TOP TEN MISTAKES STUDENTS MAKE WHEN WRITING ESSAYS

1. Inconsistent tense
Incorrect
Correct
John decides to go to bed, but then he drank too much coffee and could not fall asleep. He watches television for half an hour, then he finally felt sleepy. John decided to go to bed, but then he drank too much coffee and could not fall asleep. He watched television for half an hour, then he finally felt sleepy.
2. Plot summaries instead of analysis
Incorrect
Correct
Michiko placed the money she earned prostituting herself into the empty box which was meant for her husband's ashes. She held the box tightly as a tear ran down her cheek. Michiko's act of placing the money she earned prostituting herself in her late husband's ash-box demonstrates how her recent corruption had replaced a previous life of happiness.
3. Quoting instead of paraphrasing 4. Incomplete sentences
  • The modernization could not have happened if first of all the social changes and then the political consolidation from an imperial state to a democracy. [where's the verb in the conditional clause?]
  • While the soldiers who actually assaulted the woman, never acknowledges [sic] their guilt. [The "while" means "although," but there is no clause to finish the thought]
  • And the "shame society" always putting the blame on someone else or making excuses for themselves.
  • 5. Single spacing and indenting

    6. Contractions

    7. Second Person

    Incorrect
    Correct
    If you don't understand the meaning of the book, you shouldn't feel stupid. You won't always see everything the author wants you to see. If one does not understand the meaning of the book, one should not feel stupid. One will not always see everything the author wants one to see.
    8. Dangling Participles
    Incorrect
    Correct
    Working at my desk, the sudden noise startled me. [working lacks connection with noise] Working at my desk, I was startled by the sudden noise.
    Turning the corner, the view was much changed. [turning lacks connection with view] Turning the corner, he discovered that the view was much changed.
    9. Spelling 10. Title AND FINALLY, REMEMBER: DO NOT USE BIG WORDS, DO NOT USE SMALL WORDS, USE THE RIGHT WORDS.