Common Grammar and Citation Issues

When editing your peers' papers, here are some common grammar and usage errors you should look for:

  • Pronoun-antecedent:
    • Incorrect: When one posts a selfie on Facebook, they should get the camera out of their face.
    • Correct: When people post selfies on Facebook, they should get the camera out of their face.
    • Pronouns should match up in numbers: "one" is singular, while "they" is plural.
  • Comma splice:
    • Incorrect: Andrew ate the hot wings, he got really sweaty.
    • Correct: Andrew ate the hot wings. He got really sweaty.
    • Correct: Andrew ate the hot wings, and he got really sweaty.
    • Correct: Andrew ate the hot wings, so he got really sweaty.
    • Correct: Andrew ate the hot wings; he got really sweaty.
    • Complete sentences must be separated by a period, colon, or comma and conjunction (not just a comma).
  • Fragment:
    • Incorrect: David got some sweet new kicks. Which means all the ladies will love him.
    • Correct: David got some sweet new kicks, which means all the ladies will love him.
    • Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone as a sentence; they must be connected to a main clause by a comma.
  • Citation formatting:
    • Incorrect: Smith writes, "Basgier has the best scholarship in the world." (237)
    • Incorrect: Smith writes, "Basgier has the best scholarship in the world (237)."
    • Correct (MLA): Smith writes, "Basgier has the best scholarship in the world" (237).
    • Correct (APA): Smith (2013) writes, "Basgier has the best scholarship in the world" (p. 237).
    • Quotation marks go at the end of the quote, before the citation; periods go after the citation. The exception is a block quote (4 lines or more), in which case the period goes at the end of the quote, before the citation.
    • Don't forget to introduce quotes (e.g. Smith writes) or integrate quotes with your own sentences: Some experts believe that "Basgier has the best scholarship in the world" (Smith, 2013, p. 237).

Purdue has really good resources for MLA and APA formatting.

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