common student mistakes I've seen...

  1. First, some general stuff:
    • Double space ALL your papers
    • Font should be size 12.
    • Do NOT italicize—it makes it very difficult to read.
    • No paper should EVER be written in all CAPS.
  2. Edit your papers—go over them at least twice.
  3. Plagiarism—if it’s not your idea, you have to cite the reference.
  4. Do NOT EVER use ‘you’—you don’t know anything about me, you don’t know what I know, you don’t know what I don’t know.  Use ‘one’, ‘a person’, etc.
  5. Know when to use
    • ‘that’ vs. ‘which’
      1. Use “that” when you are referring to something in general
      2. If you’ve defined it somewhere else, if there is a comma, use “which”
    •   ‘Who’ vs. ‘whom’
      1. Use “who” when it is a subject
      2. Use “whom” for an object— e.g. ‘to whom,’ ‘from whom’
  6. Words such as “that,” “these,” “this” are antecedents—they should be qualified by nouns: this act, that cat, etc.
  7. When making a comparison, use “such as,” “similar to,” etc.  Do not use the word “like”
  8. Dogs get mad, people get angry.
  9. Do not end your sentences with prepositions.
  10. When using pronouns, make sure it is clear to what or to whom you are referring.  When you discuss men and women in the same sentence and in the next sentence you use the pronoun “they,” are you referring to women or men?
  11. Run-on sentences are unacceptable— make sure you have a subject and a verb/predicate.
  12. Paragraphs usually mean more than 1-2 sentences.  Moreover, paragraphs (like sentences) should have a beginning, middle and an end.
  13. Invest in a dictionary— at the very least, use a spell-checker.  If you set your word processor program to correct as you go, you’ll see misspellings and sentences that are fragments as your write.
  14. Invest in a thesaurus.
  15. Make subjects and verbs agree.
  16. Commas— use these carefully and properly!!! 
  17. Rich vs. wealthy— people are wealthy, chocolate cake is rich.
  18. ‘It’s’ vs. ‘its’— which is a contraction and which is the possessive?
  19. ‘Then’ vs. ‘than’
  20. ‘Too’ vs. ‘to’
  21. ‘Their’ vs. ‘there’
  22. Don’t say “back in the days,” “way back then,” just in the 1950s, etc.
  23. “can” vs. “is able to”
  24. correlation vs. causation