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Updated 29 May 2007

If you need additional information to understand the precise nature of your error, use A WRITER'S REFERENCE.  The numbers in parentheses refer to chapters in the text.

abst                  = abstract

awk                  =  awkward phrasing

cap                   =  capitals (M3, a-g)

ca                     =  case (G3, c-d)

chop                 =  choppy rhythm:  avoid a long series of short simple sentences.

cl                      = cliche (W4, c-d):  avoid overused, worn-out phrases such as "slept like a log"

coh                   =  coherence (C4, d):  make each paragraph coherent by arranging your thoughts in a clearly understandable order (general to particular, particular to general, least important to most important, most important to least important).

col                  =  colloquial language (W4, c-d):  avoid informal language (example: "By the end of the first act, Polonius proves to be a real loser. "The phrase "real loser" is inappropriately informal.)

c s                    =  comma splice (G6):  do not link (splice) two independent clauses with a comma only. Incorrect: "The main character is very faithful to all his friends, thus the reader admires him." Correct: "The main character is loyal to all his friends, and thus the reader admires him."

d m                 = dangling modifier (S3, e): a verbal (participal, gerund, infinitive) must clearly and logically refer to a word or phrase in the sentence.  Incorrect:  "Arriving in Chicago, the train station seemed like a temple." The participal "Arriving" does not logically refer to any word in the sentence. Correct: "Arriving in Chicago, he thought the train station looked like a temple."  "Arriving" logically modifies "he," the subject.

emph                = emphasis:  arrange sentence parts so that key words, phrases or ideas gain emphasis; for example, place a key word or phrase at the end of the sentence, or place the main idea in the main clause.

frag                  =  sentence fragment or incomplete thought (G5)

gen                   = too general                                 

lc                      =  lower case

log                    =  logic

m m                  =  misplaced modifier (S3, a-c):  for clarity, place a modifier next to or close to) the word modified.

n s                    =  shift in viewpoint (S4, a):  Incorrect: "If a person is to learn proper English, you should study every chapter in Harbrace College Handbook." The writer shifts from the 3rd person to the 2nd person viewpoint).

org                   =  organization:  arrange sentences in a logical sequence of thought

p agr                =  pronoun agreement (G3,a): make each pronoun agree in number and gender with its antecedent. Incorrect: "Each woman in the story dislikes their spouse." The plural pronoun ("their") does not agree in number with its singular antecedent ("woman").

p ref                 =  pronoun reference (G3,b):  make each pronoun clearly refer to a specific noun antecedent.

p u                   = paragraph unity (C4, a):  a paragraph should develop one idea only.

p v                   = passive voice/verb (W3, a): most often, your verbs will be stronger if their subjects perform rather than receive the action. Passive verb: "In the second act, Duncan is stabbed by Macbeth."

                          Active verb: "In the second act, Macbeth stabs Duncan."

red                   =  redundancy in phrasing (W2,a):  do not needlessly repeat a word or phrase. Incorrect: "The main character makes several wrong mistakes."

rep                   =  needless repetition of thought (W2,b) 

r-o                   =  run-on sentence (G6):  do not run together two independent clauses without using a comma and a coordinating conjunction to join them.

sl                      =  slang (W4,c): avoid excessively informal language; Incorrect: "Because she is dissed by her lover, she seeks revenge." Correct: "Because she is rejected by her lover, she seeks revenge."

sp                     =  spelling

s u                    =  sentence unity;  do not place unrelated ideas in a sentence.

s-v  agr             =  subject-verb agreement (G1, a-j):  make each verb agree in number with its subject. Incorrect: "There is lots of violent scenes in Act IV."  Correct: "There are lots of violent scenes in Act IV."

t                       =  verb tense (G2, f)

trans                 =  sentence transition (C4, d):  use pronouns, conjunctions, parenthetical phrases (moreover, on the other hand, in sum, etc.) and repetition of key words or ideas to link sentences.

v                      =  vagueness

var                   =  variety in sentence structure (S7, a-c):  vary the beginnings of your sentences; do not begin all sentences with a subject-verb sequence.

w                     =  wordiness

w o                  = word order

wv                    = weak verb

ww                   =  wrong word

                     =  omission

                      =  paragraphing                                                                                               

                      =  good word, phrase or idea

?                      =  unclear phrasing

//                      = parallelism (S1, a-c):  for the sake of symmetry, give equal sentence parts (functions) the same grammatical form. Incorrect: "In the middle of the story, the protagonist starts drinking mint juleps, smoking cigars, and to play Russian roulette." Correct: "In the middle of the story, the protagonist starts drinking mint juleps, smoking cigars, and playing Russian roulette."