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
Ù = omission
¶ = paragraphing
Ö = 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."