You have completed your article and are ready to submit and move on to your next assignment. The next step is to ask yourself what you forgot to do before you hit the “send” button?

There are many errors that writers commonly make when submitting assignments. Sometimes these errors are a function of not taking the time to properly plan what it is you are looking to communicate. Other times these errors result from not applying the correct writing convention or rule. Other than spelling errors, which should be easy to identify and correct if you use any word processing software, located below are the top 5 common errors committed by writers and ways in which they can be avoided.

“It’s” versus “Its”
“It is” (It’s) is used to describe the properties of an object/subject; its describes a possessive quality or state of the object/subject. For example, “Its a beautiful day” is an improper way to describe the type of day; “It’s a beautiful day” is the correct grammatical form. Conversely, saying “the blue car has it’s lights on” is incorrect; “the blue car has its lights on” is the description of the state of the vehicle that would be correct.

If you were involved in a relationship with a person that is complicated would you say “It’s complicated” or “Its complicated?” (Hint: It is not complicated, buy flowers and take out the trash).

Improper Verb Tense 
Verbs are used to communicate an action. This action can be in the past, present or future. The trick to verb tense is to make sure that it aligns with the action that is being communicated to the reader. Thinking about staring something is best described “begin” (the action will begin). Commencing something is described by the verb “began” (the action began). Doing something is best described as “begun” (the action has begun).

Subject-Verb Agreement 
Making sure that the subject and verb agree is an important element of writing clear and concise sentences, “My life have been a series of ups and downs.” Sound the sentence out and you can see that the subject “life” and verb “have” do not match. If I restate the sentence to read “My life has been a series of ups and downs,” the subject and verb align perfectly.

Fragmented Sentences 
Sentence fragments are sentences that have not been completed. This happens when the sentence is lacking a noun (object/subject), verb, or both. The sentence “Working hard on Fridays” would be an example of a sentence fragment. The reader does not know who is working hard on and this lack of a subject can create confusion. Simply placing a first person pronoun “I” and a to be verb “am” and now the sentence becomes “I am working hard on Fridays.” The sentence is no longer a fragment.

Wrong Words Usage 
One of the  most common errors found when writing is applying the improper use of a word. Remembering basic grammar rules is the trick here; for example, a person of integrity has “principles,” but the head of your school was the “principal” because she was your pal. These are easy words to interchange. In another situation you may be wondering how to utilize two similar adjectives with two distinct meanings; for example, do you use stench or fragrance? In these instances, you have to think in terms of the type of smell you are describing. Something that is fragrant smells good, while something with a stench smells foul. Saying a rose has a beautiful stench is probably not what you are looking to say; try a rose has a beautiful fragrance instead.

When in doubt, be sure to double check with a dictionary or thesaurus.

These are just a few of the items to review before submitting an assignment. Always be sure to carefully look over each assignment for errors, especially if they are commonly overlooked mistakes that can often be a quick fix.