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FED 101 - Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Avoid Fatal Errors

Most Common Errors in Student Writing

misspelled words
sentence fragments
run-on sentences or comma splices
errors in capitalization
errors in punctuation that obscure meaning
errors in verb tense or subject/verb agreement
improper or inadequate citation
improper word use
Lack of conformity with assignment format or requirements



1. Avoid overusing expletives at the beginning of sentences

2. Avoid overusing noun forms of verbs

3. Avoid unnecessary infinitive phrases

4. Avoid circumlocutions in favor of direct expressions

For explanations see OWL at Purdue on Conciseness.

Avoid plague words and phrases.

William Safire's Self-Violated 'Rules for Writers'

  • Remember to never split an infinitive.
  • The passive voice should never be used.
  • Do not put statements in the negative form.
  • Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  • A writer must not shift your point of view.
  • And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  • Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  • Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  • Always pick on the correct idiom.
  • The adverb always follows the verb.
  • Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.
  • More . . .

Help with English

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Avoid Hyperbole

Hyperbole (hy-PER-boll-ee) is a figure of speech in which the expression is an evident exaggeration usually for emphasis.

Overstatement does not equal proof. Academic and formal writing relies on proof rather than hyperbole.

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