Common mistakes found in ESL writing
One of the most common mistakes found in the writings of ESL students is the unnecessary repetition of conjunction. This is probably because some languages require two conjunctions to join two clauses. However, in English we use just one conjunction to join two clauses.
There are two types of conjunctions in English. Coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, yet) can join clauses. They can also join parallel words and phrases.
- She is warm, sensible and caring. (Here the coordinating conjunction and joins the three adjectives – warm, sensible and caring.)
- The new express highway will reduce the distance between the island city and its suburbs and enhance its reputation as the financial capital of the country.
Here the coordinating conjunction ‘and’ connects the two independent clauses:
- The new express highway will reduce the distance between the island city and its suburbs.
- It will enhance the city’s reputation as the financial capital of the country.
‘And’ also connects the two phrases ‘the island city’ and ‘its suburbs’.
Subordinating conjunctions (because, what, which, though etc) join clauses but not words. In other words they do not create parallel structure. Instead they form clauses that are dependent on the main clause.
Missing conjunctions or run-on sentences
This is another common mistake. A run-on-sentence occurs when a sentence does not have enough conjunctions or full stops. In other words, a run-on-sentence is actually two or more sentences that are not separated by a full stop or not connected by a conjunction.
- Incorrect: I support the new shopping mall it will improve the economy.
This sentence contains two clauses, but they are not connected by a conjunction. You can correct this mistake by either supplying the missing conjunction or separating them by means of a full stop.
- I support the new shopping mall because it will improve the economy. OR I support the new shopping mall. It will improve the economy.