• Wrong word
• Missing comma after an introductory element
• Incomplete or missing documentation
• Vague pronoun reference
• Spelling (includes homonyms)
• Mechanical error with a quotation
• Unnecessary comma
• Unnecessary or missing capitalization
• Missing word
• Faulty sentence structure
• Missing comma with a nonrestrictive element
• Unnecessary shift in verb tense
• Missing comma in a compound sentence
• Unnecessary or missing apostrophe (including its/it’s)
• Fused (run-on) sentence
• Comma splice
• Lack of pronoun-antecedent agreement
• Poorly integrated quotation
• Unnecessary or missing hyphen
• Sentence fragment
Lunsford, A. (2011). The St. Martin’s Handbook. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
For more details on commas, semicolons, and apostrophes, see our Punctuation page here.
a. Introductory phrases, transitions, and dependent clauses
i. In the meantime Idgy sliced tomatoes.
ii. However she sliced her finger as well.
iii. Because she sliced her finger Idgy retrieved a bandage.
b. Items in a series of three or more (the Oxford comma)
i. I need to buy apples, oranges and bananas.
c. Interrupting and additional information
i. Thomas Edison a famous inventor was born in 1847.
ii. He invented the light bulb for which he is quite well-known.
d. Two independent clauses joined by conjunctions (FANBOYS)
i. I love green figs so I purchase them whenever they’re in season.
A semicolon joins two complete sentences (independent clauses) in order to show a direct relationship.
Example: I love MCthe best professors on Earth work here.
- Place on both sides of direct quotes
- First rule: Do not use semicolons, as Kurt Vonnegut said.
- Commas and direct quotes
- According to my mother “The barn is like a second home!”
- Punctuation marks go inside of quotation marks
- “Life is beautiful OR “Life is beautiful OR “Life is beautiful
- Place a period after the in-text citation when integrating a direct quote
- “I like the music because it’s the sound of things flying apart” (Rollins, p. 168)
- Possession: singular and plural
- Nick’s, Brooks’s = singular
- parents’ = plural
- don’t, can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, I’m
- Compound adjectives
- mother-in-law, twelve-year-old, fixer-upper
1. Homophones: words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
a. it’s and its, there and their, affect and effect, then and than
2. Pronoun-antecedent mismatch: when an antecedent is singular and the pronoun is plural or vice versa.
a. “Where Does a Look for Books?”
3. Vague pronoun references: when a pronoun does not clearly replace its antecedent (subject noun).
a. Josh and Drew are best friends, so is at house all the time.
4. Shifts in verb tense: changing from past to present tense, for example.
a. “Priya the great blue heron. Then she and into the swamp” (Lunsford).
5. Missing and unnecessary capitalization
a. My favorite television show is he alking ead on .
b. My ad bought a cool ike at a onvention in Baltimore.
6. Sentence boundaries
a. Run-on or fused sentence: when two complete sentences (independent clauses) are fused together without punctuation.
i. This burger is delicious I could eat two of them!
b. Fragments can occur when a subject or a verb is missing from an independent clause. There are also:
i. Dependent word fragments
1. I really like this burger.
ii. -ing and to fragments
iii. Added-detail fragments
1. This burger is delicious.