Writer S Dirty Dozen

Writer S Dirty Dozen


Bronx Science students have identified twelve common writing problems. Students may use this list whenrevising their work. Students should use the abbreviations when editing their peers’ work.

1) Subject and Verb Agreement S-V

Singular Subject and Singular Verb:“A horse eats grass.”

Plural Subject and Plural Verb: “Horses eat grass.”

Note: s/no-s pattern: If subject has an ‘s’(i.e., is plural), the verb does not.

.2) Verb Tense and Verb Tense Consistency V-T

Use consistent past tense for Social Studies essays; use consistent present tense for English essays.

3) Contractions X

Do not use contractions in formal essays.

Use “They are planning a school reunion.” NOT “They’re planning a school reunion.”

4) Spoken, Slang, or StreetSP/SL-ST

SP:Use formal expression NOT phonetic approximations of spoken words in formal essays.

Use “He could have been a good king…” NOT “He could of/ couldavbeen a good king…”

SL/ST. Avoid slang/ street/ texting abbreviations in formal essays

Use “Like you, Hamlet is a flawed character…” NOT “Like u, Hamlet is a messed up dude…”

5) Wrong WordWW

WW. Learn the difference: effect-affect/ too-to- two/ their-there/ accept-except/ its-it’s/lie-lay

6) Pronoun Antecedent AgreementP-A

Pronouns and their antecedents (the word the pronoun substitutes for) agree in number, gender and person. Use a singular pronoun for a singular preceding (antecedent) noun; use a plural pronoun

for a plural antecedent etc.

Use “The CIA recruitsits (NOT their) spies from among the country’s elite colleges.”

7) Relative Pronoun AgreementP-R

Use “The politicians who (NOT that) spent the most money were elected.”

Use “The vending machines that (NOT who) were installed were popular with students. “

8) Avoid First Person (in formal essays)I

Use “The recent Gallup poll indicates young people read news on the internet.” NOT “I read a pollthat indicates young people read news on the internet.”

9) Number#

Spell out any number ten and under (“two pens”);any number divisible by ten (“sixty students”)

Spell out approximations (“about three to four thousand students”)

Spell out simple fractions (“two-thirds of the staff; one quarter of the students”)

Spell out numbers that comprise two words or fewer(“one million” NOT 1,000,000)

Use numerical figures for dates, ages, prices, percentages and measures.

10) Sentence Fragment or Run-on Sentence SF/R-O

SF: Use “When young, the politician did lose elections.” NOT “When the politician was young.”

R-O: Use “Coal is a dirty fuel. This is a fact.” NOT “Coalis a dirty fuel this is a fact.”

11) Proper CapitalizationCap. Use a capital for the pronoun ‘I’; for a proper noun (specific person, place or thing). Use

one at the start of a sentence;at the beginning of quotations. Do NOT use capitals randomly.

12) Parallelism Parall.

Sentence elements that are connected, related or sequentialshould be in “balance” and follow consistent and concise expression.

Use “John argued angrily and boisterously with his teacher.” NOT “John argued angrily with his teacher and was boisterous.”

Use “She wanted to make money, to buy stock, and to retire early.” NOT “She wanted to make money, to buy stock, and she wanted to retire early.”

(Revised 9/2010)