ENG 4U ISU ESSAY: COMMON ERRORS 1. Shifting the subject mid-sentence. Error: As a young rebellious character, the reader would not expect James Dean to follow the rules. Correction: Because James Dean is a rebellious character, the reader does not expect Dean to follow the rules. 2. Improper use of impact as a verb. The proper definition for impact as a verb is as follows: to strike or push at or against; to fix firmly by packing or wedging; to press together or mix into a clotted mass (e.g. goblets of clay and drops of sweat impacted into a hot mulch). Generally, when you use the word, you should be using it as a noun. Error: Her parents' behaviour impacted on her greatly. Correction: Her parents' behaviour had a great impact on her. 3. Improper use of prejudice as an adjective. Prejudice is a noun. Prejudiced and prejudicial are both adjectives which describe someone's behaviour when he/she judges without first examining the facts. Error: He is prejudice towards the immigrants in the town. Correction: He is prejudiced towards the immigrants in the town. Or: His treatment of the immigrants of the town is prejudicial. 4. Use of contractions in formal writing (e.g. wouldn't, can't, didn't, he's) Error: He can't see a way to improve his life; he's stuck in a dream world. Correction: He cannot see a way to improve his life; he is stuck in a dream world. 5. Misuse of square brackets in quotations. They should be used to indicate that you have substituted a word or phrase to make the quotation more coherent. You do not include the word or phrases that you are substituting. Error: "He [Santa Claus] was happy to be back home." Correction: "[Santa Claus] was happy to be back home." You do not need them when you are indicating that you have left something out. Error: "They went to the river [...] and found his body near the edge of the water." Correction: "They went to the river ... and found his body near the edge of the water."