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More-Than-10 Writing Commandments

[ a.k.a. Do it & Cry!!]


 The following list of writing crimes details the errors which are indicative of completely unacceptable carelessness and which will result in a deduction of  at least five points every time any one of them occurs in a paper! Most of  these errors have been drilled into over and over you since you were in second grade.


Keep this list in your notebook and make sure that any time you proofread a paper you double-check to make sure you have not committed any of these misdemeanors!  (You may even want to make yourself an extra copy and keep one at home near your desk there so that when writing at home you can check it.)


Thou Shalt Not:       


1.         Use “you” or any other second person pronoun except in direct quotation.

2.         Use phrases such as, “I feel,” “I think,” “I believe,” etc. and mention or make implication concerning your paper, e. g. “I will prove the preceding statement in my paper,” or “I have told you about . . . .”

3.         Use the phrase, “In conclusion.”

4.         Spell “a lot” as one word.

5.         Confuse “their,” “they’re,” and “there.”

6.         Confuse “two,” “to,” and “too.”

7.         Confuse “its” and “it’s”

8.         Confuse “affect” and “effect.”

9.         Confuse “of” and “ ’ve,” as in “would’ve.”

10.         Fail to use spell check when typing: See Spelling Chequer and 4-9 [on, own; know, now; were, where; wear, were, where; like, life; much, mush; due, do; results, resorts; plea, plead; mad, made; definitely, defiantly: i.e. you must use your brain as well as a spell check]

11.      Underline titles of poems, articles, or short stories.

12.      Put quotation marks around titles of books, movies, or plays.

13.      Use the phrase “the reason is because,” or the phrase “the reason why,” or the phrase “the reason why is because.”

14.      Cite a dictionary definition.  (Specialized dictionaries may be acceptable with prior approval.)

15.      Write a comparison without giving the second half.  Examples:

Correct                                                                            Incorrect

She was so happy that she ate an alligator!                          She was so happy!

I’ve never been as happy as the girl who ate the alligator.   I’ve never been as happy.

It was the biggest alligator I ever saw.                           It was the biggest alligator.

Just because she was hungrier than I, she ate the alligator.   Just because she was

                                                                                             hungrier, she ate the



14.      Have a plural pronoun refer to a singular antecedent or vice versa.  Example:  “Everyone uses their 747 to fly to Russia . . .”  is INCORRECT! [See pronoun antecedent agreement in the grammar text.]

15.      Have a pronoun with no antecedent.  (Watch out for “it!”  It’s nefarious! Watch out for “that.”) A pronoun also should refer clearly to one word, not an entire idea.

16.      Use purposefully wordy phrases: e. g. due to the …, due to the fact that, in the present time, at that point in time, communication assistance [for cell phone], can serve to be, scared out of my mind and almost paralyzed with fear.

17.      Use prepositions incorrectly: prepositions mean something! See examples: . . . imposing her wishes to [on] Isabel, . . . a young black girl of which [whom] they rape and beat, . . . Celie  is the main character of TCP in which is written in [?],. . . I have not read the other two books in which [which] I had to read . . ., . . . is particularly outspoken of [about] the thoughts of women. . . , . . . later lead to their arrest of [for] stealing money, . . . is a novel that possesses a quality in which [no in needed] others do not, . . . is Lennie’s caretaker in [of] a sort.

Some of your problems deal with the rule that one should never end a sentence with a preposition. That is certainly a rule. You have certainly been taught that rule. I do subscribe to the rule, sort of. [See Common Errors in English; choose “Ending a sentence with a preposition; go to the Jack Lynch link.]

18.      Write double-spaced or type single-spaced.

19.      Write in anything other than blue [normal blue, not turquoise or metallic blue]  or black ink. (Juniors  may always type! Sophomores may type after the writing test.)

20.      Leave off any element of the correct heading or fail to number the pages of the document.

21.      Write in “bad printing.” [To be safe, use cursive; see me privately with a typical sample for individual exceptions.]

22.      Write on anything other than regular straight-edged composition paper. (Juniors may always type; sophomores may type after the writing test;  if you use computer paper with tear-off edges, tear off the edges!)

23.      Fail to staple multiple pages together.

24.      Fail to separate your pages, stapling them accordion style.

25.      Use as the title of your paper the title of the book, story, play, or poem you are analyzing. That one is already taken; you must choose another.

Writing Helps