Main Stylistic Mistakes

stylsitic mistake

Using Passive Voice Too Often

Passive voice is needed when you want to make an emphasis on an object that has undergone certain changes or actions, or when a subject is unknown. Passive voice also sounds more formal and “clever” than active voice. However, overusing it will not only make your writing sound clever, but will also make it unreadable.

Switching Between Tenses

Rather often, amateur writers switch between tenses within a paragraph, or even a sentence. It makes writing look inconsistent, and besides it becomes less comprehensible, as readers get confused by tense changes. More appropriate is to choose a tense that suits your story or elaboration of an idea best, and adhere to it throughout the entire text.

Agreeing Verbs With Nouns

Most often, this stylistic mistake occurs when a writer gets confused by nouns whose number are difficult to determine. Such nouns and pronouns as money, nobody, someone, somebody, anyone, everyone, each, and some others are singular.

e.g. (Incorrect) Nobody in the room were surprised by Jack’s sudden arrival.
(Correct) Nobody in the room was surprised by Jack’s sudden arrival.

e.g. (Incorrect) Are there any money left in your wallet?
(Correct) Is there any money left in your wallet?

e.g. Each of us is equally scared, but it does not mean we should panic and act randomly without a firm plan.

Confusing the Meaning of Similar Sounding Words

Sometimes such mistakes are mechanical, especially when a writer is so absorbed by his or her thoughts that he or she does not pay appropriate attention to the writing itself. Considering this, one should be extra careful when using words like than and then, affect and effect, their and there, lose and loose, and so on.

e.g. Even though Jean was innocent, she was officially a lose (should be loose) criminal, so she had to hide.

e.g. Hey, you their (should be there)! Get over here!

Run-On Sentences and Short Sentences

The length of a sentence is rather often directly connected to how easy it will be to read and to your capability to convey your thoughts to readers. Usually, the longer the sentence is, the easier it is to lose the main idea behind numerous words. At the same time, short sentences do not allow you to manifest your thoughts fully; besides, reading a text written in short sentences is difficult, because it does not flow. The optimal option would be to observe the golden ratio.

Being Too Formal or Informal

There is no need to use slang and explicit vocabulary in academic writing, or to try to sound scientific and clever in fiction writing or poetry. The style of your paper should correspond with its purpose and audience.


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