revision: grammar and mechanics

Because of deletions and recasting of phrases and sentences, pay particular attention to punctuation, capitalization and grammar. For instance, sentences may lack a verb, an initial capital letter, a co-ordinating conjunction, or an essential punctuation mark. Redundancy may also have been introduced.

The following types of error are commonplace.

  • Misspelling
  • Misprints
  • Punctuation errors, including the overuse of quotation marks
  • Incorrect capitalization
  • Erroneous compounding or word division
  • Failure to ensure that, when first used, an abbreviation follows the full name of the entity it represents, unless the abbreviation is well known
  • Incorrect form of an abbreviation
  • Inconsistency in presenting numbers (as numerals or words)
  • Erroneous or inconsistent use of decimal point
  • Inconsistency in presenting SI/metric symbols, including spacing between symbols and figures
  • Inaccurate transcription of numbers from one draft to the next
  • Arabic in place of Roman numerals, and vice versa
  • Non-agreement of subject and verb and use of singular noun where plural is required:

    The customer service thrust of this and other departments have been poorly communicated to the general public.

    The Tab and Caps Lock key is found on the left-hand side of the keyboard.

  • No finite verb:


    What to do about it?


    What should we do about it?

  • Comma splice:

    Cod stocks were dropping at an alarming rate, swift action had to be taken.
    (co-ordinating conjunction and required after rate)

  • Dangling participle:

    Omitting the overture, the music began.

    Arising out of a conflict of personalities, the Director General, Finance and Administration, felt compelled to resign and move on.

  • Faulty or imprecise antecedents for pronouns:

    Ross Rebagliati snowboarded down the ski slope, which is now a recognized event in winter olympics competition.

    Sam visited his brother every day while he was unemployed.

  • Faulty parallelism:

    The new sales program was stimulating and a challenge.

    ( … challenging.)

    The solution lies not in prohibition or censorship but in developing self-control.

    ( … the development of …)

    This type of product has three advantages:

    • It is strong.
    • It is inexpensive.
    • Long life. (It has a long life. or It is durable.)
  • Misuse of restrictive and non-restrictive constructions (see commas with non-restrictive elements)
  • Incomplete constructions (faulty ellipsis):

    Aircraft land and take off from Winnipeg airport at very short intervals.

    ( … land at …)

    The building is as old, if not older than, the Library of Parliament.

    ( … as old as …)

Copyright notice for Writing Tips Plus

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement
A tool created and made available online by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada

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