Grammar Mistakes - Yikes - Part 2



In Grammar Mistakes – Yikes – Part 1, I discussed some of the most common spelling mix-ups and word confusion errors like its and it’s, you’re and your, and the infamous who and whom. Hopefully the article cleared up some of the confusion and those reading it spotted their mistakes instead of there, or they’re mistakes, LOL.

Today I discuss dangling participles, non sequiturs, and unnecessary prepositions. Oh, my! What the heck are those, you might ask, and why do you need to know about them?

Well, I’ll tell you why. While writing with proper grammar should be at the forefront of every writer's work, it’s especially important for debut authors because their writing is scrutinized in greater detail then established authors. Best-selling, award-winning authors can get away with a lot more than debut authors because the former sell a ton of books and make money for the publisher.


I'll also expand on the topic of mix-ups with more words and phrases that get confused because I see these mistakes every day as opposed to everyday, and I think it’s important for writers to get things straight as opposed to strait.





A dangling participle is a modifier in search of a word to modify. Put simply, it’s a modifier that’s left hanging there. Modifiers are words, phrases, and clauses that affect and often enhance the meaning of a sentence. This is why proper placement of words is so important and why commas are necessary. In the meme above, the dangling participle or modifier is, to her friends stored in plastic bags. The phrase is left swinging in the wind and leads the reader to believe that Mia’s friends are stored in plastic bags instead of the cookies being stored in plastic bags. Yikes!

Now look at the easy fix in the meme. Stored in plastic bags modifies the word cookies, then a comma and to her friends is added with an additional comma, and everything is kumbaya. Hooray, the sentence makes sense. Some readers may not pick up on exactly what’s wrong with a sentence, but they’ll know something is off and that will be distracting.



A non sequitur is an unrelated phrase that follows a statement. In Latin, it means it does not follow. So, it’s not connected to what came before and it doesn’t follow logically. In the above meme, the non sequiturs are obvious.

Another type of non sequitur is the non sequitur fallacy, or an invalid argument where the conclusion is not supported by the premise. These non sequiturs defy basic rules or reason and are based on flawed arguments. In literature, these can be used in character dialogue for comic relief, to reflect the persona of the character, but using them in prose may create confusion. An example of a non sequitur fallacy is: If I’m a rock star, I sing and play guitar. If I’m not a rock star, I don’t sing, and I don’t play guitar. Totally untrue and illogical.



An unnecessary preposition is one that serves no purpose; therefore, it’s not needed. Aspiring authors please check your work with a fine-tooth comb for these pointless words and eliminate them. It’s a great way to trim the word count in your manuscript which you will need to do anyway.





People mix up words when they speak. Perhaps because they learned to say them wrong when they were growing up. Some aspiring authors therefore mix up these words when they write, because they spell them as they say them instead of spelling them correctly. Please take note and use the correct spelling when you write. The same goes for phrases.




For the same reason that people misspeak words because they become accustomed to saying them the wrong way, they also misspeak many common phrases. The phrases that are spoken improperly are often written erroneously too. These mistakes are sure to make agents and publishers cringe and pass on your manuscript. I've presented some of the most common mistakes but there are many more of these mix-ups, so, always check the internet for proper usage and spelling.



Hi. I'm Liz Ambrico, freelance proofreader and aspiring author. I too am querying agents, editors, and publishers in hopes of becoming a published author.

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I co-founded and managed a successful author and writer group on Long Island for five years. During events with publishers and authors I learned what matters, what agents are looking for, and the benefits and pitfalls of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

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