Misuse of the passive voice when the active voice is needed or the other way around. In examples 1 and 2, the active voice is misused when the passive voice is needed. As a result, the subjects (i.e. “Sydney”, “reclamations”)
Agreement errors include problems with subject-verb agreement, modals followed by a main verb and determiners. The subject and the verb in the same sentence should agree in person and number. Modals should be followed by a bare infinitive. In a noun
Wrong article / missing article / no article needed. The use of articles is determined by what we refer to in each context. The following table shows the possible choices of articles in different contexts: Indefinite article Definite article No article (ø)
See also Word Choice. The auxiliary form of the simple present tense is “do/does”. The auxiliary form of the passive voice (the present tense) is “is/are”. The auxiliary form of the present perfect tense is “have/has”. The auxiliary form of the past tense is
Misuse the upper-case instead of the lower-case or vice versa. Wrong capitalization WRONG RIGHT 1. How can we turn Hong Kong into a Creative City? How can we turn Hong Kong into a creative city? Capitalization needed WRONG RIGHT
An uncountable noun cannot be made plural. See also Singular/ Plural Noun. In examples 1-5, uncountable nouns appear in plural form. WRONG RIGHT 1. In order to deal with these three existing problems (water pollution, heritage conservations, and inadequate land use of Hong
Chinese learners tend to use the pronoun “it” without clearly referring to an immediately preceding noun. In English we normally use “this” or a noun phrase instead. In examples 1-3, “it” can only refer to an immediately preceding noun (“Victoria
Modals should be followed by a bare infinitive. Wrong: *She can comes. Right: She can come. In examples 1 and 2, the third person singular verb forms “makes”, “excavates” and “disposes” cannot be used because bare infinitives (i.e. “make”, “excavate”
When two or more phrases are put together using a conjunction (e.g., “and”, “or”), they should belong to the same category (i.e. noun phrase, verb phrase, adjectival phrase, etc.) (see also Word Class). In example 1, the adjective “unique” and the noun
Similar to wrong word choice, wrong phrasing refers to a mismatch of words at phrasal levels. “In the vicinity of place X” means “near place X”. In example 1, “in the vicinity” is wrong because the writer does not mention
Wrong preposition, missing preposition or no preposition needed. See also Word Choice. Wrong preposition In example 1, “famous” and “of” do not collocate. After “famous”, use “for”. In example 2, “agree to” something means “agree to do something”. “Agree
Missing a pronoun or relative pronoun; unclear pronoun reference or wrong use of pronoun. Missing relative pronoun The relative pronouns (e.g. “who”, “which”, “that”, “whom”) cannot be omitted when they are the subject of the relative clause. It is okay
Comma needed (see also Sentence Fragment), full stop needed (see also Run-on Sentence) or other punctuation problems. Comma needed In example 1, a comma is needed because there is no main verb in the sentence “Endowed with superb, deep and
Independent sentences should be separated by a full stop and/or connected by conjunctions. Otherwise, they become run-on sentences. In examples 1-4, two independent sentences are separated by a comma instead of a full stop. This is also known as a
Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences. They may be caused by different problems. See also Punctuation. In example 1, there is a clause (i.e. a dependent sentence) starting with a relative pronoun after a full stop, but there is no main clause.
Use a singular noun instead of a plural noun or vice versa. See also Article. In example 1, “citizen” refers to only one citizen as “citizen” is a countable noun. Given that Hong Kong has more than one citizen, the
If a word is underlined in red in your Word document, there is a high chance of you having made some spelling mistakes. WRONG RIGHT 1. The Hong Kong government should learn from the design concept of Singapore harbourfront, the
Style has to do with using the language more appropriate to a particular context. You need to be aware that a love letter does not look like a job application letter. When you are writing your assignments, you should ask
Choosing the right verb tense depends on the perspective the writer adopts in connection with time. Usually, current events are narrated in the present tense (e.g. “I am at the office right now.”). Past events are narrated in the past tense
Chinese learners tend to overuse topic-comment sentence structures in English. These are typically introduced by “FOR”. Wrong: *For the students, they think it is better to have more internship opportunities during their study. Right: Students think it is better to
Transitive verbs should be used with an object. Intransitive verbs cannot be used with an object. Wrong: *I bought there. Right: I bought my phone there. Object(s) missing after transitive verb In examples 1-3, direct objects are missing after transitive
Wrong use of a verb form. Wrong: *This problem is cause by insufficient support from the government. Right: This problem is caused by insufficient support from the government. In example 1 the passive voice requires a participle (“caused”) not a
Missing or unnecessary “be”. Missing “be” WRONG RIGHT 1. But when land reclamation _ no longer an option, the main development is shifting to other islands that _ still available for development. But when land reclamation is no longer an option, the
Wrong parts of speech (e.g., a noun has been mistaken for an adjective, etc.) Mistake an adjective for a noun In examples 1 and 2, the adjective “geographic” and the adjective phrase “above mentioned” are wrongly used as a noun/
Inappropriate word choice has to do with choosing a word with the wrong meaning or choosing a word that is not commonly used with the other word(s). Collocation problem Example 1 demonstrates a collocation problem. It is uncommon to say: “something,
Wrong word order. In example 1, “nowadays” is an adverbial that depends on the verb “neglected”, not on “government’s urban planning”. In example 2, “how bad is the weather” is the structured in the form of a question, not a
Information that is unnecessary or irrelevant to the point the writer is making should be deleted. Click here to learn how to present your argument effectively.
In academic writing, ideas need to be supported with additional information (e.g., examples, statistical evidence). Click here to learn how to select relevant information to support your arguments.
Misuse of verbs, rather than coordination or subordination, to link separate sentences. Click here to learn how to construct different types of English sentences.
Poor transition refers to the shift of topic(s) in the middle of a paragraph. WRONG RIGHT 1. Dear Mr. Smith, I am interested in your business communication program. Actually, I had a phone conversation with you. After our conversation, there is
Do not overuse connectors in your writing. Try to use logic to establish links between ideas rather than relying heavily on connectors. In the example 1, the text highlighted in yellow is not connected with the previous ideas. The writer
Unclear ideas should be explained better. Click here for a list of useful resources to help you write better.
The inappropriate use of connectors could be a word choice error associated with meaning. Alternatively, it could be a structural error: some connectors are associated with sentences/clauses, other connectors require noun phrases. Such as Similar to “like”, “such as” is associated
When you borrow an idea from others, you need to quote your sources. WRONG RIGHT 1. The Australian government has executed a plan to restrict building development around the Sydney harbour called “Sydney Harbour Catchment Regional Environmental Plan”. The plan stated that buildings should
When you cite a source, you need to follow a certain style and format. e.g. According to Jones (2011), Hong Kong students are not frequently exposed to academic writing during their study at local universities. WRONG RIGHT According to Hong
When you cite sources, you need to include them in your reference list. A reference list needs to follow a consistent style and format. There are many referencing styles, such as APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA and Vancouver. You should consult with