Three mistakes in writing that make you look dumb

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Three writing mistakes that make you look dumb

If you have ever listened to a TED conference, you must have noticed that every success story is, essentially, a story of countless failures and mistakes. The universe provides these mistakes free of charge so that you can learn faster and more easily. It is okay not to know something, but to avoid googling things you are oblivious to might create the impression that you are an ignorant, apathetic person with no interests in life. This rule also works for spelling and grammatical mistakes, which can cast you and your writing in a profoundly negative light. Alas, there are always ambiguities that remain difficult to spot, even by the increasingly intelligent A.I.s of google and your preferred spellchecker.

1. Incorrect spelling that changes the meaning

  • Then,” which places an event in time vs “than,” which shows the consequences of actions and helps to compare things.
  • There,” referencing a location vs “their,” which indicates plural possession vs “they’re,” the informal equivalent to “they are.”
  • It’s,” as a contraction of “it is” vs “its,” which indicates belonging.
  • Your” as the second person possessive modifier vs “you’re,” or “you are.”
  • Whose” shows belonging while “who’s” equals “who is” or “who has.”
  • No” as a refusal vs “now” as a time indicator vs “know,” which is a synonym to “understand.”
  • To” as a preposition and a part of infinitive verbs vs “too,” which suggests the excessiveness of the adjective that follows it.
  • Lie” is the notion of telling things that are untrue vs “lay” which is a transitive verb for putting something down.
  • Accept” is agreeing with something vs “except” which can be a verb or preposition signifying exclusion.
  • Live” as a verb for existence and “leave” in the sense of departing or abandoning something.
  • Comprise” with the synonyms “to make up” or “to consist of” something and “compose” in the meaning of “belong to” and “be a part of” something.

These and many other examples of homonyms and minimal pairs can trigger the face-palm instinct in a reader. Another problem that is also quite common is the use of improper words, called “malapropisms” in linguistic circles. For example, “oral” instead of “verbal,” or “literary” instead of “literal.” These mistakes are usually made not due to poor writing skills but because of haste and sloppy manners.

2. Writing style misuse

Bureaucratic balderdash and clichés make every reader cry their eyes out. On occasion, some situations with “officialese” can even become comic.

For example, remember the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter?

“Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical mischief-makers are proud to present the Marauder’s Map”

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

The combination of the form and official phrases with the meaning creates an ironic effect. Alas, some students write their essays the same way with no intention of making a teacher laugh: they simply believe that a bureaucratic style can make their papers sound more academic.

Another part of your writing that can be painful for the experienced reader is the use of idioms which have become stale clichés. The overly-common “brave as a lion,” “calm before the storm,” “head over heels” and the like will quickly and unfailingly put your reader to sleep.

3. Excessive and pointless words

Something else that makes your writing look dumb is the abundance of words that are simply not needed. Be concise, cutting your writing down until only the essential meaning remains. There’s no need to say “most unique,” since something “unique” is categorically defined as being the only one of its kind.

Avoid “huge,” “brilliant,” “great,” and other words with no particular definition.

The toll wasn’t “enormous” but “amounted to 1.3 million people.”

The girl wasn’t “pretty” but “participated in national beauty competitions.”

The results of the research were not “fantastic” but “exceeded expectations by 137%.”

If you recognize these mistakes, work on eliminating them, and do your best to avoid them every time you write. However, when the stakes are too high and your piece of text must be flawless, it might be more rational to ask for help from professionals. RapidEssay can become your secret helper in this case. This is a writing company that has more than 500 writers on staff. There you can hire a professional writer for whom English is a native language to get your unique paper, essay, presentation, or whatnot, composed in excellent language without a hint of any kind of grammatical or stylistic mistakes.


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