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Bookhooks Style Guide

Using our Word template, you can annotate student work, adding comments for the 30 Common Errors listed in this style guide. The template facilitates mark up by teachers, and generates comments with links to these resource pages!

   Using Negative Form

30 Common Writing Errors and Their Solutions

Sentence Fragment
Run On/Comma Splice

Parenthetic Expression
Series
Comma Before Independent Clause
Semi-Colon
Colon
Punctuation at end of Quotation
Single Quote Marks
Dialogue
Titles
Possession
Its/It's
Dangling Modifier
Misplaced Modifier
Vague Pronoun Reference
Me/Like
Number Agreement
Parallel Structure
Verb Tenses
Fused Words
Spelling
Passive Voice

Negative Form
Cliches
Choppy Sentences
Wordiness
Qualifiers and Intensifiers
Hedging
Vague, Stilted or Flowery Language

This listing of 30 common writing errors was compiled by The Pingry School and is used with permission.

Statements in negative form (often signaled by the word not) weaken writing because they require the reader to picture the absence of a quality or event (a sort of black hole of the imagination) rather than a presence. Negative constructions are also usually wordy.

Not can be a powerful word when used in admonition, especially when coupled with a contrasting positive: “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

The violinist did not appear to be calm and confident.

Myrna’s parents did not agree on things very often.

If you don’t remember to make witty conversation, Gertrude may not pay any attention to you.

These Puritans possessed neither the warmth of natural human affection nor any trace of ideological flexibility.

Polonius fails to display the wisdom we might hope to expect from him, and Falstaff is notably lacking in bravery.

The violinist looked nervous.

Myrna’s parents argued constantly.

If you forget to make witty conversation, Gertrude may ignore you.

These Puritans were cold-hearted and dogmatic.

Polonius is a fool, Falstaff a coward.