The Everyday Writer

20 errors
1. Missing Comma after Introductory Element
2. Vague pronoun reference
3. Missing comma in a compound sentence
4. Wrong word
5. Missing comma(s) with a nonrestrictive element
6. Wrong or missing verb ending
7. Wrong or missing preposition
8. Comma splice
9. Missing or misplaced possessive apostrophe
10. Unnecessary shift in tense
11. Unnecessary shift in pronoun
12. Sentence fragment
13. Wrong tense or verb form
14. Lack of subject-verb agreement
15. Missing comma in a series
16. Lack of agreement between pronoun and antecedent
17. Unnecessary comma(s) with a restrictive element
18. Fused sentence
19. Misplaced or dangling modifier
20. Its/It's confusion

Book-Specific Resources / 20 Most Common Errors /
Error #5

The reader does not need the clause who was the president of the club to know the basic meaning of the sentence: who was the first to speak. As a nonrestrictive (or nonessential) element, the clause is set off by commas.

The reader does not need the clause which had not met for 175 years to understand which assembly the sentence is talking about because the Estates General has already been named. This clause is not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence and should be set off by a comma.

The reader knows which doll is Kristin's favorite—her first one; Malibu Barbie is thus not essential to the meaning of the sentence and needs to be set off by commas.

A nonrestrictive element is one that is not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. You could remove it from the sentence and the sentence would still make sense. Check your draft to be certain you've used commas to set off any part of a sentence that tells more about a word in the sentence but that your reader does not need in order to understand the word or sentence.

For practice recognizing and editing this error, go to Exercise Central.

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