Correction Symbols TwoNotes from your teacher
When your teacher returns a writing assignment to you, you will probably see some of the correction symbols listed below on it. Before you rewrite your paper, you need to know what these symbols mean.
You need to find each symbol that your teacher has written on your paper in the list below. Then you need to read the information that follows the symbol. If there is something you donít understand after you have done this, ask for help from your tutor, your English-speaking friend, or your teacher.
This page (Correction Symbols Two) contains the symbols which begin with a letter and they are listed in alphabetical order. Those which do not begin with a letter are on another page (Correction Symbols One).
If you print this page, a few of the correction symbols may not print correctly. You should compare the printed copy with what you see on your computer screen.
Example sentences which are not correct are preceded by an asterisk (*).
Abbreviation: Be careful about using abbreviations.
ab1 Donít use abbreviations unless they are very common (for example: USA, TV, DVD).
ab2 When you use a period after the letters in an abbreviation, be sure to put a period after each letter.
* I came to the U.S.A last year.
I came to the U.S.A. last year.
I came to the USA last year.
ab3 Donít use & (ampersand) unless youíre copying a name or title.
* I bought a book & a pen.
I bought a book and a pen.
My friend works for AT&T. (AT&T is the name of a company.)
ab4 Donít use etc. You should not expect your reader to fill in information that you are too lazy to provide (etc. is the abbreviation for the Latin term et cetera).
Active: This verb should be active, not passive. See Passive Sentences.
Agreement (Pronoun-Antecedent): All pronouns must agree in number (singular, plural) with their antecedents. 3rd person singular pronouns (he, she, it) must also agree in gender (male, female, neuter) with their antecedents. See Pronoun below; also see Relative Pronouns in Relative Clauses.
agrp1 Donít use a plural pronoun for a singular antecedent:
* Each student has their book.
Each student has his/her book.
Each student has her book.
All students have their books.
Each student has his book.
agrp2 Donít use a singular pronoun for a plural antecedent:
* The children want to eat because she is hungry.
The children want to eat because they are hungry.
The child wants to eat because she is hungry.
agrp3 Donít use a male pronoun for a female antecedent:
* The waitress lost his pencil.
The waitress lost her pencil.
agrp4 Donít use a female pronoun for a male antecedent:
* The waiter lost her pencil.
The waiter lost his pencil.
agrp5 Donít use a human pronoun for a nonhuman antecedent:
* The car whom I want is green.
The car which I want is green.
Exceptions: Female pronouns (she, her,Ö) are often used for boats and ships; Female pronouns (she, her,Ö), male pronouns (he, his,Ö), and neuter pronouns (it, its,Ö) can be used for animals.
agrp6 Donít use a nonhuman pronoun for a human antecedent:
* The woman which you saw was my neighbor.
The woman whom you saw was my neighbor.
Agreement (Subject-Verb): Present tense forms of all verbs and the past tense forms of be (was, were) must agree in number (singular, plural) with their subjects.
agrsv1 Donít use a singular verb with a plural subject:
* They speaks English.
They speak English.
agrsv2 Donít use a plural verb with a singular subject:
* She speak English.
She speaks English.
agrsv3 Donít forget that the 1st person singular subject (I) and the 2nd person singular subject (you) take the same present tense verb form as a plural subject (unless the verb is be):
* I speaks English.
* You speaks English.
I speak English.
You speak English.
agrsv4 Donít forget that the verb be is very different from all other English verbs: be has three present tense forms (I am, he/she/it is, we/you/they are); all other verbs have two (BASE, +S); be has two past tense forms (I/he/she/it was, we/you/they were); all others have one (PAST). See Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Auxiliaries.
Ambiguous: This (These) word(s) has (have) two (or more) different meanings and it is not clear which meaning you have in mind. You need to make your meaning clear.
Flying airplanes can be dangerous.
The sentence above has two possible meanings:
Airplanes that are flying can be dangerous.
It can be dangerous to fly airplanes.
Auxiliary: An auxiliary is missing here. See Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Auxiliaries.
Awkward: This sentence is difficult to understand. There are many possible reasons for an awkward sentence: awk1 You may have used inappropriate words. awk2 You may have incorrectly translated from your language to English. awk3 You may have tried to put too much into one sentence. Try rewriting a long awkward sentence as two or three shorter sentences. awk4 You may have used incorrect word order. awk5 You may have used ambiguous language. Words are ambiguous if they can be understood in two or more different ways. See Ambiguous above. awk6 You may have made so many mistakes in one sentence that your meaning is not clear. awk7 This material does not seem to be connected to the rest of the sentence.
Very Awkward: This sentence is impossible to understand. See Awkward above. Try explaining what you want to say to a native-speaker of English (your tutor, a friend, your teacher). Perhaps s/he can help you express your idea more clearly.
Awkward Comparison: You have compared two things that are so different that they cannot be compared.
* California drivers are better than New York.
California drivers are better than New York drivers.
Capital Letter: This (These) letter(s) must be capitalized. Capital letters look like this: A, B, C, D, E,Ö ; lower case letters look like this: a, b, c, d, e,Ö . Here are some rules about capitalization:
Every sentence begins with a capital letter. The pronoun I is always a capital letter. Proper nouns begin with capital letters. Proper nouns include the names of specific persons, places, and things; nationalities and languages; religions and their members; days and months; organizations and institutions;.... See Nouns and Articles. Titles (Mr., Ms., Dr.,...) that precede names begin with capital letters. The first and last words and all content words (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives) in titles of books, movies, student compositions, and so on must begin with capital letters.
Correct, but...: This sentence is grammatically correct, but the meaning is not appropriate. Perhaps you donít understand what you have said.
Coordinating Conjunction: Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect parallel structures (words, phrases, clauses). The coordinating conjunctions are and, but, or, nor, so, for, yet. See Parallelism below and Parallel Structures.
Coherence: The relationships between sentences (and between paragraphs) should be clear and natural. The reader should be able to follow the writerís thought without difficulty. See The Paragraph. To achieve coherence, the writer should:
coh1 Arrange information in a clear logical order. There are many different clear logical arrangements. Here are a few:
Time (chronological, reverse chronological). Time order is especially important in narration and a description of a process. Space (for example, left to right, top to bottom, near to far, east to west,...). A spatial arrangement is especially important in physical descriptions. Inductive (particular to general). Deductive (general to particular).
Importance (least to most, most to least).
coh2 Use appropriate transitional devices. For example:
Pronouns (see below) which refer to previously mentioned nouns. Repetition (see below) of previously mentioned words/ideas. Parallel structures. See Parallelism below and Parallel Structures. Transitional words and phrases. See Transitions below.
Contraction: You have used a contraction incorrectly. You should use the full form instead of a contraction.
contr1 Contractions are not generally used in formal academic writing. However, usage varies. The most common contractions are often acceptable. If you are in doubt, use the full form rather than a contraction.
contr2 Subject pronoun + auxiliary contractions are never used as the last word in a sentence or clause. Examples: Iím, Iíve, heís, sheís, youíre, youíve, theyíre, theyíve, sheíll, heíd,Ö. See Pronoun below and Auxiliary Verbs.
Are you studying English?
* Yes, Iím.
Yes, I am.
Comma Splice: You have incorrectly separated two independent clauses with a comma. This is one type of run-on sentence (see below).
* I wrote the composition, I got a bad grade.
I wrote the composition, but I got a bad grade.
I wrote the composition. I got a bad grade.
I wrote the composition; I got a bad grade.
Dangling Modifier: A modifying phrase must refer to the noun or pronoun closest to it. Usually the modifier precedes the noun or pronoun; sometimes it follows it.
* Driving to school, the freeway was crowded.
Driving to school is a dangling modifier because the freeway cannot drive. There are two ways to correct dangling modifiers:
dang1 Revise the sentence to make the modifier clearly refer to the correct word:
Driving to school this morning, I thought the freeway was unusually crowded.
dang2 Change the modifying phrase to a subordinate clause:
When I was driving to school this morning, the freeway was unusually crowded.
Determiner: A determiner is needed here. Determiners include articles (a, an, the), demonstratives (this, that, these, those), numbers (one, two, three,...), quantity terms (many, several, some,...), possessive adjectives (my, your, her,...), possessive nouns (Johnís, the teacherís,...). Singular count nouns almost always require determiners; other nouns (noncount, plural count) often require determiners. See Nouns and Articles.
Details: You need to provide your reader with more information (details). Details include colors, shapes, sizes, numbers, statistics, names, titles, facts, examples, quotations, anecdotes,Ö. Also see Development below and The Paragraph.
Development: Develop your ideas adequately. Supply enough information so that your reader will understand what you want to say. See Details above and The Paragraph.
Delete Punctuation: Incorrect punctuation should be deleted. See Punctuation.
* The book, that I want is very expensive.
The book that I want is very expensive.
Very few punctuation marks can be placed at the beginning of a line. Commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points, colons, and semicolons are never placed at the beginning of a line.
* Billy, Fred, and George hoped to finish school
, get good jobs, and travel around the world.
Billy, Fred, and George hoped to finish school,
get good jobs, and travel around the world.
Deadwood: Eliminate deadwood (incorrect or unnecessary words). dw1 This (These) word(s) is (are) not correct and must be deleted. dw2 This (These) word(s) is (are) not necessary and should be deleted.
For example?: You need to provide an example (or some examples) here (e.g. is the abbreviation for the Latin term exempli gratia).
Fragment: This group of words is not a complete sentence, but you have punctuated it as if it were a complete sentence. See The Sentence. A group of words may be a fragment for several reasons:
frag1 The verb is missing.
* Billy dead.
Billy is dead.
frag2 The verb phrase is incomplete.
* He trying to swim.
He was trying to swim.
frag3 The subject is missing.
* Didnít want to take lessons.
He didnít want to take lessons.
frag4 There is a subject but no predicate.
* His friends, who miss him very much.
His friends, who miss him very much, are sad.
frag5 It is a subordinate clause; see Adverb Clauses, Noun Clauses, and/or Adjective Clauses. A subordinate clause is part of a sentence; it cannot be a sentence by itself. You need to either add it to the preceding or following sentence or add an independent clause to it.
* Because he is gone.
His friends are sad because he is gone.
Fused Sentence: You have incorrectly punctuated two (or more) independent clauses as one sentence. This is one type of run-on sentence (see below).
* He fixed the car it runs well now.
He fixed the car, and it runs well now.
He fixed the car. It runs well now.
He fixed the car; it runs well now.
Illegible: This is very difficult (or impossible) to read because your handwriting (or typing or printing) is illegible.
Incomplete Comparison: This group of words contains only part of a comparative form. See Wrong Form 3 & 4 below.
* Los Angeles is bigger.
* This book is important than that one.
inccomp1 You must either complete the comparison:
Los Angeles is bigger than San Francisco.
This book is more important than that one.
inccomp2 Or you must not use a comparative form:
Los Angeles is big.
This book is important.
Not Logical: This sentence (These sentences) may be grammatically correct, but it doesnít (they donít) make sense.
logic?1 What you have said appears to be nonsense.
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
logic?2 You have said two (or more) things that seem to contradict each other: They cannot both (all) be true.
He bought a car last year. He has never owned a car.
Margin: You should leave margins along the top, bottom, left, and right edges of your paper. One inch along the top, bottom, and right and one-and-one-half inches on the left are standard margins, but you should ask your teacher how wide the margins should be.
Noncount Noun: This word is a noncount (or uncountable) noun. nc1 Noncount nouns are singular. nc2 The indefinite article (a, an) cannot be used with noncount nouns. nc3 Numbers (one, two, three,...), plural quantity expressions (many, few, several,...), and plural demonstratives (these, those) cannot be used with noncount nouns.
No Paragraph: You should not begin a new paragraph here. This material should be part of the preceding paragraph.
No Capital: This (These) letter(s) should not be capitalized.
No Passive: This verb should be active, not passive. See Passive Sentences.
No Subject: This verb does not have a subject.
* After checked my son, the doctor left.
no subj1 Sometimes this error can be corrected just by adding a subject.
After she checked my son, the doctor left.
no subj2 Sometimes this error can be corrected by using a different word form.
After checking my son, the doctor left.
Nonstandard: Your sentence may be correct and your meaning may be clear, but you have not used Standard American English.
ns1 You may have used a nonstandard word order. Move word(s) as indicated.
He had a white and black TV.
He was walking down and up the street.
He had a black and white TV.
He was walking up and down the street.
ns2 You may have used British English vocabulary.
We took the lift to the top floor.
We took the elevator to the top floor.
ns3 You may have used a word in a way that a native speaker of English would not use it.
She returned home to visit her parent.
She returned home to visit her mother.
She returned home to visit her father.
She returned home to visit her parents.
Not a word: This ďwordĒ is not an English word.
Passive: This verb should be passive, not active. See Passive Sentences.
Plagiarism: This material at least appears to have been plagiarized. See your teacher.
If you have used the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own, you have committed plagiarism. Plagiarism is an extremely serious offense and writers who are guilty of it are subject to severe penalties.
When you use someone elseís words or paraphrase someone elseís ideas, you must indicate that you are quoting (by using quotation marks) or paraphrasing (for example, by saying something like ďaccording to _____Ē) and you must identify the source of the quotation or paraphrased material (either in your text or in a footnote and bibliography). If you donít, you are guilty of plagiarism.
See the following Web site for more information about plagiarism:
Plural: This word should be plural.
Here is one of the most common mistakes involving a plural:
* Only one of the student did not complete the assignment.
Only one of the students did not complete the assignment.
The phrase one of the must be followed by a plural noun or pronoun.
Preposition: There is a problem which involves a preposition here.
prep1 A preposition is necessary here. Here are some prepositions:
about, above, across, after, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, despite, down, during, for, from, in, into, like, near, of, off, on, out, over, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, within, without
prep2 You have used the wrong preposition. Here are some common preposition mistakes:
* The houses are made by wood.
* George married with Shirley.
* Shirley is married with George.
* We discussed about the movie.
The houses are made of wood.
George married Shirley.
Shirley is married to George.
We discussed the movie.
We talked about the movie.
Pronoun: You should replace this (these) word(s) with a pronoun. These are the personal pronouns:
subject/ object/ possessives (adjectives/pronouns)/reflexive
he/ him/ his/ his/ himself
Also see Adjective Clauses for a list of relative pronouns.
Do you really mean this?: It is difficult to believe. Perhaps you have used the wrong words or perhaps you are exaggerating or perhaps you donít understand what you have said.
Pronoun Reference: It is not clear what this pronoun refers to. A pronoun should clearly refer to a nearby word or words. See Pronoun above.
* Patty sent a postcard to Katy when she was in Nevada.
(Who was in Nevada, Patty or Katy?)
When Patty was in Nevada, she sent a postcard to Katy.
Repetition: Donít repeat (words, phrases, clauses, sentences, ideas) unless you have a good reason to do so (for example, emphasis or coherence). See Coherence above.
Run-On Sentence: You have incorrectly punctuated two or more independent clauses as one sentence.
You can correct a run-on sentence either by supplying appropriate punctuation and/or a conjunction or by changing one of the clauses to a subordinate clause. See The Sentence, Adverb Clauses, Noun Clauses, Adjective Clauses, Comma Splice above, Fused Sentence above, Parallel Structures, and Punctuation.
Singular: This word should be singular.
Spelling: This word is not spelled correctly. Consult your dictionary. If the word is a verb, see Verbs. If you cannot find the word, consult your tutor or English-speaking friend.
British Spelling: There are some differences between British and American spelling. You should use the American spelling. Consult your dictionary.
Title: Here are some rules about titles: title1 A title is almost always a noun or noun phrase. title2 A title is almost never a clause. title3 A title never ends with a period. title4 A title must be centered on the top line. title5 There must be one empty line between the title and the first line of the first paragraph. title6 The first word, the last word, and all content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) in a title must begin with capital letters. title7 If you mention the title of a book, newspaper, magazine, movie, play, or musical work in your composition, you should underline it (or print it in italics). title8 Donít underline the title of your own composition, and donít print it in italics. title9 If you mention the title of a TV program, song, short story, article, chapter, or essay in your composition, you should put it in quotation marks (ď___Ē). title10 Donít put the title of your own composition in quotation marks.
Tense: Youíve used an incorrect tense (present, past) and/or aspect (perfect, progressive) and/or modal. Be sure you are logical and consistent in your use of tense, aspect, and modals. See Auxiliary Verbs, Modal Auxiliaries, Verbs A-L, Verbs M-Z, and Tenses.
Transition: A transitional word or phrase is needed here. Transitions are words or phrases that indicate relationships between sentences, clauses, ideas, paragraphs,.... Also see Coherence above. Here are some transitional words and phrases:
To indicate addition: moreover, further, furthermore, besides, likewise, also, again, in addition, equally important, next, first, second, third, in the first place, in the second place, finally, last,.... To indicate comparison: similarly, likewise, in the same way,.... To indicate contrast: however, still, nevertheless, even so, on the other hand, on the contrary, notwithstanding, for all that, in contrast, at the same time, otherwise, instead,.... To indicate place: here, beyond, nearby, opposite to, adjacent to, on the opposite side,.... To indicate purpose: to this end, for this purpose, with this object,.... To indicate result: hence, therefore, accordingly, consequently, thus, thereupon, as a result, then,.... To indicate time: meanwhile, at length, soon, then, next, after a few days, in the meantime, later, now, in the past, afterward,.... To indicate summary, repetition, exemplification, intensification: to sum up, in brief, on the whole, in sum, in summary, in short, as I have said, that is, in other words, to be sure, as has been noted, for example, for instance, in fact, indeed, at last, to tell the truth, in any event, thus,....
Verb-Intransitive: This verb is intransitive. Intransitive verbs cannot have objects. Intransitive verbs cannot be used in the passive voice. See Passive Sentences.
Verb-Transitive: This verb is transitive. Transitive verbs must have objects.
Word Division: When you reach the right margin and donít have enough space for a complete word, you can divide the word with a hyphen (-) and put part of it on the next line. Here are some rules about word division: wdiv1 Divide a word only between syllables. If you are not sure about syllables, look up the word in a dictionary. wdiv2 Never divide a word that has only one syllable. wdiv3 Never divide a word so that one letter stands alone. Donít divide words like this: a- lone, e- nough, eas- y. wdiv4 Never divide a word that has five or fewer letters. Donít divide words like this: on- ly, of- ten, hap- py. wdiv5 Never divide a word so that a two-letter ending comes at the beginning of a line. Donít divide words like this: want- ed, dress-es. wdiv6 When a word contains a double consonant, divide the word between the repeated consonants like this: sup- ply, con- nect, dif- ficulty. wdiv7 However, if a word ends with a double consonant and has an added ending, divide the word between the original word and the ending like this: spell- ing, miss- ing. wdiv8 Divide a hyphenated word only at a hyphen like this: father-in-law.
Wrong Form: This word is an inappropriate form. You must change it to an appropriate form. Consult your dictionary.
wf1 Change this word to its noun form.
wf2 Change this (these) word(s) to a predicate verb form (that is, a form with tense or a modal or a modal-like auxiliary). See ďWhat is a predicate verb?Ē in The Sentence. Also see Tenses, Auxiliary Verbs, Modal Auxiliaries, Verbs A-L, and Verbs M-Z.
wf3 Change this word to an adjective form. Adjectives have three forms:
Mary is a tall woman.
Fred has an expensive car.
George is taller than Mary.
Maryís car was more expensive than Fredís.
Fred is the tallest person in the group.
Georgeís car was the most expensive.
wf3d Many nouns can be used as adjectives. When a noun is used as an adjective, it is usually in its singular form:
* She has a three-years-old daughter.
She has a three-year-old daughter.
wf4 Change this word to an adverb form. Adverbs have three forms:
Fred studied hard.
George participated actively.
George studied harder than Fred.
Mary participated more actively than George.
Mary studied the hardest.
Fred participated the most actively.
wf5 Change this word to its BASE verb form. See Verbs A-L and Verbs M-Z.
wf6 Change this word to its participle form. See Verbs A-L and Verbs M-Z.
wf6a The participle form may be part of a passive or perfect verb phrase:
The recipe was written by Fred. (passive)
Fred has written the recipe. (present perfect)
wf6b Or the participle form may be a modifier:
Many cooks never use written recipes.
wf7 Change this word to its infinitive form (TO + BASE). See Verbs A-L and Verbs M-Z.
wf8 Change this word to its ING form. See Verbs A-L and Verbs M-Z.
wf8a The ING form may be part of a progressive verb phrase:
George is sleeping.
wf8b Or the ING form may be a modifier:
Donít disturb the sleeping man.
wf8cOr the ING form may be a noun (gerund).
Sleeping is his favorite pastime.
wf9 Change this pronoun to its subject form. See Pronoun above.
wf10 Change this pronoun to its object form. See Pronoun above.
wf11 Change this word to its possessive form. See Pronoun above for the possessive forms of the personal pronouns. See Adjective Clauses for the possessive relative pronoun. For the possessive forms of nouns and indefinite pronouns, follow these rules:
Add apostrophe + s to singular nouns and indefinite pronouns (Georgeís girlfriend, the teacherís book, somebodyís bicycle). Add apostrophe only to plural nouns which end with Ės (the boysí dreams, the studentsí compositions). Add apostrophe + s to plural nouns which donít end with Ės (the womenís movement, the childrenís toys).
Wordy: You have used many more words than necessary to say what you want to say. Try to express the same content with fewer words.
Wrong Word: This (These) word(s) is (are) not appropriate.
See Correction Symbols One for the symbols which do not begin with a letter.