Common Mistakes

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Commas with Nonrestrictive Modifiers

A modifying word, phrase, or clause following a noun is set off by commas if it presents information which is not essential to identify the noun or the meaning of the sentence. This is called a nonrestrictive modifier, i.e., it does not restrict the meaning of the noun or sentence. Example: Any student not sitting

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There/Their/They’re

Their is a possessive pronoun. It always describes a noun. Note the spelling of their. It comes from the word they, so the e comes before the i. There is an adverb meaning “that location.” It is sometimes used with the verb to be as an idiom. It is spelled like here which means “this

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Where/That

Do not use where to replace that. This mistake is common with verbs like read or see. Incorrect: Joanna saw where the president was coming to town.(Unless you mean she saw the place he was coming to!) Correct: Joanna saw that the president was coming to town.

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Commas with Geographical Names

When a geographical name or location has two or more parts to it, use a comma after each different type of part. A second comma follows the last item, unless it comes at the end of the sentence. Incorrect: I meant Pittsburg Kansas instead of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Commas needed to separate city and state) Incorrect:

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