Based on our observations, many students (both upper primary and lower primary students) make these mistakes unknowingly and it is hard to reverse these mistakes when they become bad habits.
However, with the right intervention, it is possible. Here are some common errors to look out for in your child’s writing:
1. Misuse of contractions:
Contractions such as “don’t”, “won’t”, “couldn’t” and “shouldn’t” are not grammar errors. However, the use of these contractions can come across as informal. Therefore, we discourage the use of contractions except for use in dialogue or speech.
Correct use: “I didn’t know that I needed to bring that book to school today,” said Jon to Mary.
Incorrect use: I wouldn’t do such a thing to anyone.
2. Capitalisation and non-capitalisation errors
When children are first embarking on their writing journey, they tend to make several of these errors. For example, they might not realise that they need to capitalise the pronoun “I” even when it is not placed at the beginning of a sentence.
Also, they may not know when to capitalise the first letters of proper nouns like the names of places or things.
Correct use: The Pacific Ocean, America, J.K. Rowling
Incorrect use: Children, Cookies, City
3. Use of the wrong tenses
Students often forget to use the past tense or the past perfect tense when they are recounting a story or writing about events that have already happened.
Also, there is often confusion between the use of the past tense and the past perfect tense. The past perfect tense is used to show an event that happened before another event that is described using the past tense.
Example: The boy had brushed (past perfect tense) his teeth before he went (past tense) to bed.
However, there are some exceptions to this rules. For facts that remain true even till today, the present should be used.
Correct use: There are four seasons in Europe.
Incorrect use: There were four seasons in Europe.
4. Punctuation Errors
Aside from neglecting to put a full stop at the end of a sentence, students tend to make other punctuation errors such as the lack of commas. Here are some examples of when commas should be used:
Then, I asked the waiter for the bill.
Soon, the woman realised that she had left her wallet in the car.
Next, I added in the tomatoes into the salad bowl.
Immediately, we knew that we were in big trouble.
After that, we went back to bed.
Punctuation errors also tend to be rampant when dialogue is used. Here are some examples of correct and incorrect usage of punctuation in dialogues.
Correct: “I will meet you at 5pm,” said Amy to her best friend.
Incorrect: “I will meet you at 5pm.” said Amy to her best friend.
Correct: She exclaimed, “I am so shocked!”
Incorrect: She exclaimed, “I am so shocked!”.
Correct: “I am going out now,” Jeremy told his mother.
Incorrect: “I am going out now” Jeremy told his mother.
To improve the quality of your child’s writing, he or she needs to become more cognisant of these errors and learns how to edit and correct these mistakes Like all things, practice makes perfect!