Newark, DE, April 17, 2007 - Findings from recent research on the most common English grammar errors might surprise educators and researchers. WhiteSmoke software just released its list of top-ten error types among users of its online writing software.
Five of the top ten are categories of spelling errors, accounting for over half of the top-ten errors (53.2%). The remaining non-spelling categories are: prepositions (16.2%), double negatives (15.3%), slang / non-standard usage (9%), word choice (3.6%) and verb form (2.7%).
WhiteSmoke’s sophisticated technology allows for unique research using large amounts of data on grammar errors made by a wide range of “real world” writers. The software company corrects over a million sentences a month.
With online delivery, it is able to analyze the types of errors that users make, and at what frequencies. Using its large fount of data, the company developed its top-ten list of error types.
General spelling errors, including typos, are the number one type of error. Specific types of spelling errors make up four other categories in the top ten: aural errors (e.g., “could of” instead of “could’ve”) at fourth, compound words at sixth, and contractions and their / there confusion tied at seventh.
This data interests teachers and researchers.
Some of the findings, such as prepositions as the second most common error types, might well suggest linguistic shifts. Double negatives, ranked third, also raise questions about linguistic shifts among English speakers.
The fifth-ranked error category certainly arises from linguistic shifts: slang and non-standard usage. Examples include using “cuz” for “because” or “gonna” for “going to.”
These, in fact, might be signs of email and text message writing styles spilling into more formal occasions.
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