Last year, we published an article outlining the top 4 grammar mistakes made by Outwrite (or back then, GradeProof) users. Since then, we've introduced several new features, improved existing ones, and passed over 1 million users worldwide. But have our users' writing errors changed too?

To find out, we analysed Outwrite's most frequently shown grammar-related suggestions over the past twelve months. Let's take a look at the stats:

1. Commas

In 2019, the most common grammar mistake made by Outwrite users was word confusion. Many of you needed help differentiating between tricky homophones like "there", "their" and "they're".

This time, it was the humble comma. The punctuation mark was responsible for 28.5% of grammar errors detected, with most people either forgetting to include commas in their writing, or using them incorrectly.

We've already explored some tips and tricks when it comes to commas. They have many uses, like indicating a pause, separating clauses in a sentence, or dividing three or more items in a list.

A handy way to remember when to use a comma is the "FANBOYS" acronym, which represents the first letter of the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. These joining words should always be preceded with a comma when writing a compound sentence.

But reader, beware. While they may be grammatically correct, using too many commas can make your writing more difficult to understand. So keep an eye on your Outwrite readability score, and enable our eloquence suggestions to ensure your writing is clear and concise.

2. Determiners

Like last year, the second most common grammar error was missing determiners. It made up 20% of all grammar corrections, about double the rate of 2019.

Determiners are words you use before a noun, like "the", "your", and "this". It should also come before any adjectives you use to describe a noun, but is optional for plural nouns.

While there are many different types of determiners, Outwrite users struggled with indefinite articles "a" and "an" the most. For those who need a refresher, you use the former for a consonant sound, and the latter for a vowel sound. For example:

  • a robot
  • a unicorn
  • an orange
  • an hour

3. Capitalization

Third place went to capitalization, which made up 7.8% of grammar errors. This included the absence of capital letters at the start of a sentence, or forgetting to capitalize the pronoun "I" when referring to yourself.

While Outwrite will pick up any capitalization errors automatically, remember to capitalize:

  • The first word of a sentence
  • Proper nouns (like the names of people, places and companies)
  • Adjectives derived from proper nouns
  • The first word of a quote, if it is a complete sentence

If you're writing for work, check if your company has a style guide. This should set out any capitalisation rules, like whether they use sentence case or title case (at Outwrite, we use the former).

4. Verbs

We round out the top four grammar corrections with verb usage, on 7.3%. Outwrite users particularly struggled with incorrect verb tense, which is unsurprising considering the English language has 12 major verb tenses.

Changing between past, present and future tense is relatively easy when you're dealing with regular verbs, like "cook" and "walk". But when it comes to irregular verbs, the rules are not so straightforward. For example, the past tense of the word "sing" is "sang". You can read more about how to use verbs correctly here.

Outwrite also detected several verb errors when using the third-person pronouns "she/he". Since we're only talking about one person, we should use a singular verb. For example:

  • She drinks coffee every morning
  • He watches Netflix with his friends

If you can't remember which verb to use, Outwrite's experimental Verb Form feature will help you out.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the top 4 grammar mistakes for this year. If you would like to view your own Outwrite progress, opt-in to our marketing emails, and we'll send you a personalized statistics email every week.

If you haven't joined Outwrite yet and would like to try our advanced grammar checker, you can create a free account here.

We'll be sharing some more stats about Outwrite usage soon. Stay tuned!

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