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The Dirty Dozen
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If you have any comments or questions about the material in this site, please contact Nancy Alexander.
Welcome to The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen is a list of the twelve worst and most common errors in English. These are the errors that make English teachers run out of red ink and pull out their hair. Teachers in the English department, teachers of writing enrichment classes, and other Methodist University instructors will emphasize these errors.
This web site is designed to acquaint you with the Dirty Dozen errors, help you recognize and correct them, and test your understanding of them.
Note on Grammar Terminology
In order to explain the Dirty Dozen errors, we have had to use some terms like “independent clause,” “coordinating conjunction,” and so forth. We encourage you not to get bogged down in this terminology; in many cases you will learn these errors best by looking at the examples rather than studying the definitions. That said, if you would like a definition of a term, simply hover over the term, like this. Also, all terms are defined on the Terms page.
Note on Illogical Sentences
Some sentences that students write do not conform to any of the Dirty Dozen errors. They are not comma splices, they don’t have dangling modifiers in them, they don’t exhibit faulty predication—they’re just grammatically off-kilter, out of whack, illogical. Here are some examples:
We will label sentences such as these “illogical sentence structure,” and we’ll use the abbreviation “iss” in marking these errors.
Exercises are in PDF format, which requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader.Error 2: The Fused Sentence