Common Essay Mistakes—Writing Errors to Avoid [Updated]

One of the most critical skills that students gain during their college years is assignment writing. Composing impressive essays and research papers can be quite challenging, especially for ESL students. Nonetheless, before learning the art of academic writing, you may make numerous common essay mistakes.

Such involuntary errors appear in:

  • essays’ content;
  • academic style;
  • structure and overall organization;
  • spelling and punctuation;
  • grammar.

Good news for you! Our experts prepared a list that contains and explains all of them. Find out about common mistakes in essay writing and do your best not to make them.

📃 Content Mistakes in Essays

A perfect essay usually has an impressive introduction, well-organized content, and a powerful conclusion. Lousy college essays often lack structure or content and do not impress the reader.

What should you do?

Follow these six tips when writing any type of essay:

  1. Always write an essay that includes relevant facts, concrete details, and specific examples.
    If you just write down a few paragraphs that have something to do with your topic, you will not succeed in writing a good essay. Read the question carefully before you start writing. Single out the keywords and then elaborate on your ideas with facts, details, and examples.
  2. Write a good introduction.
    An exciting introduction gives the background for the whole essay. In the introduction, you should make your presentation of the essay topic. To write a good introduction paragraph, tell your reader what you are going to write.
  3. Write a strong thesis statement.
    The thesis statement expresses the writer’s thoughts on the topic and tells the reader how the idea will be developed. A good thesis statement explains two critical things to the reader: what you plan to argue in your essay and how you plan to do it. Always support your thesis with your ideas in the central part of the paper.
  4. Never write a thesis statement if you do not have enough ideas to support it.
    While planning your essay, you should think carefully and ask yourself whether you have enough ideas to support your thesis. And if you are not sure, formulate another one that you will be able to argue.
  5. Use ideas that you can prove with examples.
    Keep in mind: Any idea should be clarified and proved. So always give appropriate examples. If some of your writing has awkward wording, you can use an online sentence changer to fix it.
  6. Write a powerful conclusion.
    In the end, take advantage of your last chance to say something important to your readers. You should emphasize the purpose and importance of what you wrote in your essay.
Topic+Your Opinion+Reasons=Thesis.


The thesis is the hook on which any essay hangs.

🔍 Stylistic Mistakes in Writing

Even if it’s written interestingly, your essay may make a poor impression if you do not use the correct style.

These are five essay mistakes that most students make:

  1. Word repetition.
    Here is the truth: Your essay will look dull and childish if you use the same lexical sets. So, use synonyms and word substitutes to avoid repeating the same nouns or verbs.
  2. Too many passive structures.
    When you use the passive voice in your sentences, they sound more impersonal and objective, but they are longer and harder to read. On the contrary, active sentences are clear and direct. So, if you want to write a good essay, you should use both types. A good rule of thumb is to write less than 20 percent of your sentences in the passive voice.
  3. Sentences that are too long or too short.
    If you use sentences that are too long, you make your essay harder to understand. On the other hand, you can destroy your idea’s logical development if your sentences are too short. Try to use a balance of both long and short sentences.
  4. Sentences beginning with coordinating conjunctions.
    Coordinating conjunctions are mainly used to connect words and clauses in the same sentence. Sometimes we can also use them to start a sentence. But if you begin too many sentences with coordinating conjunctions, your essay will be monotonous. It’s better to use corresponding conjunctive adverbs like nevertheless, moreover, or however, which have the same meaning. They are more appropriate in a formal context.
  5. Overly formal or informal words and phrases.
    Many students forget that an academic essay requires a vocabulary layer that we do not use in our everyday lives. Never use slang expressions and nonstandard verb forms like gotta or wanna in your academic papers. Check English slang dictionaries if you struggle to find a proper replacement phrase or word. You should use formal constructions and high-level vocabulary.
Verbs: Don’t use too many passive structure in essay.

In doubt, always consult a good dictionary to choose the proper word. If you’re unsure whether you can implement a phrase in context, see it in other text. You can do it by typing it in a search engine.

📝 Structural Mistakes In Student Essays

An essay is a long-established form of academic writing, and there are strict rules for writing every type. They make it more manageable to organize one’s thoughts without limiting creativity.

The most common structural mistakes are:

  1. Sentence errors.
    The most typical sentence errors are fragments and run-on sentences.
    • Fragments:
      Fragments occur when you punctuate groups of words as complete sentences. They do not express a complete thought because they do not contain independent clauses. As a result, they make your meaning unclear.
      There are two ways to correct such mistakes:
      • You can expand the fragment into a complete sentence by supplying the missing elements such as subjects, verbs, and clauses.
      • You can incorporate the fragment into an adjacent sentence.
    • Run-On Sentences:
      Run-on sentences occur when you join two or more main clauses together without appropriate punctuation. Run-on sentences confuse the reader. What can you do to correct them?
      Fortunately, this is pretty simple:
      Divide a run-on sentence into separate sentences to fix it, or add coordinating or subordinating conjunctions.
Sentence structure errors.
  1. Text structure errors in essays.
    The most common errors in writing essays structure is a lack of proper paragraph division. When you make such mistakes, you will not be able to convey your meaning effectively.
    Any essay must have at least four paragraphs:
    • the introduction,
    • two main body paragraphs,
    • and the conclusion.

Your text and sentences should have a clear structure and present your ideas’ complete development.

In the following sections, you’ll see how to avoid grammar, vocabulary, and spelling mistakes.

🔤 Grammar Mistakes in Writing

A successful essay must be grammatically correct. Learn the most common types of such errors in student essays, not to repeat them yourself.

  1. Noun form mistakes.
    You should study key grammar areas to help you succeed. Review the rules concerning countable and uncountable nouns. Make sure you know how to use determiners with singular and plural nouns.
  2. Subject-predicate agreement
    Pay attention to the cases when words like both, some, or neither introduce compound subjects and still take the plural predicate.
  3. Pronouns
    Pronouns always agree with the noun they refer to. Some indefinite pronouns can have only a plural form or merely a singular form, but some can have both depending on the situation.
  4. Verb form mistakes.
    Remember the main grammar rules related to the use of stative and auxiliary verbs and correct use of the infinitive and modal verbs.
Modal Verbs Express.

For more information about correcting grammar mistakes in essays, consult grammar and writing resources around the web. To avoid them, proofread your writing. Always check whether you have used the grammar forms mentioned above correctly.

Still uncertain about what not to write in a college essay? You can get help from essay writing companies that provide editing and proofreading services.

📘 Vocabulary Mistakes in Essays

Even if you develop your ideas logically, your grammar is correct, and your style is perfect, your writing can be a disaster. How so? You may make vocabulary mistakes that can ruin your paper.

The three most common language errors in essay writing are:

  1. Misuse of homonyms.
    Many students typically misuse the following homonyms: hear vs. here, hole vs. whole, its vs. it’s, and many more.
  2. Wrong word form.
    When we write quickly, we may write a word form that differs from what we meant to write. For example, students often write verb forms instead of adjectives. This can result in an unintended change of meaning (disable people instead of disabled people).
  3. Confused words.
    Spellcheck will not identify the incorrect use of such words as looselose, affecteffect, quitequitquiet, and acceptexcept. You should proofread your essay carefully to make sure you’ve used the correct words.
Commonly Confused Words.

You can use the following strategies to eliminate such errors:

  • Plan your writing ahead, picking lexicon.
  • Use a dictionary or Google to ensure the right meaning.
  • Leave enough time for composing so that you won’t hurry.
  • Always proofread your writing, paying attention to the language you used.

If you can, leave your paper for several days. Finish your first draft and forget about it for a while. Checking it for essay errors proves to be efficient when you’ve rested and haven’t seen the text some time.

✍️ Spelling Mistakes in Essays

Numerous students say that the English language’s spelling system is the most unpredictable in the world. That is not true. There are some tricky words in English, like weigh, Caribbean, or island. You can do nothing but memorize their spelling. But several other words do follow special rules.

The most common spelling mistakes are the following:

CorrectNot CorrectWhat to pay attention to
achieveacheivefirst i, then e
acrossaccross one c
bizarrebizzareone z, double -r
cemeterycemetaryends with -ery
comingcomming one m
committeecomiteedouble m, double t, double e
environmentenviromentn before the m
foreignforiegne before i
happenedhappendends with -ened
harassmentharrassment one r, double s
necessaryneccessaryone c, doube s
successfulsuccesful double c, double s
tendencytendancyends with -ency
tomorrowtommorrow one m, double r
weirdwierd e before i

After you have written your essay, read it carefully and correct your spelling mistakes. Make a list of the words that you usually misspell and practice writing them over and over.

⁉️ Punctuation Mistakes in Writing

Punctuation is essential in essay writing. It is used to separate ideas, relate ideas to one another, and clarify meaning. Without correct punctuation, your readers will get confused and frustrated rather quickly.

Proper punctuation is required in college essays and research papers. Learn the rules regarding the use of commas, apostrophes, and hyphens to avoid making punctuation errors.

Here is a list of the vital punctuation rules to remember:

  1. Put a comma after the introductory dependent clause.

An introductory dependent clause is a phrase before the subject that does not form a complete sentence.

  • Incorrect: Since Miss Ostin got promoted to the chief editor position she decided not to change her workplace.
  • Correct: Since Miss Ostin got promoted to the chief editor position, she decided not to change her workplace.
  1. Use a comma to separate non-essential info in the sentence.

Are there some clarifications that may be removed from the sentence, and the reader will still get the key idea? Separate this information with punctuation marks!

  • Incorrect: My sister who recently got married is pregnant now. 
  • Correct: My sister, who recently got married, is pregnant now.
  1. Put commas around interrupters.

Interrupters are the words that provide additional detail by breaking the flow of the sentence. Always separate them with commas.

  • Incorrect: Hopefully my essay topic is suitable for the given type of assignment. 
  • Correct: Hopefully, my essay topic is suitable for the given type of assignment.
  1. Use semicolons in too complex sentences.

Sometimes the sentence is too long, yet the information should be taken together. In such cases, put a semicolon between two parts instead of separating them with a period.

  • Incorrect: I was planning to study abroad however due to certain family issues I took a gap year and stayed at home. 
  • Correct: I was planning to study abroad; however, due to certain family issues, I took a gap year and stayed at home. 

And now, last but not least. Here’s a helpful video about the most common mistakes in ESL student essays. The essay writing techniques explained in this video lesson are useful for any student who wants to write good papers.

Thank you for visiting our page! Use our tips and avoid common errors in essay writing. Don’t forget to leave your comment and share the article with your friends!

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✏️ Frequent Questions

❓ How to write an essay in English without grammar mistakes?

There are several tips to improve grammar in your article:

  1. Avoid overly complex grammatical structures;
  2. Use ready-made connecting phrases and collocations;
  3. Proofread your text several times, perhaps read aloud and correct your mistakes;
  4. Run your text through a grammar checker (through desktop software or online).
❓ What to avoid when writing an essay?

There is quite a few you should avoid in order to write a good essay, e.g.:

  1. Too colloquial phrases;
  2. Excessive repetition of some words;
  3. Misprints, mistakes, and wrong formatting;
  4. Too emotional and subjective sentences;
  5. Too long sentences with complex grammatical constructions, etc.
❓ What words not to use in an essay?

There are particular “stop”-words that you should not include in an article. They can be divided into the following groups:

  1. colloquial language, rude comments;
  2. simplified connecting words (e.g., “And,” “But,” “Or” at the beginning of a sentence);
  3. excessively complex and almost obsolete words.
❓ How to correct essay writing?

You may correct your text in various ways. Some possible strategies are:

  1. Read the essay aloud;
  2. Ask your friend to proofread the essay;
  3. Read the paragraphs from the bottom to the top;
  4. Run an automatic checker (in desktop software or online), etc.
This article was developed by the editorial team of, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
Comments (5)


is there a set author taking credit for publishing this information ?
because i would love to reference the author in my paper

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Hello! You can reference it as a web source/web page.

William Oscar
William Oscar

People do not have much time for essays and are usually distracted in different things. Essays writing requires tons of concentration and a particular flow that the writer should maintain. Otherwise, it will not be interesting for the audience. Planning is so important in essay writing. Thanks for sharing these tips.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith



Thanks for your hard work