Common English mistakes in academic writing


In the realm of academic writing, students often find themselves repeating the same linguistic errors. These regular mistakes can detract from the clarity and effectiveness of their scholarly work. By looking at this collection of common mistakes, you can learn to sidestep these traps. Overcoming these mistakes not only refines your writing but also improves its academic quality and professionalism. So, let’s delve into the main mistakes students make and learn how to avoid them.

Spelling mistakes

Spellcheckers are useful in writing, but they don’t catch every mistake. Often, certain spelling mistakes slip past these tools, especially in detailed documents like academic theses and research papers. Knowing these commonly misspelled words and how to use them correctly can greatly enhance the precision and quality of your writing. Here, you’ll find a list of these words with their correct spellings and examples to help you enhance your accuracy in academic writing.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
AcheiveAchieveResearchers aim to achieve a deeper understanding of the genetic mechanisms involved in the process.
AdressAddressThe study aims to address the gap in knowledge regarding sustainable urban development.
BenifitBenefitThe benefit of this approach is evident in its application to quantum computing studies.
CalenderCalendarThe academic calendar sets important deadlines for research grant submissions.
ConciousConsciousScholars must be conscious of ethical considerations in their experimental designs.
DefinatelyDefinitelyThis hypothesis definitely requires further testing under controlled conditions.
DependantDependentThe outcome is dependent on a variety of environmental factors.
DisatisfiedDissatisfiedThe researcher was dissatisfied with the limitations of the current methodology.
EmbarassEmbarrassA thorough review was necessary to not embarrass the authors with overlooked errors.
ExistanceExistenceThe existence of multiple interpretations highlights the complexity of historical analysis.
FocussedFocusedThe study focused on the impact of climate change on Arctic ecosystems.
GovermentGovernmentGovernment policies play a crucial role in public health initiatives.
HeteroskedesticityHeteroskedasticityThe analysis took into account the heteroskedasticity of the data set.
HomogenusHomogenousThe sample was homogenous, allowing for a controlled comparison of variables.
ImediateImmediateImmediate steps were taken to rectify the errors in data collection.
IndependantIndependentIndependent variables were manipulated to observe the effect on the dependent variables.
LabratoryLaboratoryLaboratory conditions were strictly monitored during the experiment.
LiscenseLicenseThe research was conducted under the license granted by the ethics committee.
MorgageMortgageThe study examined the effects of mortgage rates on the housing market.
ThereforThereforehe experiment yielded consistent results, therefore it is reasonable to accept the hypothesis.
WetherWhetherThe study aims to determine whether there is a significant relationship between sleep patterns and academic performance.
WichWhichThe team debated which statistical approach would be most suitable for analyzing the data.

Precision in word selection

Selecting the right word is important in academic writing, as each word carries a specific meaning and tone. Common mistakes in word choice can lead to confusion and weaken the impact of your work. This section highlights these mistakes and explains why certain words are more appropriate in an academic context. By understanding these differences and reviewing the examples provided, you can refine your word selection to improve the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.

IncorrectCorrectWhyExample sentence
Researches were conducted.The research was conducted.Research” is an uncountable noun.In-depth research was conducted to explore the link between diet and cognitive health.
She did good on the test.She did well on the test.Use “well” as an adverb to describe actions; “good” is an adjective describing nouns.She performed exceptionally well on the test, achieving one of the highest scores.
The amount of variables may change.The number of variables may change.Use “number” with countable nouns (e.g., variables), and “amount” with uncountable nouns (e.g., air).In the model, the number of variables influencing the outcome was found to be higher than initially thought.
The students thatThe students whoUse “who” with people, and “that” with things.The students who completed the advanced course demonstrated higher proficiency in the subject matter.
This data is compelling.These data are compelling.Data” is a plural noun; use “these” and “are” instead of “this” and “is.”These data are crucial for understanding the environmental trends over the past decade.
His advise was helpful.His advice was helpful.Advice” is a noun meaning a suggestion; “advise” is a verb meaning to give advice.His advice on the project was instrumental in shaping its successful outcome.
The company will ensure their success.The company will ensure its success.Use “its” for the possessive form of “it”; “their” is used for the plural possessive.The company will ensure its success through strategic planning and innovation.
The principle reason for the study.The principal reason for the study.Principal” means main or most important; the “principle” is a noun meaning a fundamental truth.The principal reason for the study was to investigate the effects of climate change on marine biodiversity.

Correct capitalization in writing

Capitalization rules are key to keeping the formality and clarity in writing, particularly in academic and professional documents. Proper use of capital letters helps in differentiating between specific names and general terms, thereby improving the readability of your text. This section explores common capitalization mistakes and their corrections, attended by example sentences.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
The United States GovernmentThe United States governmentIn the study, policies from the United States government were analyzed for their effectiveness.
European Union LawsEuropean Union lawsThe research focused on the impact of European Union laws on international trade.
Results Of The InterviewsResults of the InterviewsThe methodology section, outlined in the ‘Results of the Interviews‘ section, details the approach used in conducting the interviews.
French revolutionFrench RevolutionThe French Revolution had a significant impact on European politics.
in Chapter Fourin chapter fourThe methodology is discussed in detail in chapter four of the thesis.

Effective use of adjectives

Adjectives play a vital role in enhancing the descriptive quality of writing, especially in academic contexts where precision is key. However, choosing the right adjective is important as a slight mistake can change the intended meaning of a sentence. This section focuses on common mistakes in the use of adjectives and demonstrates the correct usage with examples. Understanding these nuances will help you prepare clearer and more impactful sentences, thereby improving the overall quality of your paper.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
PoliticPoliticalThe political landscape significantly influences environmental policy-making.
SpeciallyEspeciallyThe study was especially critical in understanding the regional impacts of the phenomenon.
Are both similarAre similarWhile the two methodologies are similar in approach, their outcomes differ significantly.
QuantitiveQuantitativeQuantitative methods were employed to assess the statistical significance of the findings.
So called…, factor based…So-called…, factor-based…The so-called breakthrough was actually the result of meticulous, factor-based analysis.
EmpiricEmpiricalEmpirical data is crucial in validating the hypotheses presented in the study.
SystematicalSystematicSystematic investigation is essential for drawing accurate and reliable conclusions.

Conjunctions and connecting terms

Conjunctions and connecting terms are essential components of writing that connect ideas and sentences smoothly, ensuring coherence and flow. However, their misuse can lead to unclear or incorrect connections between thoughts. This section addresses common mistakes in the use of these terms and provides the correct forms, along with example sentences.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
Despite ofDespiteDespite the adverse weather conditions, the fieldwork was completed successfully.
However …However, …However, the results from the latest experiment challenge this long-held assumption.
On the other hand,Conversely,The urban area showed an increase in population, while conversely, the rural regions experienced a decline.
First of all, firstlyFirstFirst, a comprehensive review of the existing literature was conducted to establish a foundation for the study.
On account ofDue toDue to the recent findings in the study, the research team has revised their initial hypothesis.
In addition ofIn addition toIn addition to environmental factors, the study also considered economic impacts.

Accuracy in nouns and noun phrase usage

The correct use of nouns and noun phrases is essential in academic writing, as it directly affects the clarity and accuracy of the information presented. Mistakes in this area can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. This section highlights these common mistakes and offers clear corrections. By familiarizing yourself with these examples, you can avoid such mistakes and ensure your writing is precise and easily understood.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentenceWhy?
Two analysisTwo analysesOf the two analyses conducted, the second provided more comprehensive insights.“Analyses” is the plural of “analysis.”
Research conclusionResearch conclusionsThe research conclusions underscored the need for further investigation into the phenomenon.Conclusions” is the plural “conclusion,” indicating multiple findings or results.
A phenomenaA phenomenon / PhenomenaThe observed phenomenon was unique to this particular ecological niche.Phenomenon” is the singular, and “phenomena” is the plural.
Insights inInsights intoThe study provides critical insights into the underlying mechanisms of the biochemical process.Into” is used to express movement towards or into something, appropriate for “insights.
One criteriaOne criterionWhile multiple criteria were evaluated, one criterion significantly influenced the final decision.Criterion” is the singular of “criteria.
The peoples’ responseThe people’s responseThe survey was designed to gauge the people’s response to the new public policy initiatives.People” is already plural; “peoples” would imply multiple distinct groups.
The professors opinionsThe professors’ opinionsThe paper was reviewed considering the professors’ opinions on contemporary economic theories.The apostrophe indicates the possessive form of a plural noun (professors).

Number punctuation

Accurate punctuation in numerical expressions is key to keeping clarity in scholarly and professional writing. This part of the guide focuses on correcting common mistakes in the punctuation of numbers.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
1000’s of participantsThousands of participantsThe study involved thousands of participants from various regions.
4.1.20234/1/2023The data was collected on 4/1/2023 during the peak of the phenomenon.
5.000,505,000.50The total cost of the equipment was $5,000.50.
1980’s1980sThe technological advancements of the 1980s were groundbreaking.
3.5km3.5 kmThe distance between the two points was accurately measured as 3.5 km.

Understanding prepositions

Prepositions are essential elements in writing, showing relationships between words and clarifying sentence structure. However, mistakes in their use can lead to misunderstandings and unclear communication. This section illustrates common mistakes with prepositions and prepositional phrases, offering the correct usage to ensure sentence clarity.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
PerByResults were analyzed by comparing different demographic groups.
Different toDifferent fromThe results of this study are different from those of previous research.
Besides, Next toIn addition toIn addition to conducting surveys, the researchers also performed field observations.
On behalf ofOn the part ofThere was a lack of interest on the part of the students in the subject matter.
From…till…From…to…The temperature range for the experiment was set from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Agree onAgree withThe committee members agree with the proposed changes.
Comply toComply withThe researchers must comply with the ethical guidelines.
Dependent toDependent on/uponThe outcome is dependent on the accuracy of the data collected.

Correct use of pronouns

Pronouns, when used properly, lend clearness and conciseness to writing. This section addresses common pronoun mistakes and provides correct usage examples.

A person should ensure their safety.A person should ensure his or her safety.
Researchers should cite his or her sources.Researchers should cite their sources.
If you read the study, you may be convinced.If one reads the study, one may be convinced.


Proper use of quantifiers is required for precise expression, especially in conveying amounts and quantities. This segment explains frequent quantifier mistakes and their correct usage.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
Less peopleFewer peopleFewer people attended the event this year than last year.
Much studentsMany studentsMany students are participating in the international science fair.
A large amount of participantsA large number of participantsA large number of participants registered for the workshop.
A little of studentsA few studentsA few students opted to take the advanced course.
A small quantity of booksA few booksThe library has a few books on this rare topic.
A lot of timeMuch time, a great deal of timeThe research team dedicated much time to analyzing the data.

Finalizing with verb and phrasal verb usage

In our final exploration of common English mistakes, we focus on verbs and phrasal verbs. This section demystifies common mistakes in their use, offering more suitable alternatives to refine your writing style.

IncorrectCorrectExample sentence
Investigate onInvestigateThe committee will investigate the matter thoroughly.
Deal up withDeal withThe manager must deal with the issue promptly.
Look forward forLook forward toThe team looks forward to collaborating on this project.
Work out onWork on / Work outThe engineer is working on a new design. / They worked out a solution to the problem.
Cut down ofCut down onWe need to cut down on expenses to maintain our budget.
Make a photoTake a photoWhile exploring the city, she decided to take a photo of the historic landmarks she visited.
Divide inDivide intoThe report was divided into several sections to address each aspect of the study.

If you need further assistance with these and other language difficulties, our platform offers comprehensive support for proofreading correction. Our services are designed to help you refine your writing, ensuring clarity and precision in every aspect.


Throughout this guide, we’ve navigated common mistakes in academic writing, covering everything from spelling to phrasal verbs. Each section highlighted key errors and provided corrections to improve clarity and professionalism in your work. Understanding and correcting these mistakes is vital for effectively communicating your ideas. Should you need further help, our platform offers specialized proofreading services to address these mistakes, ensuring your writing is clear and precise for your academic pursuits.

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