Common Errors to avoid in a Term Paper

Different instructors have different expectations for term papers. What follows is a list of common errors that most instructors would agree should be avoided. If you want more information, browse through these other resources.

Errors of Grammar
Problem: Multiple Personalities

This error arises when people try to avoid awkward phrases such as “his or her”, “he or she”, “him or her”. Often, the author will turn his singular subject into a plural later in the sentence in order to get around the problem. For example:

A mountie always gets their man.

In this example, the single mountie at the beginning of the sentence has become several mounties by the end of the sentence. One way around the problem is to use “his”, but this assumes that a woman cannot be a mountie. “A mountie always gets his or her man” does not have much of a ring to it, either. Common Errors to avoid in a Term Paper

Solution: 
Change the subject to a plural to avoid discriminatory language. The sentence should be rewritten as

Mounties always get their man.

In this case, the mounties in question can be either men or women, and their pronoun agrees with their number.

Problem: 
Dehumanization

This happens when writers turn people into objects. For example:

A mountie is a person that rides a horse.

“That” should refer only to inanimate objects, not people who live and breathe and appear in sentences.

Solution:
“That” should be changed to “who”:

A mountie is a person who rides a horse.

A person is a who, not a that.

Problem: 
Possession