Common Errors in Student Writing

Sentence Patterns in English

Every sentence in English must have a subject and a verb.


Subject Verb
The lesson ended.

You can add different sentence parts to expand the basic sentence:

The lesson ended late.

The lesson ended later than we expected.

The lesson ended when the bell rang.

When the lesson ended, we left.

The music lesson ended early.

The musician played the entire piece.

Subjects and Verbs

The subject of a sentence must agree in number with the verb. This is called Subject-Verb agreement. An “s” on the verb means it is singular. No “s” on the verb means it is plural.

Subject Verb       Note: This - singular
This student  wants  to study French.   These - plural
Subject Verb      
These students  want  to study French.    

He plays well.

The orchestra practices each evening.

They practice after dinner.


Nouns name a person, place, or thing. Singular nouns do NOT have an “s.” Plural nouns DO have an “s.”

Singular form   Plural form
A student   students
An apartment   apartments
A pen   pens

Punctuation Tips

Every sentence in English must have a period (.) You can also use an exclamation point (!) or a semi-colon (;) where appropriate. Questions must end with a question mark (?).

John’s rendition of Mozart’s Concerto was exquisite.

What an exquisite rendition of Mozart’s Concerto!

  • “What a ______” is a phrase that shows excitement and deserves an exclamation point.

John’s rendition of Mozart’s Concerto was exquisite; he should consider making a recording of the piece.

  • A semi-colon ends a complete sentence, but is followed by a lower case letter (“h” not “H”). This punctuation mark should be used only occasionally in a paper, not as an alternative to a period.

Who played Mozart’s Concerto?

  • A direct question must end with a question mark.
About this site