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List of Diction Errors

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List of Diction Errors

Post by Write Smart Club on Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:28 am

Words such as "a lot", "lots of" , ... should never be used in a TOEFL/SAT or College Essay, because they are forms of nonstandard diction. Here are some common mistakes


1. a lot/lots of
Colloquial : Debbie likes her job a lot
Standard : Debbie likes her job very much
Colloquial : Lots of children watch cartoons on Saturday mornings
Standard : Many children watch cartoons on Saturday mornings


2. Around/ about
Colloquial : The mail usually comes around noon ( Avoid using around to designate time, distance, or any other quantity, as in around 3 hours, ... )
Standard : The mail usually comes at about noon


3. Badly - as used as a substitute for "very much"
Colloquial : The twins badly want tickets to the concert
Standard : The twins desperately want tickets to the concert


4. Because ( used after reason )
Nonstandard : The reason for her back pain is because she has poor posture
Standard : The reason for her back pain is that she has poor posture


5. Bunch
Colloquial : A bunch of girls drove off in a light blue minivan ( Use bunch for objects bound or growing together, like flowers and papers, not for people )
Standard : A group of girls drove off in a light blue minivan


6. Each other/one other (Each other refers to 2, one another refers to more than 2)
Colloquial:At midnight, all the people on the bus wished each other a happy new year
Standard:At midnight, all the people on the bus wished one other a happy new year


7. Free gift
Redundant : Gifts, by definition, are free ; otherwise they wouldn't be gifts


8. Graduate
Colloquial : It took me 5 years to graduate high school
Standard : It took me 5 years to graduate from high school


9. Guy
Colloquial : A guy on the train was singing at the top of his lungs
Standard : A man ( person, passenger, ... ) was singing at the .....


10. In / Into ( Avoid using "in" when you mean "into". "In" means "within", while "into" refers to the motion of going from outside to inside )
Nonstandard : Hal went in the store to buy a soda
Standard : Hal went into the store to buy a soda


11. Kind of / sort of ( Avoid using "kind of" and "sort of" when you mean "very" , "rather" or "somewhat" )
Colloquial : Doug was kind of upset when he heard the news
Standard : Dough was somewhat upset when he heard the news


12. Like / as
Nonstandard : Adam plans to write a letter of complaint, just like Sandra does.
Standard : Adam plans to write a letter of complaint, just as Sandra does.


13. like / maybe ( Avoid using "like" and "maybe" in making estimates, use "approximately", "perhaps" or "about" )
Colloquial : There were like /may be twenty cars in the parking lot
Standard : There were approximately twenty cars in the parking lot


14. Mean
Colloquial : Jill has never been mean to her brother, although he's a brat
Standard : Jill has never been cruel to her brother, although he's a brat


15. Natural instinct
Redundant : Instincts are natural !


16. Out loud
Colloquial : Norma heard her name called out loud in the middle .....
Standard : Norma heard her name called aloud in the middle .....


17. On account of
Colloquial : On the account of the snow, hardly anyone came to ....
Standard : Because of the snow, hardly anyone came to .....


18. Plenty
Colloquial : It must have been plenty cold because the pipes froze
Colloquial : It must have been very cold because the pipes froze


18. So ( The use of "so" as synonym for "therefore" is extremely informal )
Colloquial : Nikita thought that Maria was hungry, so he brought her ...
Standard : Because Nikita thought Maria was hungry, .....
Colloquial : The problem is so hard
Standard : The problem is very hard


~ The End ~
Taken from Barrons SAT II Writing - Typed by Lan


Last edited by Write Smart Club on Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by nhatquang2403 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:08 am

OH MY GOD! I have used a lot of " a lot of" terms on the TOEFL test. I wish if you could post this topic earlier!

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by Write Smart Club on Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:08 pm

Calm down Quang, I was in the same situation ( by the way, I hope that you haven't taken the TOEFL yet , haven't you ?!! ). The text below was taken from Barrons SAT II Writing [ and I just read those last midnight !!! ] I will try to type every single important ideas for you guys, so don't worry at all

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by HQT on Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:44 pm

"A lot/lots of" is not non-standard, they're just more informal than "many/much" (colloquial). Like "I'm" and "I am", you should never use "I'm" in formal written English, but it's definitely standard :-j

Some other cases are the same as the above (around/about, badly...). Some are grammatical mistakes (like/as, graduate...).

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by emi hamano on Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:52 am

^^ seem like many people made "a lot of" mistake ^^"
I use "a lot of" whenever I want without knowing it's informal. Thanks a lot (<< again ^^")

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by nhatquang2403 on Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:27 am

Lan! I took the real test on Sunday, 3rd August and 2 days later, you posted the topic Crying or Very sad

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Re: List of Diction Errors

Post by Write Smart Club on Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:44 pm

You can take the test again Quang Neutral Anyways, I think you will be fine ^^ Don't worry at all. Just try to focus on SAT and College Essay, I think adcom don't pay much attention on TOEFL score :D

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