10 types of errors writers make when trying to fix copy

Hypercorrection: It’s the verbal equivalent of the cure being worse than the disease.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Here’s a list of some categories of hypercorrection:

1. “A number of” followed by a singular verb

Occasionally, a superficial understanding of what constitutes proper grammar leads writers to create a disagreeable subject/verb agreement such as, “A number of members is supporting reform.” But longstanding idiom trumps strict correctness: “A number of members are supporting reform” is correct, because the focus is on the members, not on the proportion of them supporting reform. The same commonsense rule holds for handful, majority, and similar terms.

2. As in place of like

Writers averse to like as an alternative to “such as” are also prone to replace like with as in such sentences as “He charges as a bull.” “He charges as a bull would do” is correct but stilted; the shorter form implies, “He charges in the capacity of a bull,” rather than, “He charges in the manner of a bull.” What’s not to like about like?

3. Double adverbs

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.