Common Errors

These are the common errors I notice Japanese students make in their writing. Double-check your writing for these issues.

Adjectival phrases:

Avoid using noun + of + noun. Instead owner + object.

  • Error:  “…window of her room”.  Correct: “…her room window”
  • Error:  “…a best friend of Sam”.   Correct:  “…Sam’s best friend”
  • Error:  “…a disability of Sam”.       Correct:  “…Sam’s disability.”


Only capitalise the first letter of a proper noun; NEVER capitalise the whole noun. To capitalise a whole word means it is a loud voice.

  • Error:  “SONY”.  Correct:  “Sony”
  • Error:  “Different WORLDS”  Correct:  Different Worlds. Italics is used for book titles or to emphasise an important word or phrase.


NEVER start a sentence with “and, but, so, then”. Instead, on of these two options:

  1. Join these together
  2. Use a different conjunction

Example 1. Error:  “The story is about a girl. And she is deaf”  Correct:  “The story is about a girl who is deaf.”

Example 2. Error:  “Incidentally, he was Ron’s friend. His name was Jim. Then she was invited to the party”.  Correct:  “Incidentally, he was Ron’s friend, Jim, so she could be invited to the party.”

  • And > who, whom, whose, which, and
  • But > Though, However, but
  • So > Consequently, so
  • Then > Following this, After that, then


Only use contractions in speech and informal writing. NEVER use “don’t, won’t, isn’t, can’t”, and others in formal writing. Instead, use “do not, will not, is not, cannot” etc.


Throw to/at:  “To” is cooperative, and gentle. “At” is in the direction of, fast, or aggressive.

There usage:

Error:  “There is Jim’s ex-girlfriend…”.  Correct:  “Jim’s ex-girlfriend appeared/was there…”