Patterns of Errors Check List

I adapted this checklist from Mina Shaughnessy’s book Errors and Expectations. Using this list as a template, I look for patterns of errors under each category: Punctuation, grammar, spelling, and syntax. I typically add categories for essay and narrative writing later in the year.


  • Capitalization
  • End punctuation
  • Commas
    • series
    • participles
    • adverbial clauses
    • adjective clauses
  • Dialogue quotation
  • Academic quotation


  • Subject/verb agreement
  • Basic verb tense (consistency)
  • Irregular verbs
  • Special usage (case with pronouns, agreement in unusual contexts)


  • Basic spelling patterns (doubled consonants, silent e, before e, etc)
  • Key standard/nonstandard variations
  • Demons


  • Sentence completeness
  • Basic word order (including direct and indirect questions)
  • Basic modification (phrases, words, clauses)
  • Advanced sentences (parallel structures, periodic structures, variety)