I was lately reviewing a book and had to tell about the errors. It was on C++, so I had to differentiate between the kinds of errors so that people don't get terrified like "OMG 50 errors? Bad book."

So suppose there were 50 errors, but 40 of them were grammatical, no big deal. Only 5 were related to the actual programming and syntax. And 5 were spelling errors. But the book also had errors like this:

First the base class constructor is used to create objects and then the derived class one While the destructor works in reverse direction.

See, no full stop. So I thought it will be also an error, a "punctuational" error. That made me think about how many types of errors there are?

Except style-related errors and other miscellaneous, highly-specific, or non-standard errors.

closed as primarily opinion-based by TimLymington, Edwin Ashworth, phenry, Drew, 200_success Feb 11 '15 at 9:42

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  • 1
    The main defect I detected is that "While the destructor works in reverse direction" is only a sentence fragment: it is a dependent clause lacking a main clause. (But this could easily be fixed simply by changing 'while' to 'meanwhile'.) Not having any knowledge of C++, I am taking it on trust that "First the base class constructor is used to create objects and then the derived class one" actually makes sense. – Erik Kowal Dec 25 '14 at 7:30
  • The uppercase W in While is the error, not a missing period. "... objects and then the derived class one while the destructor works ...." In any case, I serious doubt if any one has counted and documented the exact number of "possible error classes" in English. – Kris Dec 25 '14 at 8:16
  • Why are 40 grammatical errors "no big deal," but an improperly capitalized "While" merits special attention? In any case, I'm not sure there's a definitive answer to this; it all depends on how the error taxonomy is constructed. – J.R. Dec 25 '14 at 8:47
  • First, it's not a capitalized W. I've read the book in context, and trust me, just a full stop is missing. And I'm not saying that 40 grammatical errors are not a big deal but a missing full stop is drawing my attention. I thought that this must be called a punctuational error, so I wondered how many errors there are. – Rose Winters Dec 25 '14 at 14:08

English teachers typically assign a portion of their grade for a piece of written work to a category that covers language correctness. This category is sometimes sub-divided into separate scores for grammar and mechanics.

Grammar includes syntax and morphology, and mechanics includes punctuation, spelling and capitalisation. As well as these two, there is the more nebulous category of usage, which includes word choice.

The authors of The nature of error in adolescent student writing (pdf) list over 40 specific mistakes that fall into one or other of the categories stated above.

The errors in the passage are capitalisation (While should be while), and punctuation (a comma is needed to set off the while clause). It should be noted, however, that inner-sentence punctuation is in most cases a matter of stylistic choice, rather than correctness. And some writers may not feel the need for the comma here.

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