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The Top 9 Grammar Mistakes in Fifty Shades of Grey – and How to Fix Them

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Though Fifty Shades of Grey topped bestseller lists around the world, E L James‘ erotic romance novel was widely panned by critics for its poor use of language.

The folks over at Grammarly ran the book through their automated proofreader and came up with a list of the top mistakes by frequency. Then, they showed us how to fix them. Because every dirty book needs clean grammar.

1. Punctuation Errors in Complex Sentences
James is not the first author to include a comma in her work when a semi-colon would more appropriate, or vice versa.

Original sentence from Fifty Shades of Grey: “Oh my. My heartbeat picks up again, this feels so… so good.”

Suggested edit: “Oh my. My heartbeat picks up again; this feels so… so good.”

2. Comma Misuse
Many writers forget to include a comma when one is necessary, or include a comma when it is not necessary.

Original: “I open my eyes, and for a moment, I’m tranquil and serene, enjoying the strange unfamiliar surroundings. I have no idea where I am.”

Suggested edit: “I open my eyes, and for a moment, I’m tranquil and serene, enjoying the strange, unfamiliar surroundings. I have no idea where I am.”

3. Wordiness
Actually, this is sort of a really common mistake. Words like “actually,” “sort of,” and “really” add unnecessary length to your writing.

Original: “He’s so passionate, mesmerizing. This is obviously his obsession, the way he is… I can’t take my eyes off him. He really, really wants this. He stops talking and gazes at me.”

Suggested edit: “He’s so passionate, mesmerizing. This is obviously his obsession, the way he is… I can’t take my eyes off him. He really wants this. He stops talking and gazes at me.”

4. Colloquialisms
Although it is largely stylistic, the choice to use informal language – including contractions – can diminish the perception of your writing.

Original: “I open my eyes, and I’m draped in Christian Grey. He’s wrapped around me like a victory flag.”

Suggested edit: “I open my eyes, and I am draped in Christian Grey. He is wrapped around me like a victory flag.”

5. Accidentally Confused Words
Words like “round” and “around” are commonly confused in writing, and may not be discovered by spelling and grammar checkers.

Original: “She doesn’t think to question my explanation, because I am one of the most un-coordinated people in Washington State.”

Suggested edit: “She doesn’t think to question my explanation, because I am one of the most uncoordinated people in Washington State.”

6. Sentence Fragments
Creating a sentence with no subject or no verb is one way to emphasize an idea. However, sentence fragments are technically errors in writing.

Original: “Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Two very different things.”

Suggested edit: “Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Those are two very different things.”

7. Determiners
Words such as “a,” “an,” and “the” help writers to be specific about what they are talking about.

Original: “I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am master of my own destiny and no one castigates me.”

Suggested edit: “I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am the master of my own destiny and no one castigates me.”

8. Prepositions
Prepositions help to show where (or when) one thing is in relation to another. Correctly using prepositions helps readers to better visualize what is happening in your writing.

Original: “Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.”

Suggested edit: “Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, at that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.”

9. Passive voice
Using the passive voice is a stylistic choice in writing – not necessarily a grammar error. However, using the passive voice can cause a lack of clarity in your writing.

Original: “He is totally beguiling, and I’m bewitched. I place my hand in his.”

Suggested edit: “He is totally beguiling, and he has bewitched me. I place my hand in his.”

Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters Feb. 13.