1.2 GETTING STARTED: Using Correction Codes

Before you begin writing, it’s useful to establish some basic ways to communicate with your instructor about your work. Many instructors use special correction codes, such as those listed the table below, to provide you with quick and efficient feedback about errors in your writing. For example, you may see a comment from your instructor that says “S-V”. If you look at the chart, you will see that “S-V” means “subject-verb agreement” error. The table below also gives you a short explanation of the error. Print or download this table. Use it to answer the questions in the exercise that follows. Then save the table to interpret feedback from your instructor about the essays that you write later in this course. If you have questions, be sure to ask now.


Code Type of Mistake Explanation
s-v subject-verb agreement Do your subject and verb agree? In present simple tense make sure you use the third person -s for singular subjects.
vt verb tense You used the wrong verb tense. Check whether you should be using the past, present, or future here. Then decide if you need the simple, continuous, or perfect form. Do your time phrases agree?
# singular or plural You need to change the noun to either a singular or plural form. Is the noun countable or uncountable? Are you writing something in general? Check for words like “many” or a number or “one of …”
pro pronoun You used the wrong pronoun, or you shouldn’t be using a pronoun here. Avoid you, we, and I in academic writing (use the third person).
wf word form The word is right, but you need to change it to the verb, noun, adjective, or adverb form of the word.
vf verb form Some verbs are followed by gerunds (-ing), or by an infinitive form of the verb (to + verb). Remember that after a preposition, you must use a gerund.
art article You are missing a, an, or the— or you are using the article incorrectly.
prep preposition This word needs a preposition. Look for an example sentence in a dictionary.
ww wrong word The word doesn’t make sense here. Choose a different word.
wc word choice The word is not the best word, or it is not the most natural word to use. Be specific. Be academic.
wo word order The words are in the wrong order.
c/s comma splice You have separated two sentences with a comma.
pass passive voice Either you should be using passive voice here, or the passive form you used has an error.
frag fragment Your sentence might be missing a subject or a verb—or the sentence is not a complete idea.
p punctuation Add punctuation, or you have used the wrong punctuation.
t transition You need a transition word or phrase here to help guide the reader.
? huh? I can’t understand what you are trying to say here. Please revise.
sp spelling You’ve spelled the word incorrectly. Please check a dictionary.


1. If you see an correction code with just a question mark (?), what should you do?

  1. Rewrite the sentence another way.
  2. Ask the teacher a question.
  3. Change the sentence into a question.

2. What does the code “ART” mean?

  1. You have a mistake involving a, an, the or zero article.
  2. Your writing is too artsy.
  3. You should refer to the American Rhetoric Text for help.

3. Which sentence is an example of an S-V error?

  1. The child eat candy every day.
  2. The dog ran in the park.
  3. The man works at a bank.

4. What error code might you give the following sentence? The water flowed quickerly over the river banks and flooded the town.

  1. VT
  2. Prep
  3. WF

5. What does the code “SP” mean?

  1. Be specific.
  2. Check spelling.
  3. It’s special.

6. Identify the error in this sentence:   So many students study English classes at Portland Community College are not always easy.

  1. It is a comma splice. A coordinating conjunction should be added to separate the independent clauses.
  2. It is a fragment. It is not a complete sentence.
  3. It is a run-on sentence. Punctuation should be added to separate the independent clauses.
  4. There is no error in the sentence.

7. What does the code “PRO” mean?

  1. professional
  2. pronoun
  3. process

8.  Which error code would apply to the following sentence: You can do tonight, the homework?

  1. WO
  2. C/S
  3. P
  4. SV

9. What does the code “C/S” mean?

  1. Good point; the teacher can see what you mean.
  2. You should add a comma to your sentence.
  3. Your sentence has a comma splice.

10.  The following sentence has a FRAG error: Many students happy about spring in Portland.  What does FRAG mean?

  1. FRAG stands for fully recognized and graded; this means that the sentence is understandable, but not perfect, so it will receive a lower grade.
  2. FRAG means fragment, or only a part of something, not the whole thing. So this is not a complete sentence. It is missing either a subject or a verb, or it does not express a complete idea.
  3. FRAG means “fragile”. In other words, this sentence has a good idea, but it is not written well. It needs to be stronger.



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