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Austin's Editing Marks

This is a guide to the symbols I use when marking up your writing assignments. Each symbol stands for a particular kind of error. By marking the types of errors you're making, my aim is to help you identify the areas on which you need to focus to improve the accuracy of your written English.

Important: When I mark up your assignments, I will not necessarily mark every single error you make. Instead, I will mark those errors that seem to occur most frequently in your writing, or those that cause the greatest difficulties for the reader.

When looking over my feedback on your writing, look for patterns. Which symbols do you see most often on your writing? Make sure you understand that particular category of error (ask me if you're unclear!) and in your future writing, focus on that specific issue.

Note: This guide is a work in progress. As I gather more examples I will add them to this guide, and add more detailed descriptions as well. If you want know more about a type of error I haven't documented very extensively, please ask me!

Standard editing marks

These are marks and symbols that are widely used in the English-speaking world when editing documents. I use them when marking up your papers, and you may well see other teachers using them as well.

Austin's special editing marks

These are symbols and abbreviations that I've invented. You won't necessarily see other people using these marks.

pp (preposition pairing)


This means the preposition you've used here isn't the right one for the noun.

Just like in Chinese, certain words in English always "go with" certain prepositions. Consider the following the phrase:


Just looking at this phrase, you know immediately that this is wrong, right? It's not 在这种情况上; it's 在这种情况下!

How do you know this? You just know. You can't explain it. It's just that certain words "pair" with certain prepositions and not with others -- you have to memorize every instance independently, or else look up it up in a dictionary or online if you're in doubt. (In English, of course, we don't say "under this situation," we say "in this situation.")

Sometimes, the same word can mean very different things if paired with different prepositions! Take the verb "to care," for example:

  • to care for = 照顾, as in "parents care for their children" 父母照顾孩子
  • to care about = 在乎, as in "I don't care about that test" 我不在乎那个考试

So remember: When you learn a word, learn what prepositions the word "pairs" with -- this is a crucial part of a word's usage.


(hover your cursor over the sentences for the corrections)

made up  of

made up of

strong arguments  for     OR     strong arguments  about

strong arguments for   OR    strong arguments about

apply the biological diversity theory directly  to  the argument

apply the biological diversity theory directly to the argument

throughout  the whole country

throughout the whole country

research  into      OR     research  on      OR    research  about

research into    OR    research on    OR   research about

in  1945

in 1945

ability  to  use

ability to use

Austin Woerner