English scientific writing tip of the day

I work in a laboratory of about twenty people, and one of the few who was born in the United States (most of my colleagues are Polish, along with a few Russians and Chinese). Consequently, I read many scientific grants, manuscripts, and other documents written in English by people who speak it as a second language.

Recently, I began writing tips on the whiteboard in the lab correcting common mistakes made by ESL speakers, and it proved so popular that my colleagues asked me to put them online so that they might be able to use them as a reference. So this is where I will be putting these tips. I am a scientist—specifically, a structural biologist—and so is my audience, so some of the tips, such as today’s, may not be so applicable to a general audience. As well, many of the tips may reflect common errors made by Eastern Europeans, as these are the errors I most commonly see.

I hope that you find this useful, and I appreciate any feedback!