Grammar

By Jenifer Paquette & Joseph M. Moxley Grammatical errors can do more than just make your work appear sloppy: they can even change the meaning of your sentences, thereby confusing your reader. Thus, in the editing stage of the drafting process, it is important to polish your draft for grammatical mistakes and other "local" issues. While the principles discussed in this section are certainly not exhaustive, they address the most common grammatical mistakes found in student writing. Reviewing them in conjunction with other grammar rulebooks will provide you with the...

Read full article...

Pronouns and Antecedents

Pronouns are an important part of speech because you use them frequently. And you should use pronouns because they serve important purposes. However, you need to make sure when you use pronouns, you’re using them effectively. The main purpose of a pronoun is “to replace” a noun. The noun a pronoun replaces is called an antecedent. Pronouns, though, need to be coordinated with their antecedents. If they’re not, confusion quickly emerges for readers. A pronoun is like a backup quarterback. When the starting quarterback is injured, the backup steps in....

Read full article...

Identifying and Addressing Unclear Pronouns & Antecedents

What are pronouns and antecedents? A pronoun is any word that stands in for a previously stated noun, and an antecedent is whatever noun a certain pronoun represents. Using pronouns helps make writing less wordy and repetitive, improving style and expressing the same ideas in fewer words. For example, a piece about “George Washington,” the first president of the United States, does not need to repeat this full name every time it appears, but can instead refer to the antecedent “George Washington” with the pronoun “he”: When George Washington was...

Read full article...

Subject-Pronoun Agreement

As a student embarking on your academic career, most papers that you will be asked to write will be academic papers. These academic papers include clear and direct language with a purpose to communicate to your readers your intended message. Clear and direct language should be used to avoid any confusion. Readers do not want to have to play guessing games with your paper to figure out your main points and arguments, and readers should not have to work hard to figure out what you mean. While much of the...

Read full article...

Grammar

Mechanical issues such as grammatical errors can do more than just make your work appear sloppy: they can even change the meaning of your sentences, thereby confusing your reader. Thus, in the editing stage of the drafting process, it is important to polish your draft for grammatical mistakes and other "local" issues. While the principles discussed in this section are certainly not exhaustive, they address the most common grammatical mistakes found in student writing. Reviewing them in conjunction with other grammar rulebooks will provide you with the necessary tools to...

Read full article...

Subject-Verb Agreement

A single relationship lies at the heart of every sentence in the English language. Like an indivisible nucleus at the center of an atom, the subject-verb pair unifies the sentence. It can be surrounded by any number of modifying words, taking on new shades of meaning, but no matter how many adjectives, adverbs, and independent clauses become attached, the basic unit remains. The subject-verb pair guarantees that the sentence means something. Without this core, a sentence fragments and loses its power to speak. Indeed, a sentence only becomes complete when...

Read full article...

Spelling

Why does correct spelling matter? When a word is misspelled or is mistakenly substituted for a word with a meaning that is inconsistent with the ideas surrounding it, the inaccuracy can create confusion in the mind of the reader. The flow of the passage is temporarily interrupted; frequent spelling and meaning errors can compromise the credibility of the writer. How might you choose a word that is spelled correctly and communicates your meaning accurately? Consult a dictionary: If you are uncertain of the spelling or meaning of a word, consult...

Read full article...

Dangling Modifiers

What is a dangling modifier? A modifier may be considered dangling when the word that is meant to be modified is missing from the sentence. A dangling modifier can weaken or twist the intended meaning of the sentence, thus creating a sense of ambiguity or absurdity. How can a dangling modifier be corrected? Identify the modifier by circling it. Determine who is doing the action in the sentence. Rewrite the sentence to include both the doer and the modifier. Read the sentence aloud to check word flow and clarity of...

Read full article...