4 Grammar Rules To Utilize In Your Next Big Writing Project

    Whether you’re working on a class assignment, senior thesis, business report, or the next great American novel, your grammar needs to be faultless. Anything less does not accurately highlight your own intelligence and lessens every point you make.

    That’s why for your next big project, you should utilize these 4 grammar rules!


    1) Proper Punctuation (particularly commas)

    Punctuation plays an important part in literacy and in the writing process. Without it, the meaning of your sentences can get lost or confused.

    Commas in particular are where the most people blunder in their writing. Here are a few examples of common comma errors:

    • Comma Splice – A comma splice is a sentence with a comma and no conjunction to break up independent clauses. For example, the sentence, “I liked the book, it was informative,” should look like this, “I liked the book, and it was informative,” because two independent clauses need a comma and a coordinating conjunction.
    • Introductory Clause – An introductory clause that is not necessary for a sentence to make sense should be offset by a comma. For example: Because it was late, her parents tucked her into bed.
    • Coordinate Adjectives – Coordinate adjectives are adjectives that work well in groups and work to modify the same noun. They are usually separated by using the conjunction “and” or a comma. For example, “He’s a happy, lively, and well-behaved kitten,” is the correct way to modify the noun in this case because the adjectives do not contradict each other and are separated by commas. Removing the last comma is still an acceptable way to write this sentence, but we suggest using the Oxford comma when making lists of three or longer.
    • Names of Direct of Address – Remember that when you’re addressing someone that you need to place a comma after their name. For example, when greeting your mother, you would write out: Hey, Mom, how are you doing?”


    2) Subject-Verb Agreement

    All subjects and verbs must agree numerically -- that is, a singular subject must be met with a singular verb, and the same goes for plurals.

    Here are a few examples of sentences where there is a clause between the subject and the verb (the subject is bolded, and the verb is underlined):

    • The causes of this prevalent disease are bad diet and lack of exercise.
    • The couch and chair I got at the store look really nice in here.
    • The members of the choir are very happy with the performance.


    3) Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

    Replacing "Mike" with "he" in a sentence is replacing the antecedent with a pronoun. This can get a bit tricky if the pronoun and antecedent you use don’t end up agreeing. Similar to the subject-verb agreement, the pronoun and antecedent need to agree numerically.

    For example, this sentence has a pronoun-antecedent disagreement and doesn't make sense because the person "she" refers to is unclear: “Mary and Courtney went to Burger King because she was hungry.” Because the subject (Mary and Courtney) is a plural antecedent, the pronoun should be plural, and so should the second verb: "Mary and Courtney went to Burger King because they were hungry."  If only Courtney was hungry, then it would be best to use "because Courtney was hungry" to avoid confusion.  After all, maybe Mary was the only one of the pair who was hungry for Burger King!

    4) Homophones

    Homophones are words that sound similar but are spelled differently and have different meanings. For example, affect/effect, compliment/complement, and their/there/they're are all common homophones that people get confused. Take note of these and always double check definitions to avoid using homophones incorrectly!


    Still a little lost when it comes to grammar? Working with a tutor is a great way to learn how to properly implement these grammar rules. Let one of our writing tutors help!

    WriteAhead is an online tutoring service offering personalized digital feedback in conjunction with the real time assistance of an online writing tutor. Our writing tutors are specialists in helping writers achieve their goals through powerful writing suited to the requirements of the writing project. WriteAhead is a tutoring service passionate about writing well. To learn more and schedule a free consultation visit, www.writeahead.com.

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