Many years have passed from your school times but the ability to write grammatically is still required almost in every professional field, especially if you are a student that has ambitious designs on a brilliant future in this world. Writing essays and course or research papers cannot be imaged without a clear text layout observed through its structure and, of course, grammar and punctuation. You must admit that it is rather hard to perceive seriously a professor or any other person with a degree that even cannot express grammatically its ideas to the audience. That is why we decided to bring to the attention of you the most commonly committed grammatical mistakes and how to avoid them knowing grammatical rules.
Use of Semicolons
The presence of semicolons in the sentence is determined in accordance to the connection between two independent clauses. These clauses could complement each other in regard of the whole sentence meaning. Note, these two clauses can be used as two separate sentences, but due to even slight connection you can put a semicolon between them. If there is coordinating conjunction between these two parts of the sentence, you have to put comma or just omit the use of semicolons.
Run-on Sentence or Comma Splice
The sentence that contains two or more clauses, or how it is also called “fused sentence,” consists of at least two independent parts without appropriate conjunction or punctuation. But when two parts of a sentence are just connected with comma, it can result into a new grammatical mistake, a comma splice. When you want to connect two independent parts of the sentence, you have to use some kind of conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so).
There are some measures that can be undertaken to improve the situation where you have a run-on sentence or comma splice:
- You can have the clauses separated into two sentences;
- Semi-colon can be used to replace the comma;
- The comma can be substituted with the help of:
- - but;
- - for;
- - yet;
- - nor;
- - so.
- - After;
- - although;
- - before;
- - unless;
- - as;
- - because;
- - even though;
- - if, since;
- - until;
- - when;
- - while.
- Transitional words can also assist you:
- - However;
- - moreover;
- - nevertheless;
- - instead;
- - also;
- - therefore;
- - consequently;
- - otherwise.
The pronoun errors can appear when there is no agreement between the noun to which the pronoun refers and the pronoun itself. It is quite simple and logical rule which is not difficult to remember. If you use a singular form, then write he/she, his/her; if plural, then – we/they, their/our. However, almost all people from time to time are confused with the writing of such words as everybody, anybody, each, either, none (they have to be singular) and both, few, many, several (must be plural). All, any, most, and some depend on the situation (they can be both singular or plural).
Everybody has to answer for his or her own words. – OK;
Everybody has to answer for their words. – IS OK TOO (Note: Some people see this as incorrect, but it is very common, especially in informal English).
Although today we can observe the sexist wave and colossal desire to treat every gender equally, it does not have to contradict to grammatical rules.
Apostrophe Usage Mistake
The possessive case is created with the help of apostrophe. Yet, there is no need to use it when the possession is already shown with the possessive pronouns:
My, mine, our, ours, his, hers, its, their, or theirs
His’ friend aggression was groundless. – NOT OK;
His friend’s aggression was groundless. – OK.
One more moment to discuss is the difference between it’s and its. Its is a possessive pronoun, when it’s is a contraction of it is. Some people are confused due to the apostrophe in it’s, but the main thing is to understand the meaning of these two forms and how they are applied in the sentence.
If you want the reader or audience to understand you, pay attention to the placement of modifier in sentences. It must precede the phrase or word it modifies. The function of modifier is to refer precisely to a certain word in a sentence.
He nearly drove the car for six hours a day. – NOT OK;
He drove the car for nearly six hours a day. – OK.
As you can see from the above example the replacement of every word in a sentence is crucial for a general understanding of the sentence, which meaning can be dramatically changed in case of abusage.
This type of mistake is rather widespread. Let us take a look at this sentence:
Let’s make this task faster and better.
The problem is that “faster and better” than what/who? If you use the comparative forms of adjective, please, do not hesitate to identify who or what you compare to. Otherwise, your sentence will sound incomplete.
What you have to check during the process of writing is how your subject (e.g., noun, pronoun) in the sentence corresponds to the predicate (verb) regarding number (singular/plural) and person (first, second, or third).
- When you have two subjects joined by “with,” then the verb will be plural;
- When you have two subjects joined by “nor,” “or,” the verb will correspond to the last subject;
- When your subject and verb are separated with different words, you can easily forget what you have to put as a subject. That is why, after each written sentence, read it one more time, find your subject and predicate, and check whether they correspond to each other or not.
- Be careful with foreign words and those of Latin/Greek origin. Their plural forms have specific means of formation. (e.g., a thesis – singular, the theses – plural; an ox – singular – the oxen – plural).
As you can see, grammar is quite diverse subject of discussion. It is impossible to cover all possible grammatical errors, common among people. However, I hope that at least this list will help you in writing of your academic papers or just next e-mail to your friend making it sound clearly and grammatically correct.