No matter whether you major in English literature, physics, or marketing, one thing is apparent – you are going to write a lot. You might be working on the essay, a scientific paper or a research project but it doesn’t change the crucial importance of knowing and applying English grammar rules.
Even in number-driven scientific fields like math or engineering, your academic and professional success still massively depends on your ability to put words together. Preferably if these words are written the right way. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of exceptions and memorize-only rules – the punctuation and spelling can be logical. Also, you can try essay checker at Robotdon to prevent yourself from grammar errors.
To make that even easier, we collected 11 basic grammar rules that will boost your writing skills and academic performance. Save and print them, and just apply to practice.
№1 – Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s
Yes, even after the letter s in the noun. Follow the examples below:
This was written in Francis’s diary.
The last Faith’s hope was taken away that day.
You might have heard that after using a noun that ends with s, we put an apostrophe, with no letters after. Now, however, in most cases of academic writing, this is not the case at all. A letter s at the end of the possessive form simplifies comprehension, and therefore, should be used with no exceptions.
№2 – Do not break one sentence in two
To avoid writing long, complicated sentences, authors often jump to another extreme, starting breaking phrases, tearing up the logical connections. Take a look at the following examples:
The wrong way: PepsiCo also donates art supplies to public schools. The company has endowed a $100,000 annual fund for the Brooklyn Museum to purchase new works.
The right way: PepsiCo also donates art supplies to public schools and has endowed a $100,000 annual fund for the Brooklyn Museum to purchase new works.
If you want to tight two logically connected thoughts, use commas for that. While using periods and making sentences shorter certainly simplifies comprehension, it also breaks the rhythm of the phrase. Therefore, for connected thoughts, use commas.
№3 – To define the number of the verb, identify the number of the subject
This rule is really simple to follow in short sentences – we know how to do it from early years.
The cat runs in the garden. The cats run in the garden.
However, there are also more complex cases where it’s easier to get lost. A common roadblock is the wrong choice of the verb form in a relative clause ‘one of many.’ Take a look at the example of often-made mistakes, and you’ll see that you made one or two yourself.
Only one of many students understand the task.
You take a look at the plural noun ‘students’ and mistakenly put the plural form of the verb. However, if you first identified the subject of the sentence, you’d know that it’s not the plural noun ‘students’ but ‘one.’ Therefore, the singular form is the right one here.
The example of the right from usage: None of us is perfect. Many of us are wrong.
№4 – The use of a participial phrase with a wrong noun
This principle sounds somewhat complicated, but in truth, it’s straightforward. Consider the sentence:
Walking in the forest, my hat flew away.
In this sentence, the participial phrase concerns a person who walks the forest, not the hat. Judging from the structure of the phrase, however, it’s difficult to make sense of what’s written.
That’s why, for correct understanding, a writer should rebuild a sentence and introduce a subject in a clear way.
Walking in the forest, I saw that my hat flew away.
Let’s practice with other examples:
Doing my homework, the laptop shut down. – When I was doing my homework, the laptop shut down.
Young and happy, the day seemed amazing to me. – Young and happy, I couldn’t help but notice that the day is amazing.
№5 – Prefer active voice to passive forms
Simply put, instead of saying ‘The task is done by me,’ go with a more understandable option: ‘I did the task.’
Even though the passive voice tends to seem more poetic, it is also easy to misinterpret. Active voice, with its concise structure, provides written clarity which stands behind any correct grammar usage.
Instead of: The research, performed by Harvard professor, isn’t clear,
Do: Harvard professor performed unclear research.
№6 – Avoid using ‘not.’
The example is actually the name of the rule itself. Instead of saying a vague ‘do not use ‘not,’ I preferred the concise and declarative verb ‘Avoid.’ The logic of this rule is easy-to-explain: positive forms with negative meaning convey a much stronger message then a small adverb ‘not.’
You might remember a popular saying that the Universe doesn’t hear the adverb ‘not.’ Well, neither do people. That’s why, whenever writing, mind the following examples:
do not remember – forget
not great – mediocre
not often – rarely
№7 – Do not spell out the dates
How much would you understand from a phrase: ‘In ninety ninety-nine the new album came out’? Instead of just scanning a number, as you would usually do, you had to pay attention and decipher the meaning, hidden by a lot of letters.
Hence, follow the following examples:
June 11, 1790
However, it’s worth noticing that different editorials have various ideas on this account. Some could ask you to spell out statistics and centuries so better find out the specific requirements of your professor, editor, or client.
№8 – Don’t confuse words that sound close or identically
Pay attention to the context to understand which word you need. Also, be aware of phrases or constructions that could be easily confused. Here are just a few most common examples:
alternate – alternative
It’s – its
These – this
№9 – Avoid using the word ‘very
The goal of any writing is to transmit a clear message to the reader or listener. The more specific you are in the choice of words, the stronger your writing will be. The word ‘very,’ however, achieves just the opposite effect. The measure of ‘very’ is different for every person and doesn’t get any real emotional response.
№10 – Omit unnecessary words
To do that, revise every text you wrote. In the beginning, all words seem important but during revisions the clarity comes. To make the most out of it, give your mind some time to refocus and move on to another assignment. After at least an hour passed, read what you’ve written again.
№11 – The simpler, the better
All authors strive to make their writing smart and complex. We want layers of context and emotions so go to synonyms and complicated grammatical structures. The ambition to write intelligently is healthy, and it drives you to the next level, but if you are not sure, it’s okay to go with the simpler option.
How to use these grammar tips?
One advice: write and revise. Save these grammar rules and run by them every new piece. Don’t learn them by heart like poetry or formulas but do edits as you go. Grammar is learned by doing, not by pointless memorizing.
The more you write, revise, and revise again, the better writer you’ll be. Go ahead and start.