Before you submit an assignment or a test paper, it is wise to always check over your work and make corrections. This may be a problem for students who may not really know what exactly they are checking for when it comes to grammar. Having grammar errors are the worst thing that can happen to your work as they pull down your grade drastically.
Writing the best types of essays such as a narrative, expository, persuasive or argumentative means nothing to an examiner if your grammar is incorrect. It shows that you do not understand the parts of speech that make up a sentence when the truth is you probably just forgot a few things along the way. Here are 5 critical grammar checks you should make on assignments.
5 Critical grammar checks to make on assignments
1. Start specific names with a capital letter
Make sure that all proper nouns start with a capital letter. Read through your work and do a grammar check for specific names of persons, places, animals and things. Capitalise the initial letter in:
- a person’s first and last names, John Doe
- each word in a place, New York
- each word in an animal’s name, Fluffy Warrior Hound
- a thing whether it is concrete, Nike sneakers, or abstract, Monday.
2. Add apostrophe -s when it is one owner and -s apostrophe when it is several owners
During your grammar check, ensure that the owners in your work are marked correctly by the apostrophe. When the owner is singular, write -’s and when the owner is plural write -s’.
If the singular word already ends in an -s as in bus, make it plural by adding -es and then add the apostrophe, buses’. However, if the name of the person, place, animal or thing ends in an -s, it means the word is still singular and needs the -’s to be added, Jones’s. Many people drop the final -s, but it is the grammar rule in English.
3. Use I at the end of a sentence only if a verb can follow it
Ending a sentence with I when a verb cannot follow it is a common grammar mistake made by many students. They believe the following sentence sounds right when it is not:
Incorrect sentence: “Mummy gave candy to my brother and I.”
In this sentence, “Mummy” is the subject (doer), “gave” is the verb (action), and the rest of the sentence is the object (receiver). This means a subject comes before a verb and the object comes after the verb.
The pronoun “I” in a sentence is used to replace a subject and “me” replaces an object. In the sentence above, “I” is placed in the position of the object or “receiver” of the action, therefore the object pronoun is “me”.
Correct sentence: “Mummy gave candy to my brother and me.”
A sentence that makes a comparison however can end with “I”. This is because a verb can follow it whether the speaker or writer chooses to use it or not.
Correct sentence: “My brother is taller than I.”
This sentence is correct because it is really saying, “My brother is taller than I am tall.
4. End a verb with -s only if the subject pronoun is a ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘it’
When double checking your grammar, make sure that your subject and verb is in agreement in every sentence that you write. This means that only when the subject pronoun is a “he”, “she”, or “it”, the verb must end with an -s.
The Verb To Be is a topic in grammar that you would have covered when you were around 7 or 8 years old so it is possible for you to be a bit rusty with the rules if you did not practise it. Here is a refresher on this topic for you to never forget to make your subject agree with your verb. Look at the pattern of the verb carrying an -s after the pronouns “he”, “she” and “it”:
Subject Verb Agreement
I am… You are… He is… She is… It is… We are… You are… They are
I go… You go… He goes… She goes… It goes… We go… You go… They go
I have… You have… He has… She has… It has… We have… You have… They have
Now, apply this in sentences with nouns that must be replaced with pronouns in your head when you are about to write the verb. Here are two examples:
“Barry and Mel have mangoes in a box.”
The pronoun for Barry and Mel is “They” so the verb does not end in an -s.
“Mike runs quickly on his way home.”
The pronoun for Mike is “he” so the verb ends in an -s.
5. Know your homophones
Double check your use of words that have the same sound and different spelling. Mixing up homophones can affect your grade in grammar badly. Here are some commonly mistaken homophones and differences for you to learn:
There, their and they’re
Confusing the homophones “there”, “their”, and “they’re” is a very popular mistake made by students. Here are the differences to learn:
- “there” is the pronoun for place
- “their” is the pronoun for people
- “they’re” is the abbreviation for “they are” which is the pronoun “they” and the verb “are”
Your and you’re
It is common for students to write “your” when they really mean to say “you’re”. Here are the differences for you to learn:
- “your” is the possessive pronoun as in, “This is your pencil”
- “you’re” is the abbreviation for “you are” which is the pronoun “you” and verb “are”
To, too and two
The word “too” seems to be very problematic for many students as it is confused with “to” and “two”.
Here are the differences for you to learn:
- “to” is a preposition that expresses motion
- “too” is an adverb that modifies a word meaning “very” and “also”
- “two” is an adjective that describes amount of something
Check out more homophones here and get them all right to improve your grammar skills.
These 5 common grammatical errors can be corrected once you do your grammar check properly. Remember to read your work over and over until you have corrected every mistake. Practise doing your grammar check from now so you would learn the parts of speech and improve your grades in your essays.