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Grammar Tips From The English Department

PSSAs, Keystones, the BIG spring field trips, just a few weeks left of school and summertime around the corner—with all of these distractions during the fourth quarter, it is easy to forget all of the school work that is left! Many of these assignments include short-answer questions, five-paragraph essays, and for some students, research papers. These may seem like daunting tasks, but have no fear! The English Department has developed a list of tips, tricks, and reminders for all of your writing worries. Check it out!


Grammar Reminders:

  1. Homonyms. One of the most common homonym mistakes we see are “their” vs. “there” vs. “they’re.” Make sure you are paying attention to what form you are using.
  2. It’s and Its. This apostrophe is no joke! The form “it’s” means it is, while “its” is the possessive form of the word.
  3. Sentence structure. Make sure each sentence has a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. Keep an eye out for comma splices and run-ons, too!
  4. “I” vs. “me.”  There is a great trick to remember when to use “I” and when to use “me”;  Take out the other part of the subject, and see if the sentence still makes sense.
  5. Consistent tense. If you start writing in past tense, make sure that you maintain the past tense. Avoid switching between tenses.
  6. Active voice. Be sure that you are always using active voice. For example:

Active- The teacher gave the student an A.

Passive- The student was given an A from the teacher.


Editing Tips:

  1. Wait a day. Give yourself a day between finishing a paper and editing it. This allows you to look at the paper with fresh eyes and catch mistakes.
  2. Read it aloud. There might be missing or extra words hidden in your sentences. Reading your paper aloud will allow you to hear any awkward sentence structures and phrases.
  3. Read it backwards. This will help you to catch any small errors because it makes you really look at each word individually.
  4. Watch your contractions! Especially for students that are completing research papers or formal papers, you want to avoid using contractions.
  5. Avoid the phrase “I think.” When you are writing a persuasive or opinion piece, it is unnecessary to say “I think” or “I believe.” Because you are writing the piece, the author can assume that it is your opinion.
  6. Pay close attention to tone. You wouldn’t want to write a research paper in the same way that you text your friends. Make sure you are using the proper tone!


Hopefully this list helps you in all of your writing endeavors this quarter! Best of luck!