GRANT CAMPUS WRITING STUDIO PRESENTS: SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF GRAMMAR Does my professor really hate my writing?
Goals of the Grammar Workshop To show you how to identify and correct six major grammatical errors. To highlight the effects the errors have on readers. To reinforce that by careful proofreading, you can avoid most of these unforgiving grammatical sins before your professor or employer finds them! To introduce you to resources that can help you to improve your ability to avoid these DEADLY SINS!
Subjects and verbs: Can’t they just get along? In a sentence, subjects and verbs must agree in number (singular or plural). SUBJECT: What or who the sentence is about. VERB: Always about action (run, stab, stagger) or being (all the forms of the verb “to be:” am, is, are, was, were, has been, have been, had been). AGREEMENT: The singular or plural forms of the subject and verb must agree. “My dog run down the street.” INCORRECT Beware of tricky agreement caused by words that sound plural but are singular (everyone, nobody) and either/or neither/nor constructions.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT AGREEMENT ERRORS Find verbs first and ask if they’re singular or plural. Ask who/what is acting on the verb: the answer to that question is the subject. See if subject and verb agree. Come to the Writing Studio in Nesconset 19 and work with an expert. Call 851-6245 for an appointment. Go to chompchomp.com for exercises.
Is that a sentence? Run-ons: spliced and fused. A COMMA SPLICE occurs when writers join two independent clauses with a comma only. Example: My brother is nice, my sister is not. [SPLICE] A FUSED SENTENCE, also known as a RUN-ON, occurs when writers join two or more independent clauses together in any other way than splicing. Example: My brother is nice my sister is not. [FUSED]
Is that a sentence? Fragments A FRAGMENT occurs when writers fail to create complete sentences. With few exceptions, a sentence must have a subject and verb and express a complete thought. In other words, sentences should have at least one independent clause. Examples: Fragment: Texted while driving his new Lamborghini. Add a subject : Father William texted while driving his new Lamborghini. Fragment: Father William and his new Lamborghini. Add a verb: Father William and his new Lamborghini created a stir.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT SPLICES & RUN-ONS/FUSED SENTENCES Read the sentence. Ask if there needs to be a period/long pause. Use a period where the two sentences meet. Check commas followed by pronouns (, they or, he): these constructions tend to create splices. Combine the two sentences with comma + FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). When dealing with VERY CLOSELY RELATED ideas, use a semicolon. Come to the Writing Studio in Nesconset 19 and work with an expert. Call 851-6245 for an appointment.
Is that a sentence? Fragments In the examples below, which fragments would you most likely write? a. Arthur missed an easy surprise quiz. Because he skipped class. b. Arthur missed an easy surprise quiz because. He skipped class. c. Tyler ended up cleaning up his room. Which he doesn’t like. d. Tyler ended up cleaning up his room which he. Doesn’t like. If you chose, “a” and “c,” then you understand something about clausal boundaries and syntactic integrity, but you don’t know that you know it. Source: http://www.amybenjamin.com/recent-presentations
Is that a sentence? Fragments Below are fragments that have syntactic integrity. They are clauses or phrases that need to be combined with another sentence for a complete thought. Add a subject and verb from another sentence to complete. Which he doesn’t like.(adjective clause) Into an ambush.(prepositional phrase) Because he skipped class.(subordinate clause) That the train wasn’t going to Chicago.(noun clause) Tyler ended up cleaning up his room, which he doesn’t like. My paintball team walked right into an ambush. Arthur missed an easy surprise quiz because he skipped class. He knew that the train wasn’t going to Chicago. As soon it left the station.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT FRAGMENTS Ask yourself if the sentence needs a verb to be complete. Then add one. Ask yourself if the sentence needs a subject to be complete. Then add one. Combine the fragment with a neighboring sentence. Scrutinize those sentences that have because, which, especially, that, and words that end –ing (driving, speeding) since they tend to create fragments (see above on syntactical integrity) even though they may be in sentences that have subjects and verbs. Come to the Writing Studio in Nesconset 19 and work with an expert. Call 851-6245 for an appointment. Do the exercises at chompchomp.com
Usage confusion: then/than; its/it’s; there/their/they’re/there’re, and more. If I am older than you, Billy told Bobby, then I was born first. It’s not like I stole the donut: I only paid a nickel less than its price because I miscounted the change I gave the cashier! There’re bears right there, and they're hungry and we're going to be their lunch if we don't get away really FAST!!!! You’re telling me that your spelling is perfect?! The two of you worry too much to go to the store alone. Whether or not we go to the outdoor concert depends on the weather. I accept responsibility for all the mess except for the bathroom. Source: http://www.educationbug.org/c/easily-confused-words.html
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT USAGE ERRORS Use a dictionary, especially when you have doubts about usage. Study lists of easily confused words. Come to the Writing Studio in Nesconset 19 and work with an expert. Call 851-6245 for an appointment. Use chompchomp.com
Making sense of tense: Don’t tense up about time! Tense refers to the “time” of a verb’s action or being. Tenses tell us when an action takes place, took place, or will take place. In English, verbs may be in one of the following six tenses: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. Two common uses of tense are present and past. Present Tense: I drive to campus. Past Tense: I drove to campus yesterday. Generally, writers should avoid a shift of tense in sentences, paragraphs, and essays. For example: I drove to campus yesterday and go to the bookstore. This sentence is incorrect because it uses a past tense and a present tense. Source: Gansrow, J. (2013). Core Principles of Grammar and Style: A Workbook for the Developing Writer
Making sense of tense: Don’t tense up about time! Future Tense: Actions or conditions occurring in the future. Example: I will drive to campus tomorrow. Present Perfect: Actions or conditions started in the past and continuing to the present; repeated past actions. Example: I have driven to campus many times in the past. Past Perfect: Past actions or conditions that start or finish before some later past action starts. Example: I had driven to campus before I realized that I forgot my book. Future Perfect: Future actions or conditions that start or end before some later future action starts. Example: I will have driven fifty miles before I run out of gas. Source: Gansrow, J. (2013). Core Principles of Grammar and Style: A Workbook for the Developing Writer
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT TENSE ERRORS Look at verbs and adverbs (yesterday, often) within the sentence and in neighboring sentences: make sure verbs are in the same tense. Learn the forms of the tenses. Study tense formation of irregular verbs (verb to be, begin, swim, etc.) Come to the Writing Studio in Nesconset 19 and work with an expert. Call 851-6245 for an appointment. Use chompchomp.com
Hazy and fuzzy pronouns: Why can’t they just be clear? When you revise, make sure your pronouns agree in number (singular/plural) with their antecedents (the words they refer to). Example: A person should try to do their best. AGREEMENT ERROR. Note how the pronoun (their) and its antecedent (a person) don’t agree in number. their = plural; a person = singular. In order to fix the error, revise the pronoun or its antecedent. Source: Gansrow, J. (2013). Core Principles of Grammar and Style: A Workbook for the Developing Writer
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT PRONOUN ERRORS Try to avoid beginning or ending a sentence with a pronoun. If you can’t, try to include the pronoun + the word it refers to. Example: This is not as clear as This person, This idea, This belief. Look at pronouns for shifting. Check pronouns for case and ask whether I/me is correct by deleting the other person & placing pronouns next to verbs they act on.
Punctuation, punctuation: Little marks that have a BIG influence. “Punctuation helps writers to separate information for readers, shows readers how to read at the right pace, and even guides readers to emulate the correct tone. You should be able to identify some key marks of punctuation and understand how to interpret them” (Gansrow 79) The period (.) and the question mark (?) are common closing punctuation marks found at the end of sentences, but what of other punctuation marks, such as: The comma (,) Example: The boys ran, and the girls walked quietly, carefully, and slowly, but with purpose. The apostrophe (’) Example: The boys’ books were left in the Andy’s room. The semi-colon (;) Example: We love school; we enjoy learning. Source: Gansrow, J. (2013). Core Principles of Grammar and Style: A Workbook for the Developing Writer
Punctuation, punctuation: Little marks that have a BIG influence. The colon (:) The colon has three purposes: introduces a list; precedes an explanation or example; or introduces a quotation. There are three reasons I won’t marry you: you’re cruel, unforgiving, and a little ugly. Professor Jones can be frustrating: he doesn’t respond to emails or return papers in a timely fashion. In 1987, President Reagan said the following: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Parentheses ( ) are for inside jokes, citations, and de-emphasis. Do NOT put important ideas here. Source: Gansrow, J. (2013). Core Principles of Grammar and Style: A Workbook for the Developing Writer
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CORRECT PUNCTUATION ERRORS Learn the functions of the common types of punctuation. In general, a period is correct. Apostrophes: is the word plural or possessive or both? Possession formed by adding ‘ + s. With plural possessives, leave off the second s for savings! Use chompchomp.com
THE DEADLIEST SIN: PROOFREADING HUBRIS! Don’t read your writing with the assumption that it’s basically perfect…You could die! No, you won’t die, but instead of reading your writing with the assumption that it’s fine, choose a different course of action: print your paper, get a pencil or pen, and read your writing carefully with the assumption that there are probably quite a few ways to improve the paper before you submit it. “Proofreading (sentence level revision) is a slow reading process where you closely read over what you have to identify and revise issues. These errors might include such things as punctuation, grammar, capitalization, verb tense, word choice, usage, formatting and other errors you make at the sentence level” (Boecherer, Gatti, Leo). Visit the VLC at Suffolk Online (MYSCCC) for General Proofreading Tips, Proofreading Checklist, and various practice exercises. Find someone who will listen to your ideas, who can provide useful feedback, or who can teach you how to identify and correct these major errors. Where? Go to the WRITING STUDIO in Nesconset 19! 851-6245. Source: Boecherer, Michael, Joseph Gattiand Meridith Leo. “Some General Proofreading Tips.” Handout. Virtual Learning Commons. Developmental Writing. Suffolk County Community College. 11 Mar. 2013. Print
Helpful Internet Resources MYSCCC - Virtual Learning Commons – Writing Grammar Bytes at http://chompchomp.com/http://chompchomp.com/ Grammar Girl at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girlhttp://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl http://dictionary.reference.com/ http://thesaurus.com/