Proper essay grammar is incredibly important, whether you’re looking to get your essay published or impress your professor. That said, “irregardless” (see what we did there?) of how intelligent you may be or how monumental your essay is, you can spoil the whole thing simply by committing a common grammar mistake that, really, almost all of us commit at least once per paper (if not more).
1. Common Comma Errors
The first and most common comma error that gets in the way of proper essay grammar are missing commas. Commas have a number of purposes, such as:
- They allow writers to separate non-essential information (i.e. “My cat, which is orange, caught a mouse”)
- They allow writers to combine two separate and independent clauses (i.e. “I wanted to go to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break, but I couldn’t pay for the hotel room”)
- They allow writers to include an introductory element (i.e. “Afterward, everyone must take off their shoes before entering the classroom”)
But missing commas aren’t the only problem. In fact, a lot of writers add a whole lot of unnecessary commas to their content, like, “the kid, who took the ball, is in my grade.” Comma splices are also often mistakenly used when the writer should, in fact, use a semicolon—which brings us to our next point:
2. The Misunderstood Semicolon
We don’t see semicolons much anymore, and from our understanding it’s simply because writers don’t know how to use them. Semicolons not only help writers connect any closely related ideas together, but using them properly helps add sophistication and style to your paper. Here’s a basic example of how proper essay grammar through the use of a semicolon can improve your writing:
Incorrect: The dog is black, it is also young.
Correct: The dog is black; it is also young.
When read, those two sentences should sound differently from one another when read in your mind.
3. Possessive Errors
Both native and foreign English speakers regularly make a lot of mistakes when it comes to possessives, which, for the most part, entails deciding whether you should place an apostrophe before or after an “s,” or whether one should be used at all. Here’s an example of a common possessive error:
- Two kitten’s were playing with a ball of yarn
Many writers will pluralize the “kitten’s” with an apostrophe when, in fact, anything plural should be spelled without an apostrophe (“kittens”). A more common mistake that those who do proper essay grammar checks see is the improper use of “it’s” and “its”:
- It’s: a shortened form of the two words “it is” (i.e. it’s blue, it’s a cat, it’s a tree)
- Its: indicates possession (i.e. its meow is incredibly loud)
These essay grammar errors may seem small and inconsequential. But to anyone reviewing your paper, these mistakes bring into question your ability to learn and how well you can pay attention to detail, both of which will have a negative impact on your grade or can dash your hopes of having your work published.
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