English really can be a tough language to learn. Grammar mis-haps are commonplace even amongst native English speakers, so if English is your second language, it stands to reason that you will from time to time stumble when you are writing in English.
It is however absolutely vital that your work is free from grammatical errors before you submit it, because it could have a seriously detrimental effect on your grades.
The good news is that help is on hand in the form of this guide we’ve put together for you. It’s designed to help you navigate your way through some of the most common grammar slip-ups and should prove useful whether you’re a native or non-native English speaker.
Mistake 1: Out-of-place apostrophes
Possession – apostrophes are used to indicate that something belongs to something or someone.
When something belongs to one person or thing, the apostrophe goes before the ‘s’.
Example: The student’s essay (one student owns one essay).
When something belongs to more than one person or thing, the apostrophe goes after the ‘s’.
Example: The students’ essays (several students own several essays), or the students’ bar (several students use a single bar).
Something missing – apostrophes are also used to indicate a word that has been abbreviated.
Example: Wouldn’t (the apostrophe denotes the missing letter ‘o’ from the original ‘would not’).
Not for plurals – apostrophes must never be used to make a word plural, even when it is made up of numbers.
INCORRECT – The student’s are in the library
CORRECT – The students are in the library
INCORRECT – She went to university during the 1990’s
CORRECT – She went to university during the 1990s
Mistake 2: Their, there and they’re
Possession – ‘their’ refers to something belonging to them.
Example: Their essays
Location – ‘there’ refers to a place.
Example: That classroom over there
Statement of fact – ‘there’ is also used to make a statement.
Example: There was no one in the library.
They are – ‘they’re’ is the shortened version of ‘they are’, with the apostrophe replacing the missing letter ‘a’.
Example: They’re all pleased with the grades they have achieved.
INCORRECT – There grades had improved since they started using a professional proofreading service
CORRECT – Their grades had improved since they started using a professional proofreading service
INCORRECT – Have you seen they’re new science block?
CORRECT – Have you seen their new science block?
Mistake 3: Your and You’re
Possession – ‘your’ means something belonging to you.
Example: Your books, your essay.
You are – ‘you’re’ is the shortened version of ‘you are’, with the apostrophe replaced the missing letter ‘a’.
Example: You’re doing really well.
INCORRECT – Hope your well
CORRECT – Hope you’re well
Mistake 4: Fewer and Less
Individual items – always use ‘fewer’ for items that can be counted individually.
Example: There were fewer than 10 people at the lecture.
Commodities – use ‘less’ for something that cannot be individually counted, such as sugar or water.
Example: There is less water in the reservoir now than this time last year.
INCORRECT – Less than five bananas
CORRECT – Fewer than five bananas
Mistake 5: Than and Then
Comparisons – use ‘than’ when comparing things.
Example: James had a better chance of getting good grades than his fellow students because he used a professional proof reader.
Following on – use ‘then’ to indicate something following something else.
Example: Let’s try the chocolate cake first, then the carrot cake.
INCORRECT – He was a better footballer then his father
CORRECT – He was a better footballer than his father
INCORRECT – She’s just finishing her essay than she’ll be leaving
CORRECT – She’s just finishing her essay then she’ll be leaving
Why Correct use of Grammar is so Important
Incorrect grammar really can take the edge off a piece of work. If you would rather not risk losing out on the grades you have worked so hard to achieve and you are even marginally unsure as to whether your essay or thesis is free from grammatical errors, why not place it in professional hands?
Here at Proof master our team of academic editors are ready to help you make your work shine with success by ensuring every word and paragraph is proof perfect. Why not give us a call or upload your work for an instant quotation?
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