1. Respect Grammar Rules: To succeed as a writer, respect the rules of grammar because flaws in your work are not minor, they are fatal. Grammar is a system of rules for speaking and writing, and that system was not created just so the English teachers could harass you. It exists to facilitate communications.

2. Do not Change Tenses: If you begin to write in one tense, you should not switch to another.

3. Know How To Use The Possessive Case: Most nouns are made possessive by adding ‘s. Example: The lady’s purse, a dog’s chew toy. However, if a noun ends with “s” already, and is plural, simply add an apostrophe: the dogs’ ears. A singular noun ending in “s” may be made possessive either way: The actress’s role/The actress’ role.
When joint possession is being shown, the “’s” usually is added only to the last member of the series. Example: Janet and Becky’s mother with take us there.
However, if what is possessed is not identical, each noun in the series should have an “s”. Example: Janet’s and Becky’s mothers are taking us there.
With compound nouns, the “s” is added to the final word. Example: My mother-in-law’s dress ripped.
The personal pronoun it does not use an apostrophe in its possessive form. Example: The cat scratched its owner ( right). The cat scratched it’s owner (wrong).

4. Make Verbs Agree with Subjects: Plural subjects require plural verbs; singular subjects require singular verbs. When writing a long or complicated sentence, check to be certain your verb agrees in number with its subject. Example: One of the nicest memories Sharon has are those memories of her wedding (wrong). One of the nicest memories Sharon has is the memory of her wedding (right) or One of the nicest memories Sharon has are those of her wedding (right).

5. Avoid Dangling Modifiers: A dangling modifier is a word or group of words that appears to modify an inappropriate word in the same sentence. The error occurs most often when passive rather than active verbs are used. Example: In drawing the picture, his wife was used as the model (Dangling). In drawing the picture, he used his wife as a model (Revised and correct).

6. Avoid shifts in Pronoun Forms: Be consistent in your use of a pronoun. Do not switch from singular forms to plural forms. Example: After one has written a paper, they should take a break (Inconsistent). After one has written a paper, one should take a break (consistent).

7. Avoid Splitting Infinitives: An infinitive is split when an adverb is placed between the word to and a verb. Example. She wanted to quickly run the race (bad). She wanted to run the race quickly (better).

8. Avoid Common Mistakes: Remember the difference between who and whom, lay and lie. Many grammatical errors occur because the writer tries too hard not to make a mistake.

9. Be Sensitive to Changes in the Language: Remember, grammar rules change. It grows with the times. What’s good today may be bad tomorrow so today’s rules have no better shot at immortality that thee and thou had.

10. Prefer Good Writing to Good Grammar. Keep in mind that good grammar, ever perfect grammar, does not guarantee good writing. Whenever you knowingly use poor grammar, ask yourself if (1) Is my meaning clear? If the answer is no, rewrite. (2) What am I getting in return for bad grammar? If you can’t answer that, don’t use bad grammar.


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