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Research paper guide: using grammar correctly

One of the keys to success in college or at work is being a good writer. You don’t have to be great or an expert writer, but being a good writer is a fabulous skill to have. Knowing the basics of proper grammar is definitely one of the cornerstones to effective writing.

Using grammar correctly helps to build your credibility. When someone is reading a piece of text that is full of errors, they start to lose trust in the writer’s knowledge about the topic. Don’t let that happen to you! Using proper grammar is also an easy way to rack up points on your final grade for the paper. Let this article be a guide for writing your next research paper.

Common laws of grammar:

  1. Make sure you have clear pronoun references. Example: Before putting the spoon down on the table, Casey licked it. Did he lick the spoon or the table? It’s unclear. It would be better to say, Casey licked the spoon before putting it down on the table.
  2. Don’t misplace your modifiers. Example: The zookeeper could see the elephants on the other side of the enclosure with binoculars. The reader is wondering who is wearing the binoculars – the zookeeper or the elephants. It would be more clear to say, The zookeeper wore binoculars to see the elephants on the other side of the enclosure.
  3. Avoid run-on sentences. They are confusing and meandering. Example: The day was very hot the travelers were sweating. This error could be corrected by using a semicolon to separate the two clauses or simply making it into two sentences. The day was very hot. The travelers were sweating. Or, the day was very hot; the travelers were sweating.
  4. Keep all your tenses in one frame of time. Example: The children were late for school; Rachel trips and falls. It would be better to say, the children were late for school; Rachel tripped and fell.
  5. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Example: That’s the right container to put your apples in. Even though it sounds quite formal, it’s more correct to say it this way: That’s the right container in which to put your apples.

Some rules of grammar are commonly used the wrong way in everyday speech. Of the 5 laws listed above, the first four are essential to keep. The fifth grammar law is commonly accepted in the incorrect form and in fact has become so commonly used that it’s become acceptable and most people don’t notice anymore. The best way to check your research paper for proper grammar use is to get an expert to inspect it for you. Asking someone who isn’t any better at using grammar than you are isn’t going to help you effectively. They might even give you wrong advice to cleaning up your grammar usage; that would be very counter-productive! Along with a good grammar review, make sure all your words are spelled correctly. The two work hand in hand to make a paper really shine.