Ever been marked down on an assignment because of poor grammar and spelling? This can be avoided, your grades needn't suffer from illiteracy, just use this simple guide. :3 MS Word and other word processors do have spelling and grammar checks, but as good as they can be, they won't always get it right. I would recommend using those features and then proof-reading things yourself. If you can, try reading your work out loud and see if it would make sense that way. So, on with the show!
Have you ever tried to read a really large chunk of text that hasn't been divided into paragraphs? Chances are you came away from it either frustrated, with a headache or both. Did you know that approximately 40% of people have some kind of visual impairment? That means you've got a 2/5 chance of having someone with a visual impairment reading and marking your work. The harder it is for them to read, the less generous they're going to be with marks. Yes, I know, markers are supposed to be impartial, but everyone's human and if they can't read what you've written or typed, how can they mark your work?
The rule is this: a paragraph is a section of the text distinguished by either an indent to the first line, an empty line or both. Notice how my text is spaced into several paragraphs as indicated by leaving a line between each? If your work is to be double spaced, you're going to need to rely on indents which are easy to insert into MS Word. If you right click your document and select 'Paragraph' there should be an option to indent the first line of every paragraph.
So when should you make a new paragraph?
When you start a new topic
When you skip to a new time
When you skip to a new place
When a new person begins to speak
When you want to produce a dramatic effect
Paragraphs are generally 6-10 sentences long, though that is just a rough estimate, as a paragraph containing lots of small sentences might have upwards of 15 of them. I wouldn't recommend this, as it is usually indicative of sloppy work. Just practice and try to build up an instinct for it. Eventually it will become second nature to you.
Nouns, Adjectives and Verbs
Here's a simple reference for those of you who need a refresher.
Nouns: naming words, or words that identify an object or concept. Table, car and communism are all nouns.
Proper Noun: Names given to specific objects or concepts, or groups of objects or concepts. Names of people, places, groups, etc. are all proper nouns.
Verb: An action word such as run, ran, etc. are all verbs.
Adverb: A word that adds description to a verb. Words such as quickly ('quick' being the verb, 'ly' being the addition of description).
Adjective: Descriptive words. Soft, radiant, etc.
Conjuncture: A combination of words. They will into They'll, etc.
There are plenty of others, but those are the main categories of words.
This one is really easy to pick up on, but I've seen a lot of people forget to bother with it. Believe me when I say capitalization is important in academia. Because it is so basic, if you mus it out, it will indicate a very childish level of literacy to your teachers or lecturers. So here's the simple rule; capitalize at the beginning of a sentance, paragraph or when using a proper noun. A proper noun is defined as the individual name given to a person, place or object. The word 'table' is a noun because it is a name for the collective object we recognize as a table. A proper noun is when you give a single table a specific name. God only knows why you'd name your table, but there you go. The same applies for names of groups of things. The name of a sports team would be capitalized.
As for titles, there are different capitalization conventions from each area of academia, but the general rule is, any word that isn't a joining word is to be capitalized. Here's an example.
The Wind in the Willows.
Notice the words 'in' and 'the' were not capitalized, but 'The', 'Wind' and 'Willows' were? As a note, the word 'the' is only ever capitalized at the beginning of a title, paragraph or sentence.
This is a big one, and also one of the more simple ones to grasp. A period (.) goes at the end of every sentence. Every sentence. It marks the space of a breath and allows the reader to make logical sense of the jumble of words called the English language. The most common and under appreciated punctuation mark is the humble comma (,). Commas are used when a sentence needs a break but isn't over. When making an in-text list you should use a comma after everything in the list except pairs that go together and the last item on said list. e.g. "A kitchen is full of many utensils, some for eating, others for cooking or baking. Tongs, spatulas, knives, forks, spoons and ladles are all important fixtures of any kitchen."
Commas are also used to divide up sentences where a period is inappropriate. A simple Google search will pull up a lot of results on comma usage to help you figure out the exact rules this little punctuation mark goes by. I would highly recommend schooling yourself on this if you want your work to look at least half way formal and literate.
Colons and semicolons (; ) and (: ) are not often used, but they're to indicate a run-on sentence. Whenever you feel a comma doesn't apply, or if there's something that needs mentioning within the same sentence but which doesn't flow, you add a colon. Semicolons indicate the beginning of a list or extensions of titles. You will often see them in book or movie titles like Star Wars Episode X: Luke Finally gets Laid. They're not commonplace, so be careful of overusing them.
Apostrophes have three uses in the English language. The first is to indicate the omission of letters from a word or phrase. The phrase 'you are' can be shortened to 'you're' by the presence of an apostrophe. Likewise, in some poetic language it is appropriate to leave letters out of a single word, such as 'o'er' in place of 'over'. This is not appropriate for formal writing, however.
The second use is to indicate the possessive tense. An apostrophe followed by an 's' will indicate ownership of something. 'Harry's eyes' shows that the eyes mentioned in the phrase belong to Harry.
The third use is one not often found in formal writing, so I won't cover it here. Just remember that 'your' and 'you're' are completely different words with different meanings. 'Your' is a personal pronoun, whereas 'you're' is the conjuncture for 'you are', as shown above. The same applies for other conjunctive words such as 'its' and 'it's'.
Single or Double Quotation Marks
This one is fairly simple to pick up. Any direct quotation from someone else's writing needs to be surrounded by double quotation marks. "And just like that, we have a quote that I am acknowledging doesn't belong to me, but which I have taken and copied from someone else's work." Single quote marks are used to single out certain words or phrases which aren't direct quotations. You'll notice I have used them to indicate several words that do not belong within the context of the sentence I am writing. I want to indicate that they don't belong, and are a special thing to which the reader should pay attention. It's less important to get right than direct quotations.
Also remember to always reference the quoted works when writing for academia. Otherwise you could be accused of plagiarism or intellectual theft.
Here's some common spelling and grammar mistakes I see.
Lose - Opposite of win.
Loose - Opposite of tight.
Their - Possessive language indicating ownership. "Their car."
There - Referring to a place or idea. "The cat is over there."
They're - A conjunction for 'they are'. "They're waiting for us."
Your - Possessive language indicating that you own something. "Your hat."
You're - Conjunction for 'you are'. "You're a tool."
Its - Possessive language indicating one thing owning another. "The sun beamed its rays outward."
It's - Conjunction for 'it is' or 'it has'. "It's been a long time."
Effect - Noun. Indicative of a change that is the result of an action. "The effects of his actions were far-reaching."
Affect - Verb. If you can substitute 'affect' in a sentence with another verb and still have it make sense, you've got it right. "She was affected/eaten by her parents."
Weather - Rain, sunshine, snow, etc.
Whether - Conjunction. Expression a doubt or choice. "I am unsure whether or not you know how to use this word properly."
Alot - An animal that has nothing to do with speech.
A lot - A large amount.
Then - Used to indicate time. "Now and then."
Than - Used for comparison. "My English is better than your English."
It's really not that hard once you get the hang of it, and learning these simple things will make you literate and improve your marks for assignments. Hope I've helped. ^_^
tHA mnks,,,,but I
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this post is extremely useful for Asian(Me),this post can help get better in compo.
Do not forget to add the increasingly common errors between using two, to, and too.