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English Grammar and Punctuation Guide

When it comes to writing a paper, the greatest ideas can be trumped by poor grammar and punctuation. While you can use a spelling or grammar checker to correct most errors, even computer-based checkers make mistakes. To write a good paper, you do not need to be able to identify the eight parts of speech or diagram a sentence. However, a working knowledge of basic grammar and punctuation skills will help you avoid making common mistakes. Keeping your paper free from run-ons, fragments, agreement issues and confusing words will help your ideas stand out instead of getting lost in a sea of errors.

The Importance of Grammar and Punctuation

Maybe learning proper grammar and punctuation does not seem important. After all, spelling and grammar checkers will correct most of the mistakes you make. However, there are many benefits that come from knowing how to use proper grammar and punctuation, including the ability to write with confidence.

  • Why Learn About English Grammar? – Increased confidence is one of many reasons Grammarpedia gives to stress the importance of learning about English grammar.
  • Grammar Police – Don’t get caught by the Grammar Police! Robert Brunner outlines some basic grammatical errors and why avoiding them is important.

Grammar Activities and Games

Building your grammar and punctuation skills may not seem like a lot of fun. However, the more you practice using proper grammar and punctuation skills, the more likely you are to identify and correct similar errors in your own writing. Even games and activities designed for kids can prove helpful in building your grammar skills.

  • LearnEnglish: Grammar Exercises – You do not have to be an English language learner to benefit from the British Council’s LearnEnglish grammar exercises. Exercises cover a variety of topics ranging from adjectives and prepositions to words that are commonly confused.
  • Daily Grammar – Daily Grammar has nearly 500 lessons and 100 quizzes to help you practice using the various parts of speech and mechanics, such as punctuation and capitalization.
  • Grammar Bytes – Earn virtual prizes as you correct sentences with comma splices, errors in apostrophe use and other grammatical errors.
  • Guide to Grammar and Writing: Quizzes – Capital Community College Foundation offers nearly 200 quizzes related to grammar and punctuation as part of its online Guide to Grammar and Writing.
  • Internet Grammar of English – Brush up on your grammar skills with a free online course from University College London.

Common Errors in Grammar

If English grammar overwhelms you and it seems like there are too many rules to remember, focus on a few. Learning some of the common errors in grammar and punctuation will help you avoid making the same mistakes in your own writing. It will also make learning the rules of grammar and punctuation a little more manageable.

Grammar Guides

Every writer needs a quality grammar and style guide. A guide will help you gain a better understanding of the principles of grammar and offer ideas for how to structure the sentences and paragraphs within your paper. It will also help you understand feedback you receive from a professor or anyone you have edit your paper.

  • Purdue OWL: Grammar – Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a comprehensive resource for all aspects of writing and its grammar section is no exception. The guide provides articles, examples and handouts for topics ranging from common spelling errors to irregular verbs.
  • Punctuation Tree – Click on a punctuation mark on the Punctuation Tree to receive an overview of the rules surrounding that punctuation mark and examples of its use.
  • UW-Madison’s Writer’s Handbook: Grammar and Punctuation – Go through the handbook’s editing checklist as you review your paper or read overviews of other topics related to grammar and punctuation, such as using dashes or learning how to proofread.
  • The English Language: A User’s Guide – Topics in this grammar and style guide are organized in alphabetical order, making it easy to find information on the word or area of grammar needing your attention.
  • The Punctuation Guide – Click on a punctuation mark to reveal an explanation and examples of how the mark is used.
  • Practical Guide to Punctuation – The Queen’s English Society’s Practice Guide to Punctuation will have you writing like the Queen. The guide offers explanations and examples of common punctuation marks and typographic devices.
  • A Quick Guide to Punctuation – This guide gives a brief overview of the type of punctuation used with different sentences types, such as compound and complex sentences, sentences with lists and sentences with quotations.
  • Grammarly Handbook – The Grammarly Handbook offers overviews and examples of issues in grammar, punctuation and mechanics. A handy grammar checker also helps you check your paper for errors.

Spelling and Grammar Checkers

Even though spelling and grammar checkers make mistakes, using a spelling and grammar gives you a place to start when it comes to identifying errors in your paper. Be sure to read over your paper after using a spelling or grammar checker to identify any mistakes the checker may have made or to find any errors it may have missed.

  • Grammar and Spell Check: Uses and Abuses – Lincoln University provides an overview of some of the errors spelling and grammar checkers make and tips for using checkers effectively.
  • How to Use a Computer Spellcheck – Frankfurt International School gives advice on using a computer’s spellcheck feature effectively and gives an overview of problems that may arise while using spellcheck.
  • Paper Rater – Paper Rater’s free spelling and grammar checker also rates your word choice and gives you an overview of stylistic elements used in your paper.


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