As we head back into that exciting fall semester, you might wanna take a closer look back at your writing habits. Sure, auto-correct does fix your typos, but doing well on essays in the 21st century is going to take more than getting the technical-side of things right. In order to keep your professors entertained while they read, why don’t we take a second to brush up on your grammar skills so you can express your full range of thoughts?
1. The apostrophe in “it’s”
It’s simple once you get the hang of it. When you put an apostrophe inside the word “it’s”, it translates to “it is”. However, when using the possessive for “it”, you do not use an apostrophe. For example, if you were to describe a large creature you would say “Its eyes were red,” not “It is eyes were red,” which is why in every situation where the “it” possesses something, there should be no apostrophe.
2. Italicized titles
If you are writing in MLA style for your essays, always ALWAYS remember to go back and italicize the titles of any books, films, newspapers, and websites you may mention. If it takes writing down a reminder for yourself before you submit the piece, make sure you jot it down. Showmanship says quite a lot about what you plan to show to your instructors, hence why you dress up before interviews and presentations. You want to appear composed and like you know what you’re doing, which is why the details count so much.
Writing in another language? It’s going to be a pain in your neck with that English keyboard, but getting those accents on point will make your professors especially pleased and impressed. With the advent of so many new websites, there’s sure to be one out there which enables easy placement of accents in your chosen language.
Along with this tip, don’t wait until after you finish your essay in English before you attempt to translate it or add marks. That’s a mess of forgotten accents as well as other mistakes waiting to happen. Taking your time to write out the essay on paper or using a website online with the correct accents will be the easiest way to achieve top grammar marks.
4. Easy on the adverbs
Using a few adverbs is fine, but when it comes to writing essays, most adverbs are excessive. An adverb tells us how, when, where, how much, and with what frequency. A few examples are: Quickly, poorly, absolutely, seldom, and extremely. Although it may feel like adding adverbs is the way to spice up your diction in the moment, too many makes your essay come across as rushed and your sentence structure feel lazy. Take it easy on the adverbs, there are better ways to meet the required word count, I promise.
So you’re feeling like spicing up the game by throwing in a semicolon. Let me tell you right now that having two in an essay is pushing it. While semicolons are a useful grammatical device, they’ve garnered an unfortunate reputation for being used by students who have no idea how to use them. Don’t make the attempt in order to look fancy, remember why you were inclined to use it in the first place.
Semicolons are used to connect ideas that relate to one another without using other words such as and, but, or yet. An example would be:
The tree outside was coated in an armada of beautiful leaves; my favorites were the red ones.
While both ideas could be sentences on their own, the semicolon smooths the flow of the statement as a whole. And remember, if you’re ever unsure about whether you’re using something right or not, find a way around using it instead.
6. Active vs. Passive voice
Yet another grammar lesson that your 12th grade English teacher attempted to impose on a rambunctious group of kids. Look, if you don’t understand this one, take a few minutes to go look it up and review. It won’t hurt to brush up on one of the most common features of the English language, and besides, your professor will be flattered if you come to them after the first week of class with a couple of genuine questions.