Useful Grammar Tips


These Spelling and Grammar Tips were originally for my Freshman English classes, but you might find them useful too!

  1. Affect: This is a word implying cause: it influences something else and is therefore an action word (a verb). For example, “How does violence on television affect children?” When writing a sentence like this, ask yourself, if Affect is being used as an action (verb) or a result (noun).
  1. Effect: This is a word meaning result. It is almost always used as a noun. For example, “The effect (result) of television violence on children is that they play war games instead of freeze tag.” When something Affects something else, it is Effective, or, To Affect something produces an Effect.

Bad grammar affects (action) my vision and that has an effect (result) on your grades.

  1. ITS vs. IT’S: Its = possessive; It’s = It is. It’s possible that this is its first time in the marketplace.
  2. THEN vs. THAN Then = time; Than = comparison. First I am going to swim, and then I’ll go shopping; I would rather swim than shop.

Comma Rules to Eat, Sleep, and Party by:

  1. Commas precede the words: AND, OR, BUT, FOR, NOR, SO, and YET
    ONLY when what is on the other side of the comma is a complete sentence.

Examples: I hate to write, yet I do it anyway. I hate to write yet do it anyway.
I love my English class and always come on time. I love my English class, and I always come on time.

  1. Introductory phrases need to be followed by a comma. For example: On my way to class, I fell into a ditch.
    This needs a comma because “on my way to class” introduces the sentence which follows it. Another example: Although I am always here, I didn’t hear the assignment.
  1. Do not split two complete sentences with a comma.
    For example: I came late, I always come late.

This is called a comma splice. It is a major sin among sins when talking about grammar. In fact, most other comma mistakes are forgivable. This one can land you back in 101 for a second semester.

This is, however, the time to use …

  1. Semicolons. Semicolons should only be used to connect two complete sentences. For example: We went to the park; it was fun. Or: I love to write in-class essays; I used to hate it.
  1. Colons may be used to introduce or to separate and must follow a COMPLETE SENTENCE (except quotes). For example, This leads us to one conclusion: English is more fun than math. Or, We know how to teach them these days: give them something fun to do.