Guest post by Steven Grella
While I have come to know that my grammar and punctuation gradually improves the older I get, now that I am in college I quickly realized I needed to take a proactive step by enhancing my understanding of the parts of speech, along with improving the common mistakes I tend to make in the papers I write for class. The few steps I took have enhanced the structure of my essays and allowed me to take a corrective approach at dealing with the main issues that always seem to get me into trouble. Hopefully sharing these with you will help you to improve writing your own works.
Improve writing: Parts of Speech
More than just producing a written paper with an essay title, introduction, main body, conclusion and references, I find it important that I continue to understand the parts of speech. Every word in every sentence I write plays a significant role in creating my “speech”. I use verbs as a way to produce an action such as swimming, eating, thinking, growing or studying. I use nouns as a way to define an object such as “book”, “teacher” or “classroom”. The pronouns I use as part of my speech works as an alternative in place of a noun such as “he” instead of “Roger”, or “it” instead of “Maserati”.
To ensure I describe the word properly, I use an adjective to be very specific. Instead of saying the word “campus” by itself, I can use an adjective along with it for a better description that might include “beautiful campus”, “busy campus” or “university campus”. To accentuate a verb, I use an adverb instead of an adjective. An adverb example might be stated “he spoke loudly” instead of just “he spoke.” Finally, I use a preposition as a specific way to describe a movement or position of a noun when placed in a sentence. A preposition could be defined as a position “I walked over ‘to’ see her”, where “to” is the position preposition. A movement preposition would be described as “I walked ‘through’ the door”, where “through” shows movement.
Improve writing: Punctuation and Grammar
The common mistakes I make using punctuation and grammar often include bad syntax, by placing words in technically challenging structures. By playing around with a variety of syntax I realize I can easily transform any sentence. My last sentence can also be stated “I can easily transform any sentence playing around with a variety of syntax.”
I also realize that I am not very good at using the correct tense. Sometimes I will even use present tense in the same sentence with past tense, such as “Not long ago I asked Bill what he thinks about Mary. In the last sentence “asked” is past tense and “thinks” is present tense. A proper sentence would be “Not long ago I asked Bill what he thought about Mary.” Finally, I realize I need to reduce any unnecessary words. I noticed that by minimizing my writing, my speech improves. Slowly reading through the essays I write, I ask if every word is necessary or if it is better left out.
Improve writing: Reasoning
Part of writing involves “reasoning”. To write an effective essay requires at least a basic understanding of structure, argumentation and presentation. If I develop an essay founded on poor structure, and used poor referencing techniques, along with unclear reasoning and generalizations (including assertions and speculations), I am sure to produce a poorly written paper.
I have begun to spend a great amount of time working on my vocabulary and using/quoting well-known phrases correctly. I work hard to avoid assumptions and stay away from inadvertent or inappropriate use of metaphors, while still remembering to entertain my targeted audience. Most importantly, any work that is not solely mine is fully acknowledged with detailed citations.