College of Staten Island
 The City University of New York
 
  
Writing

   Hildegard Hoeller,
   WAC/WID coordinator
   Office: Building 2S Rm 130
   Phone: 718.982.4138
   Fax: 718.982.3643

   Email WAC/WID


Writing Across the Curriculum/
Writing in the Disciplines
for Students

 Grammar Tips and Tricks

We’ve compiled our own favorite strategies for common grammar and spelling mistakes. We’ve also included links to helpful videos, comics, and other pages. Check them all out, then choose the tips that you can remember easiest.

 

Apostrophes

Strategies:

If you tend to leave out apostrophes or use them incorrectly, add a note to your checklist to check every word that ends in “-s” or “-es” to see if it needs an apostrophe.

Links:

Here’s a video that sums up the rules of apostrophes (basically an easier way to understand your grammar book).

This is another “lesson” on apostrophes that’s easier to understand than most grammar books.

The chart in this quirky comic will help you determine if and how you should use an apostrophe for a specific example in your paper.

 

Sentence Fragments, Run-ons, and Comma Splices

Strategies:

  • Make sure there is a subject and verb for each sentence.
  • Never begin a sentence with the word which. If you find that you want to add a thought to the previous sentence that begins with the word which, attach it with a comma.
  • There are a lot of marks of punctuation to express ideas that don’t fit into simple sentence structures. Experiment with using dashes and semi-colons for those extra thoughts you want to tack on at the end (parentheses are often effective too). Begin to notice how other writers use these punctuation marks.

Links:

Check out Grammar Girl’s podcast on run-ons and sentence fragments.

Grammar Bytes has lots of suggestions for fixing run-ons and comma splices.

This video is a small lesson in identifying run-on sentences (kind of boring but helpful).

Here are some very understandable videos on marks of punctuation that can save you from run-ons and fragments:

And if you ever wanted to hear the rules of commas to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” here’s your chance.

 


Subject/Verb Agreement

Strategies:
One trick to remember subject/verb agreement in English is:
Only the subject or the verb should end in –s, never both of them.

For example,
“The apples are good.”
“The apple is good.”

Caution: There are exceptions! Some plurals don’t take an –s (for example, children).

Links:

This video is intended for SAT prep; it’s a very thorough and understandable explanation of subject/verb agreement.

Here’s Grammar Girl’s take on subject/verb agreement.

 

 

Commonly Confused Words and Spellings

Click here for Commonly Confused Words and Spellings.