Grammar Tips for Writers — Writing Compelling Content

Having a talent for writing, whether it’s writing academic essays or writing fiction is great. Talent will only take you so far. Knowing how grammar works will always augment the quality of your writing.

1. Use the Active and Not Passive Voice

We use the term “voice” to classify the relationship between the one (or one’s) doing (or not doing) the action in grammar using voice.

Active Voice

Active voice is a grammar term used to classify sentences in which the subject is the one performing the action described by the verb.

Passive Voice

The active voice is different to the passive voice. When you use the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is the one being acted on.

2. Grammar Tips for Writers -When to Use Which

Your writing is better when you use the active voice because it is easier to understand. Active voice will result in shorter, sharper sentences that are easier for the reader to follow. When you use vivid action verbs, you make your writing clearer. You also help the reader see in their mind what’s going on.

As always in English, there are occasions when you shouldn’t use the active voice. Sometimes, it is better to use the passive voice.

The passive voice is usually better for technical writing for example. It’s also good for adding more authority for to a document. People want to feel more engaged when they read technical writing. They will know more about the subject of the writing.

Otherwise, you should avoid it. Another reason you shouldn’t use the passive voice is it takes more time to write your text. You also need to edit the grammar and syntax before you can use the passive voice. Before you use it, make sure to check for a restatement of the same idea with other words. The active voice will make the writing clearer and easier.

3. Understand Subject/Verb Agreement

The subject verb agreement rule is one of the most important tips for writers. This rule says that the number of subjects in your sentence, must agree with the verb.

Therefore, singular subjects agree with singular verbs and plural subjects and agree with plural verbs. Writers are able to produce solid, correct sentences by following this rule.

Understanding of how this rule works is acquired over time as one learns which subjects and verbs go together when practicing.

4. Be Aware of Your Spelling

Think about how you feel reading a piece of writing where there is bad spelling. Frustrating, isn’t it? Now imagine inflicting that on your reader.

Your grades will be lower if you do not know how to spell. Incorrect spelling also detracts from the quality of your writing.

Spelling is also another ability improved over time. If you are unclear about your spelling, use the spell checker on your word processing program. Dictionaries also help.

5. Know How to Use Punctuation Effectively

Punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. With this kind of power, it’s wise to learn to use it effectively. Learn when to use commas, semicolons, and the like, as well as when to use the mighty period.

Make sure that when you write, you use punctuation in a way that properly conveys the meaning of your words. This is a skill that can make your writing shine.

6. Understand Capitalization

The advent of social media has changed how capital letters are used. Several long held rules are no longer being observed as capital letters are randomly used in texts and comments.

Generally though, sentences are supposed to start with capital letters. The subject of the sentence, if it is the name of a person, also receives a capital letter.

Place names and locations and other proper nouns receive capital letters as well.

8. Watch Your Verb Tenses

This is another one of the grammar tips for writers that understanding will take your writing to the next level. As a rule, your verb tenses should be consistent with the time period the action you are writing took place.

There are many tenses in English. It may be best to become familiar with each to decide which is best for the particular piece of writing you are doing.

9. Avoid Using Too Many Adverbs

Using too many adverbs in your writing is considered lazy. Adverbs are supposed to describe verbs more fully.

The general consensus is that they clutter sentences, without adding much meaning. Using strong verbs in a standalone fashion is preferred.

To Wrap Up

If you follow the basics of grammar, you’ll never have any issues but that’s not always the case. Some authors can slip up on punctuation or misspell things. So knowing a few of these lesser-known grammar rules can help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes and still produce the best work possible.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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