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Celebrate National Grammar Day

“It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4th to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

What is Grammar? According to the Oxford Dictionary, grammar is "the whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology (including inflections) and sometimes also phonology and semantics." Great! Now we know what grammar is, but what the heck is syntax, morphology, phonology, and semantics?

Syntax is "the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language." Morphology is the study of word forms. Phonology is the study of sounds within a language. Finally, semantics is the study of meaning in linguistics.

All of these elements come together to form what we call grammar, which simply means that using good grammar helps you to express your ideas in a way that is structured properly according to your language by arranging your words in a way that is both visually and auditorily pleasing to convey a specific meaning or message to your audience.

If you do not know the basic rules of grammar or you chose to ignore them, your writing will suffer dearly because your audience will not understand what you are trying to convey, which can obviously lead to a number of issues including poor grades, low job performance, and utter confusion and chaos. Without grammar, civilization as we know it would collapse!

Learning the rules of grammar is essential for students because it will not only help you pass your classes but will continue to benefit you in the future no matter your career goals: writing is an essential part of one's personal and professional life. Knowing how to write a well-written, professional sentence shows a level of sophistication and attention to detail that will help you get ahead in life.

Why You Should Love Grammar

💖Grammar Is Useful

Grammar is useful because it helps convey your message to your audience in a way that is both clear and comprehendible. Without grammar, we would not be able to communicate with one another or understand what we are reading.

💖Grammar is Satisfying

Having good grammar skills is very satisfying; when you are writing and craft a well-written, grammatically correct sentence, you should feel proud that you are able to communicate your ideas in a way that is clear and proper.

National Grammar Day Activities

Get "hands-on" experience by practicing your grammar skills with pen and paper. In the age of digital everything, it can be hard to improve your grammar skills. My recommendation is to print an assignment, such as a discussion board thread, forum response, or essay assignment; then, do some editing and revising by hand. This will help you see some of the grammar errors you are making that you might have missed when staring into the abyss of a digital screen.

Basic Rules to Master

#1 Write in Complete Sentences

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is fairly common for students to turn in work that has a number of incomplete sentences, called fragments, because they do not know some of the rules of grammar that help in avoiding fragments. A complete sentence will always have a subject, a verb, and a complete thought, so when you write and proofread, ask yourself if your sentences have these elements, and if the answer is "no," you need to revise your sentence.

Example: "Because I was hungry. I went to get pizza at the cafeteria. Which has the best pepperoni pizza."

In this example, there are two fragments (F) and one independent clause (IC).

(F) Because I was hungry. (IC) I went to get pizza at the cafeteria. (F) Which has the best pepperoni pizza.

The first fragment has both a subject and verb, but it does not have a complete thought, so it can't stand alone. The second fragment doesn't have a subject or a verb because it is just additional information that supports the idea in the independent clause.

The most common mistake students make is to put a period either after or before a subordinate clause (a clause or phrase that is not an independent clause and is, therefore, a fragment by itself). If you have a subordinate clause before your independent clause, you join the two clauses with a comma: "Because I was hungry, I went to the cafeteria."

If you have a subordinate clause after your independent clause, usually you follow the independent clause with a comma (however, this is not always the case): "I went to get pizza at the cafeteria, which has the best pepperoni pizza."

Another example is where you don't use a comma after your independent clause when you have a subordinate clause at the end: "I went to get pizza at the cafeteria because I was hungry." See how the subordinate clause is the same as it was in the first example, but now that I have attached it to the end of my independent clause I do not need a comma.


#2 Avoid Writing Run-On Sentences

Another common grammar issue that students tend to make has to do with run-on sentences. A run-on sentence is not simply a sentence that is too long: run-on sentences are sentences that have multiple independent clauses that are not joined in a grammatically correct way. There are two basic types of run-on sentences: comma splices and sentence fuses.

Comma Splice - A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined with a comma but no coordinating conjunction.

Sentence Fuse - A sentence fuse occurs when two independent clauses are joined with no punctuation or coordinating conjunction.

One of the terms that students need to know when it comes to avoiding run-on sentences is coordinating conjunction. There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language: FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, & SO. The coordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses but only if there is a comma at the end of the first independent clause.

Example of a comma splice: I went to the Reading and Writing Center to get help, I met with a tutor who helped me revise my essay.

In this example of a comma splice, there is a comma between the two independent clauses, which makes it grammatically incorrect. We need a coordinating conjunction to fix the error: "I went to the Reading and Writing Center to get help, AND I met with a tutor who helped me revise my essay."

By adding the coordinating conjunction "and," the run-on sentence is corrected. You could also correct this error by replacing the comma with a period or semi-colon.

Example of a sentence fuse: "I went to the Reading and Writing Center to get help I met with a tutor who helped me revise my essay."

In this example of a sentence fuse, you can see that the two independent clauses are "fused" together. You can fix this error by adding a comma and coordinating conjunction, a period, or a semi-colon between the independent clauses: "I went to the Reading and Writing Center to get help, AND I met with a tutor who helped me revise my essay." By adding some type of punctuation, you de"fuse" the sentence and correct the error.


#3 Avoiding Conversational Language and Writing in Academic Voice

This is a super tough one for some, what the heck is conversational language, and what's the big deal, if you know, you write your essay and you don't use an academic voice, whatever that is, right? Well, here's the lowdown on how to avoid writing in a conversational voice like I have been doing in the last few sentences. The difference between conversational voice and academic voice has to do with the vocabulary you use, the point of view from which you write, and the tone you create with your writing.

Vocabulary: The vocabulary you use should be more formal than you would use when having a conversation with a friend. Don't use slang, text talk, or abbreviations either.

Third-Person Point of View: Third-person point of view means that you are writing from the he/she/they/them view instead of the I/me/mine, you/your/yours, or the us/we/our view.

Tone: Tone of voice must match the writing style for your assignment. The correct tone will develop naturally if you use the proper vocabulary and point of view.

Bad grammar example: In a piece of writing by John Smith I read that there's like a lot of problems with college people not using grammar good in their writing which is really sort of crazy cause this is college.

Corrected example: In an article by John Smith, he stated that the issue of college students not using correct grammar in their writing has increased significantly.

As you can see, the corrected sentence uses academic vocabulary and is written from the third-person point of view, which gives the sentence a formal, academic tone.

Learning these grammar rules will SIGNIFICANTLY improve your writing!

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