Editing the grammar of your essay

Editing your essay for grammar errors is necessary

No matter how adept you are at grammar and syntax, you still must edit your papers after you have written them. Even the most intuitive and capable grammarian makes mistakes, especially when caught in the middle of a long writing project. If you are not naturally good at grammar, the need to edit is even larger and more pressing. Professors of all disciplines are trained to closely study their students’ papers for sloppy writing and obvious grammatical errors. If your essay is poorly written, the quality of your ideas will not matter. Bad writing can ruin your essay grade, no matter how well you did on the research and analysis components.

How do you edit your essay’s grammar?

Editing your paper should consist of multiple stages. First, you should take a break to allow yourself to forget the essay assignment. It is far harder to locate errors in a paper if you just finished writing it, because you still have the idealized version of the paper stuck in your head. After waiting a few days, you can return to your paper and review it. Print your paper out and take a red pen; sit down and read the essay aloud. Reading aloud is one of the best possible ways to locate awkward sentences structures, missing words, improper verb conjugations, noun verb errors, and other grammatical flaws.

Take notes in the margins of your paper and underline all questionable or incorrect phrases, words, or sentences. If you are uncertain about whether a phrase is grammatical or not, circle it and mark it with a question mark. When in doubt, you should probably rewrite an awkward sounding passage, even if you can’t find exactly what is wrong with it on a grammatical level.

What should you look out for?

Look out for noun verb disagreements, and verb conjugations that are inappropriate given the tense of your paper. Most papers are written in the ongoing present, or the simple past tense. Make sure your tense is consistent throughout the document. Make sure that every sentence in your paper is actually a full sentence, with a noun and verb. Rewrite passively worded sentences so that they are more active and interesting. Consider diagramming some of the sentences in your paper to practice your grammatical skills and ensure that everything is constructed properly. Avoid run-on sentences and do not use too many commas or semicolons, especially if you don’t know how to use them.