- Look up verbs in the dictionary or on the Internet, to see if they are irregular. For example, “to write” is an irregular verb, because we should say, “Justin Bieber has written his paper,” instead of “Justin Bieber has writed his paper.” Verbs normally end in –ed when we talk about something that already happened, but the verb to write doesn’t do that. Other irregular verbs include to be, to do, to eat, to feel, etc…
- When you have a series of verbs all in a row, you need to make sure they are the same kind of verb. For example: correct: Fred Figglehorn screamed, squeaked, and raced away. incorrect: Fred Figglehorn screamed, squeaked, and was racing away.
- When the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. Here’s an example: That movie trailer, with all its celebrity cameos, is fun to watch. There’s only one trailer, so the verb that coordinates with trailer is the word is.
- When writing a narrative (i.e. a story), be sure you use the same verb tense throughout the entire tale. Don’t switch from He said to He says, in your dialogue tags, for example.
- Avoid using the “&” symbol; instead, write out “and”. Exceptions are made for note-taking and texting.
- Check your writing to see if you have made a common wording error, like writing “should of,” when what you meant to write was, “should have.” Taylor Swift should have bought that pink shirt instead.
- Avoid using double-negatives. For example, avoid phrases like, “don’t have none” or “don’t like nobody.” Instead, say, “don’t have any” or “don’t like anybody”.
- Avoid using double comparatives. For example, say, “Dumbledore is funnier than Mrs. McGonagall,” rather than “Dumbledore is more funnier than Mrs. McGonagall.”
- “An”, rather than “a”, should be used before words which begin with a vowel (for example: an emoticon).
- Check double-subjects (like he and I OR she and Shakira OR you and they). When a pronoun is paired with another subject at the beginning of a sentence, try each pronoun alone to see if it works, like this: In the sentence, “He and Shakira are going to a movie,” does it make more sense to say, “Him is going to a movie?” or “He is going to a movie”? Try both forms of each pronoun to choose which one works. (Note: you need to adjust the verb when you try this sometimes, as the example shows.)
- When talking about objects, we use that. When talking about people, we use who. For example, it’s correct to say, Beowulf and the Pied Piper are characters who have leading roles in narrative poems. It would be incorrect to say Beowulf and the Pied Piper are characters that have leading roles in narrative poems.