Writing Tips: Grammar Basics

Welcome back to my blog! I can't believe it's already September. How was everyone's summer?

Today, we will be talking about one of the essential parts of writing: grammar. This may not be everyone's favourite subject, but it is quite important.

In this post, I will be addressing the most common grammar mistakes that I see in amateur writing.

1) Homophones

What is a homophone? According to Merriam-Webster, it is "one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (such as the words to, too, and two)." Please check before you use a word to make sure it is spelled correctly!

Commonly misused homophones:



sneak peak --> sneak peek

A peak refers to a mountain peak or the highest point, while a peek is a glance or a look.

And many more!

2) Apostrophes, Contractions, & Possessives

The most common mistakes I see are:




Let's break these down.

"Your" is a possessive pronoun of "you." E.g., "You left your bag here." But "you're" is a contraction of "you" and "are." E.g., "You're never going to make it."

"They're" is a contraction meaning, "they are." E.g., "They're driving here."

"Their" is a possessive pronoun of the plural pronoun, "they". E.g., "They broke their phones."

"There" is an adverb describing where something takes place. E.g., "Let's go there for dinner."

"It's" is a contraction of "it" and "is." E.g., "It's not my fault."

"Its" is a possessive of the word "it." E.g., "The window was broken, its shards slicing me open."

3) Dialogue Formatting

Examples of improperly formatted dialogue with corrections:

a) "Hello." She said. --> "Hello," she said.

b) "You're crazy," he rolled his eyes. --> "You're crazy." He rolled his eyes.

c) "I hate you" she exclaimed. --> "I hate you!" she exclaimed.

d) "You're the worst". He shouted. --> "You're the worst," he shouted.

e) "Can you believe" She said "that he would do this?" --> Can you believe," she said, "that he would do this?"

Can you tell what's wrong with these examples?

a) "she said" is a dialogue tag, so it shouldn't be capitalized unless it's using a proper noun (like someone's name).

b) "He rolled his eyes" is not a dialogue tag. It's an action. Thus, it should be a separate sentence.

c) and d) You need punctuation within the quotation marks, whether that be a period, question mark, exclamation mark, or a comma.

e) When splitting up dialogue with a dialogue tag, keep the dialogue tag and following clause uncapitalized.

4) Active vs. Passive Voice

Active voice is when the subject of a sentence is doing the action. E.g., "He reached the target." In this case, the subject, "he," is doing the action of reaching.

Passive voice is when the subject is being acted upon. E.g., "the target was reached by him." In this sentence, the subject, "the target," is being reached. "By him" is a phrase that lets you know the agent (the person doing the action).

You can use either passive or active voice. Often, passive voice is used to disguise who is doing the action. For academic writing, active voice can be encouraged because it is more concise. In literary writing, the use of passive or active voice can be left up to the author's discretion.

I hope this post helped you with your writing journey! Drop a comment and let me know what else you want to see.

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