Guides to Better Essay Writing: Basic Grammar Rules Students Always Forget

Students hate writing essays because they spend too much time writing and proofreading the text, yet still make many mistakes. To express your thoughts easily, you must know basic grammar rules. The most important rules to remember are listed below. Nevertheless, do not hesitate to use a writing manual or a dictionary in case you have troubles.

  1. Avoid passive voice and use active verbs: In English, it is strongly recommended to write the subject, followed by the verb, and then an object. The latter is the receiver of the action. This simple formula is the easiest way to compose a sentence in the English language.
  2. Use FANBOYS coordinating conjunctions: In many cases, it is better to link two or three ideas together. Therefore, you need to choose among one of the coordinating conjunctions; namely for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.
  3. Do not forget about basic punctuation rules: When you use FANBOYS, you link several ideas in one sentence. However, keep in mind that you need to use commas.
  4. Write the lists properly: Commas should separate each unit in a list. The last comma before “and” is called the serial or Oxford comma. Sometimes, it makes sense to use bullet points to make your text more reader-friendly.
  5. Join two ideas with a semicolon: Many students avoid using semicolons because they do not know the rule; however, the rule is easy to apply. When the ideas can be part of a single sentence, e.g. they are closely connected and you do not use a coordinating conjunction, you should use a semicolon.
  6. Use the right tenses for actions: In English, it seems complicated to choose the right tense. However, there are simple rules that work out. First, use the simple present tense for actions that happen every day or regularly. Second, when you write about a current action, you should use the present progressive tense. Do not forget to add “-ed” to verbs when you describe an action that took place in the past; memorize the tricky irregular words and keep them in mind. If the past action is unfinished, you have to use present perfect. When you list actions that happened in the past and one of them happened first, you need to indicate it by force of past perfect.
  7. Buy a dictionary: The language is complicated and there are many exceptions, so it is a good idea to buy a dictionary and use it when needed.