Tutor's Tips

  • If your instructors and peers who read your paper often add in a lot of commas, but you’re unsure exactly where they go, try reading sentences out loud and noting where you automatically pause.  Chances are a comma goes there.
  • Try “glossing” - writing the topic of each paragraph in the margin alongside it.  Each paragraph should have only one main topic, and should transition logically into the next paragraph
  • Don’t rely on your computer program’s spelling or grammar check!  Your computer may automatically change a word’s spelling when you had it right, or it may offer you several words that are spelled similarly but have radically different meanings.  Grammar check is even worse!  Many of the sentences it marks wrong may be correct, and many of the “correct” options it gives you are illogical or just plain wrong.  Neither grammar nor spell check is a replacement for proofreading your own work.
  • Many students are confused by the various forms of there/their/they’re.
    • There is an adverb specifying place or location.
      Example: The books are over there on the table.
    • Their is a possessive pronoun signifying something belongs to more than one person.
      Example: Mark and Eric washed their cars in the driveway.
    • They’re is a contraction of they are.
      Example: They’re going swimming today.
    • Talking about a location?  Use there.
    • Talking about something that belongs to someone?  Use their.
    • Will the sentence make sense if you use “they are”?  Use they’re.
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