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Helpful Grammar Hints

Do not let some very common writing pitfalls damage the quality or the intent of your writing.

  • Tense: You must choose a tense (past, present or future) that is appropriate to your paper and then attempt to stay within that tense and avoid jumping from one tense to another. After you have written your first draft, go back through your paper and check the verb tenses to make sure you are being consistent.

  • Voice: The active voice should be used as much as possible. Failing to use active voice is common problem for many writers of the English language.
    • For example, instead of writing, “Among the many books that were written by L’udovit Stur before the revolutions…” you should write, “Among the many books L’udovit Stur wrote…” The difference may be subtle but the more active your writing is, the more forceful your arguments will be.

  • Pronoun Usage and Pronoun Reference: English pronouns are not declined as they are in other languages. Consequently, you must exercise care when using indefinite pronouns (this, that, it) or personal (he, she, they) pronouns in a clause or sentence. Make sure the reader knows what each pronoun refers to.
    • For example: “The French Revolution led to the development of the modern national states of Europe. This was the most important event…” The reader, unfortunately, is left wondering if the Revolution or if the development of the nation-state was the most important event since the pronoun “this” COULD refer to either one. One of the easiest ways for you to avoid this problem is to avoid using pronouns as the subject of a sentence as much as possible.