Tutor: Of course, in an academic paper, your grammar has to be correct!
Student: Yes, I know, and I’ve studied English grammar! But sometimes when I’m writing, I just forget. I don’t have time to study all the rules when I write a paper!
Tutor: Of course not. But you can develop a system to focus on just those areas that give you problems.
Student: How is that?
Tutor: One good system is to keep a grammar journal.
Student: A grammar journal sounds complicated!
Tutor: It’s actually quite simple. Over time, your grammar journal will help you focus on the types of errors that you make in your own writing. This should make you more aware of your errors.
Here is a demonstration of what a grammar journal looks like.
Slide 3 — Grammar Journal
Right now you might have an instructor or guide to help you with your writing, but what will you do when the course is over?
You may not always have someone to correct your writing, so it is a good idea to develop the ability to edit your own work.
You might consider starting a grammar journal as a way of creating your own personal editing guide.
Let’s get started.
If you write your journal by hand, you can keep it in a notebook.
Any type of notebook is OK, but you might want to get one with 3 or 4 rings so that you can add pages.
If you write in your journal on the computer, you can put the information in a Word document or spreadsheet file.
When your instructor or classmate points out a mistake in your writing, make a note of it in your journal.
Date: May 4, 2011
Incorrect: Tom is in home. (This line has the error.)
Write the correction on the next line.
Correct: Tom is at home.
What grammar rule is the basis for the correction? In other words, how can you explain it?
If you don’t know the answer, ask your instructor or look it up.
Reason: Use “at” with “home”
Use the same process for each mistake.
Date: May 7, 2011
Incorrect: He speaks very well English.
Correct: He speaks English very well.
Reason: Don’t separate verb and direct object.
With time and practice, you will notice the patterns of your mistakes. You will become more aware of your own particular problems with writing in English. This may help you to avoid the mistakes.
Student: Oh, I get it. A grammar journal might help me avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Tutor: That’s it! Follow this link for a form that can help you get started with your own grammar journal.
Slide 14 — Grammar Journal Templates
Tutor: Once you have set up your grammar journal, you can go back and check your paper to see if you have made the same types of errors.
Student: Can you give me an example?
Tutor: OK, suppose that one of your common errors is subject-verb agreement.
The people is here.
The people are here.
If your grammar journal shows that you often make this error, then go back and check each sentence in your paper to make sure that all subjects and verbs agree. Repeat this process for all the types of errors that you make again and again.
Student: That makes sense.
Student: Now that I have gone through all these steps in editing and polishing my paper, am I finished?
Tutor: You’re almost at the end, but not quite. Please click on Format on the left for the last step.