By Giselle D’sa, MA, English Literature, University of Mumbai
Whether you’re writing a report on antibiotics of the future or chemical processes related to climate change or the history of marriage, following the rules of English grammar is important. Doing this will help you deliver a clear message and render your text well written. This task is not an easy one for non-native speakers of English, as the rules are varied, complex, and sometimes contradictory.
An English grammar check service can help you identify and resolve grammatical errors in your text and provide further possible solutions for improving the overall language. To ensure that the content of your manuscript is not undermined by poor language, it’s important that your text is grammatically correct before you put it to its intended use.
Here are our top grammar tips to keep in mind when writing a report:
Article usage: English has two types of articles: definite (the) and indefinite (a/an). Use the definite article with specific nouns and the indefinite article with non-specific nouns. Remember that for indefinite articles, the sound that begins the word following the article determines whether you use ‘a’ or ‘an’. Use ‘a’ for consonant sounds (a tree) and ‘an’ for vowel sounds (an owl). Be sure to go by the sound and not the spelling. So, it’s a unicorn (begins with a consonant sound) and an hour (begins with a vowel sound).
The definite article is used in other ways apart from modifying specific nouns, for example with superlatives (You are the smartest person in this group.), with ordinal numbers (I am the fifth child.), and with geographical areas (The Nile is a long river.).
Subject-verb agreement: Because the subject of a sentence is doing/being something, the verb of the sentence needs to agree in number with the subject. Example: Mary (singular subject) plays (singular verb) the piano. Further, if there are two or more singular subjects doing the same verb, the verb should be plural. Example: Mary (singular subject) and Jane (singular subject) play (plural verb) the piano. If, however, singular subjects are connected by or or nor, the verb is singular. (Either Mary or Jane is writing the article; Neither Mary nor Jane is writing the article.) Another point to note is that collective nouns take singular verbs (The family is immigrating to Canada.).
Pronoun usage: A pronoun is used in place of a noun or another pronoun. What you need to remember is that a pronoun generally refers to an antecedent, that is, the noun it is replacing. Pronouns without clear antecedents can be highly vexing to the reader. Take for example this sentence: Mary talked to Jane after her piano lesson. Because both individuals have female names, the pronoun her does not have a clear antecedent, leaving the reader confused about which of them had the lesson. Here are a couple of ways to resolve this:
After Jane’s piano lesson, Mary talked to her.
Mary talked to Jane after the latter’s piano lesson.
Preposition usage: A preposition indicates the relationship between two or more people, places, or things. Many prepositions have several definitions so be careful to consider the context when picking the proposition. For example, let’s take the preposition at. Here are some ways in which this word can be used:
Mary and Jane are at the party.
Tina is good at tennis.
They balked at the offer.
Water boils at 100 °C.
At 12, she was the youngest person in her class.
As such, there aren’t specific rules on preposition usage, so refer to a dictionary if you’re unsure of which one to use—they often have good examples. The best way to learn is to read well-written texts. We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful. To ensure that your report is completely free of grammatical errors, use an English grammar checker. Happy writing!
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