Your essay editing or dissertation writing wouldn’t be complete without a look at grammar.  Many students are now showing an interest in grammar. Internet use and text speak have eroded the way we use language and it has got to the point where sometimes we don’t have any idea about correct usage.  Students also feel confused over whether they should be using American English or British English for their UK essays.  The popularity of authors like David Crystal and Lynne Truss shows that many people care about good language use and want to feel confident about their writing.

Essay question: Why bother with grammar?

Grammar helps us communicate effectively. Without grammar our sentences would become random collections of words.  Grammar saves us time. The meaning of a grammatical sentence should be clear immediately.

Learning about grammar gives you the edge!  Lecturers and tutors can make errors with grammar too, so it’s helpful to teach yourself grammar so that you will be able to give them sources if they claim you are wrong when you know you are right!  Handle this with care of course.  If you’re pointing out their mistakes you need to do it gently.  Be polite and support your claims with references to grammar books.  They can’t take offence when you are giving a reference to a source.

Grammar for essays: Where to start

Traditionally grammar books were dry lists of rules, but there are plenty of good books available on grammar these days.  Some are written in easily accessible language, like Christine Sinclair’s “Grammar: A Friendly Approach”, which begins with a helpful table of key items to focus on (nouns, verbs, adverbs, and so on) and sentence structure.

However, as you improve your grammar and punctuation you will begin to learn that there are controversies about grammar use even amongst academics.  Lynne Truss’s book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” is a bestseller, but it does have its critics.  Scholars can argue for hours about the use of the serial comma.  The fact that there are differences in opinion over grammar shouldn’t worry you though.  As a university student you are learning how to test data and come to your own conclusions.  Grammar is just another arena where you will be practicing these essential essay writing skills.

Students tend to make the same mistakes over and over.  It’s worth finding out what these are by looking at essay examples or sample dissertations and then making sure that you don’t make the same errors in your work.  We try as much as possible to cover the common mistakes in our blogs, but please let us know if there is something in particular that you are struggling with.  Post any comments about grammar for your UK essays below.