Rhetoric and Composition/Grammar and Mechanics
- What is Grammar?
- What is Mechanics?
- Know your patterns
- Mixing up words that sound alike
- When subjects and verbs don't agree
- When pronouns and antecedents don't agree
- When subject and object pronouns are incorrect
- Missing commas after introductory elements
- Missing commas with compound sentences
- Missing or unnecessary commas with restrictive or non-restrictive elements
- Sentence fragments
- Missing or misplaced apostrophes
- Unnecessary tense shifts
- Run-on or fused sentences
- Comma Splice
- Disruptive commas
- Dangling, misplaced, and squinting modifiers
- Logical Fallacies
Teachers can use the following pages to provide students with information about specific errors in their writing. If the students' papers are graded online, write a short comment and add a link to one of these pages.
When providing feedback to any writer—whether they are a peer or a student, there are a few general rules of thumb. Make comments specific and clear. Instead of simply using words like ‘Good’ and ‘Awkward’ to summarize a comment, try using phrases that directly state what sounds awkward, or which part of the paragraph / sentence sounds good. However, be attune to not smother the students’ paper with writing. This can be detrimental to the students’ psyche and affect their writing process. Try to work with a theme. If a paper has recurring errors in a specific area, address this error once and provide the grammatical rule (if one applies) or provide an example to help the student improve.
For example, in the following sentence a writer is using two different verb tenses within the sentence.
Example: "From outside the building I could hear the opening bands tearing through their sets, and all the way from the sidewalk I felt the beat and vibrations from the drums and bass guitar literally make my rib cage shake"
Example Instructor / Peer Comment: "We have two different verb tenses within this sentence. For clarity you'll want to stick with a single verb tense. I would suggest using something like '...making my rib shake'..."
Inevitably, this type of constructive feedback will require more time with each assignment the person is grading. However, constructive criticism may be the best route to see positive and significant changes within a written work. To speed up the feedback process consider inserting links to websites like the Purdue OWL, St. Cloud State University's Literacy Education Online (LEO) or other online university writing labs. Listed below are different attitudes to consider adopting while providing feedback.
7 Types of Active Feedback
1. Correcting- the removal of errors or mistakes from written work
2. Emoting- to add expression or emotion to a written work
3. Describing- to give an account or convey an idea or impression within writing
4. Suggesting- to offer or propose changes for consideration
5. Questioning- to put a question to, or expressing doubt about an aspect within writing
6. Reminding- to cause a person to remember or to make something aware to the writer
7. Assigning- to designate additional writing for a particular purpose
Editor- Provide feedback mainly on grammar, punctuation, syntax, sentence structure and word choice. This time of feedback is typically time consuming. Requires thorough knowledge of Standard Written English (SWE) in addition to strict adherence to grammar rules. Those who choose to provide editor-type should be wary that the criticism is balanced with praise.
Average Reader- The average reader feedback focuses primarily on what the writer is attempting to communicate. Reading the text as though it were an ordinary magazine or newspaper, the author gains perspective through the reader's reactions to the text. Text reactions include: responding to descriptions, arguments, and examples provided within the paper.
Academic Reader- The academic reader analyzes the text for how well the paper conforms to the standards of academic discourse. A knowledge of academic standards is needed in order to provide feedback as an academic reader.
Coach- A coach is someone who actively facilitates the development of writing. This is perhaps the most complex attitude as it adopts various aspects of the three previous attitudes listed.
- Common Errors in English
- The Elements of Style
- Big Dog's Grammar: A Bare Bones Guide to English
- Darling's Guide to Grammar
- Grammar Bytes!
- The Hypertext Book: Modern English Grammar
- Properly Placed Punctuation
- Punctuation Points
- Grammar Tips from Harvard
- The Owl at Purdue
- Academic Grammar- help students with their academic assignments
- American Heritage Book of English Usage
- University of Texas at Austin Grammar Guides
- Online Bibliography Maker