Let’s face it. We live in a culture that can’t communicate effectively. Texting eliminates the need to write sentences, and quick emails are often sent without regard to proper spelling and grammar. Gone are the days of long, elegant letters and Spenserian handwriting. No, we prefer to write cryptic phrases such as, “LOL!” and “u r my bff.”
Homeschooling moms, don’t give up; it is possible to teach your children proper communication skills! Need a few hints to help your child correct their writing projects and convey messages in a clear manner? Let’s look at a few examples of common writing errors in the following sentences:
“…and I ran into Jane and Tony yesterday. You remember visiting there house a while back? Well, Jane said their building on some additions to the house this year.”
“They were going to hire a realator, but decided to sell the house themselves.”
“We cannot reach the city before dark, it is already half past seven.”
Homophones, extra syllables, a comma splice; how many mistakes can you spot in the three sentences above? In the first sentence, the words there and there are used incorrectly. Younger children will often interchange the words, but each word has a very different meaning. There refers to a location and their specifies an object that belongs to Jane and Tony. Have your child rephrase the sentences, and they should look similar to this phrase:
“…and I ran into Jane and Tony yesterday. Do you remember visiting their house a while back? Well, Jane told me that they’re (or they are) building on some additions to the house this year.”
The second sentence example given features a word that doesn’t exist: realator. Do you find yourself adding or removing letters and syllables in a word? Some common examples of this problem are mischievous (mischievious?), arctic (artic?), mayonnaise (what, exactly, is mannaise?) and jewelry (not jewlery). When in doubt, look it up.
How about that third sentence? Let’s glance over it again: “We cannot reach the city before dark; it is already half past seven.” There are, in fact, two separate ideas being expressed here. The first one is a statement being made by one who cannot reach the city before dark, and the second statement declares the time. This is a common error, called a comma splice. There must be a better way of expressing those two thoughts without throwing them together into a haphazard sentence.
You have a couple of options to improve your sentence. If you are adventurous, insert a semicolon between the words dark and it. The sentence would look something like this: “We cannot reach the city before dark; it is already half past seven.”
Your second option is to make those two thoughts into two different sentences altogether. “We cannot reach the city before dark. It is already half past seven.”
That’s really all there is to analyzing and choosing better sentences, in order to communicate effectively. But wait, you ask; I frequently write blog articles, essays for school, etc. and I don’t have the time to proofread everything I write. Never fear; there are many tools available to you online. One of my favorite tools is Grammarly, a very simple-to-use grammar proofreader and personal grammar coach. Not only does Grammarly analyze your text for punctuation, it checks errors in spelling, has suggestions for your writing style, looks for plagiarism and enhances your vocabulary.
Happy sentence-building with the grammarly checker!