Simple Guide to Grammar and Punctuation Part 2

Simple Writing Tips to Help you Become a Better Writer

In this part of the "Simple Guide to Grammar" I'm going to show you how to use the following:
  1. Writing Errors: How to use nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives
  2. Writing Errors: How to use adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections
  3. Parentheses, acronyms and abbreviations how to use them
  4. Em Dash how to use it
Writing Errors: How to use nouns, verbs, pronouns and adjectives

There are eight different parts to speech in the English language.  When you start to grasp these different parts you can start to understand how sentences are joined together, making them readable and enabling you to punctuate any sentence.

These eight parts consist of nouns, verbs, pronouns, and adjectives.


You can define a noun as person, place or thing.  With the exception for example of love, which isn't a concrete thing that can't be seen or held, but plainly exists, so this is also a noun.

You can divide nouns into two categories: common and proper nouns.  A proper noun is the name of a person or place that is capitalised (Plymouth College, Rachel Smith, etc.).  A common noun is a name that isn't capitalised (school, chair, book, etc.).


A verb can describe an action or state of being.  It's important to understand that verbs are not only action verbs: walk, run, jump, play, sing etc.

They can also be linking verbs, which don't express action, but instead express classification, identity or existence (Common linking verbs are is, am, was, were and verb phrases which end in being, be, been).


You can use a pronoun, to replace a noun.  For example, you could say "Peter likes pie" you can substitute Peter with "He".  Writers should only use a pronoun after a noun has been used first because it needs to be clear which noun the pronoun is replacing.


An adjective is used to change a noun or pronoun.  Basically it provides more information about a place, thing or person.  For example, in the sentence Harry is tall, skinny man, tall and skinny are the adjectives used to describe Harry.

Writing Error: How to use adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections


Very similar to an adjective, an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective or any other adverb.  In this example Lucy ran quickly towards the fence, because the word quickly describes how she ran.


The relationship between a noun or pronoun can be described with a preposition.  This relationship is usually directional, temporal or spatial.  As an example John walked towards the gate, the word towards is the preposition showing direction.  When pronouns, prepositions and nouns are linked together they create word groups, which are referred to as prepositional phrases.  In the preceding example, towards the gate is a prepositional phrase.


You can link words or parts of sentences together with a conjunction.  There are four contrasting types of conjunction: Correlative, adverb, subordinating and coordinating.
  • Correlative conjunctions combine a coordinating conjunction with another word (e.g: In the sentence both Peter and I are having a difficult time with the homework, both... and are the correlative conjunctions.)
  • Conjunctive adverbs are erratic words used to connect one sentence to another.  Ordinary conjunctive verbs include in addition, additionally, also, moreover, consequently, also, furthermore, instead, otherwise, for example, for instance, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, conversely, accordingly, therefore, generally, in other words, in fact, in conclusion and finally.#
  • Subordinating conjunctions start at the beginning of subordinate clauses and are usually used to connect the subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence (furthermore can be referred to as the independent clause).  Natural subordinating conjunctions can include although, as, after, before, because, even though, once, if, rather than, that, since, though, until, unless, whenever, when, while, whereas.
  • Coordinating conjunctions you can connect similar words or independent clauses (sentences) together with for, and, or, yet, so. FANBOYS is the acronym often referred to for coordinating conjunctions.

A word added to a sentence to convey emotion and not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence, this is an interjection.  You can use them as a single word sentence (e.g. Wow!).  Seldom used in academic writing, their use should be avoided.

Parentheses, acronyms and abbreviations how to use them

Consistently used in pairs, parentheses, allow a writer to provide additional information.  This might include a fragment, a single word, or multiple complete sentences.

The material inside the parentheses does not need to be grammatically integral to the surrounding sentence.  If the material is changed the sentence must be amended.  You can avoid this by reading your sentence without parenthetical content.  If it feels right the parentheses are acceptable, if not, the punctuation must be changed.

Incorrect: The prime minister (and his secretary) were expected to arrive by 11.00 a.m.

Correct: The Prime Minister (and his secretary) travelled by private jet.

Arrangement of other punctuation

When the closing punctuation mark for the sentence is placed inside the closing parentheses, the sentence stands on its own.


The idea that theoretical physics can be taught without reference to complex mathematics is patently absurd. (But don't tell that to the publishers of such mathematics-free books - or the people who buy them).

In a larger sentence parenthetical content occurs at the end and the closing punctuation mark for the sentence is placed outside the closing parenthesis.


After four weeks on set, the cast was fed up with his direction (or, rather, lack of direction).

In a larger sentence parenthetical content occurs in the middle and the surrounding punctuation should be placed outside the parentheses, as it would be if the parenthetical content were not there.


We verified his law degree (Harvard, class of 2010), but his work history remains unconfirmed.

When parentheses occurs in the middle of a larger sentence, it should never be capitalised or end with a period - nevertheless a question mark or exclamation point is acceptable.


We verified his law degree (none of us thought he was lying about that) but not his billion-dollar verdict against Exxon (how gullible did he think we were?).

Abbreviations and acronyms

When you first use an abbreviation or acronym the full term can be provided in parentheses.


Harry Gardner has been appointed CKO (chief knowledge officer) of the merged company.

An acronym or abbreviation, on reverse, can be provided in parentheses upon its first use, and then used in place of full term in the remainder of the document


In conducting the study, researchers relied on position emission tomography (PET) and, to a lesser extent, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Em dash how to use it

It's not hard to understand why most writers love using em dashes, like most tools they're unique.

The difference between em dash and en dash

Em dashes differ in appearance, mostly because its named after its length-about the same length as a capital M.  En dash its alphabetical cousin is about the same width as the capital N.


When most other punctuation seems awkward, em dash saves the day.  For example, em dashes can replace parentheses at the end of a sentence, or when multiple commas appear in a parenthetical sentence.


After a split second of hesitation, the goal keeper leaped for the ball (or, rather; limped for it).

After a split second of hesitation, the goal keeper leaped for the ball-or; rather; limped for it.

Read More About Writing: Simple Guide to Grammar and Punctuation Part 1

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