Before you submit your paper, check these things. Read through your paper and make sure your nouns are singular and plural in the right places. Sometimes the sentences may be grammatically correct (and not caught by spell check), but they may not mean what you intended. Example: Sarah raised her hands to ask the teacher a question. Explanation: Sarah might have raised both hands, but it is more common for a person to raise one hand to ask a question. The writer should revisit this line and make sure he or she really meant both hands and not just one. Make sure you are using past tense when talking about past events, present tense for present actions and future tense for things that will happen in the future. Wrong: Next Tuesday, I have turned in my essay. Right: Next Tuesday, I will turn in my essay. Or: Next Tuesday, I will have turned in my essay. Make sure your verbs match the nouns doing the actions in person and number. Wrong: My brothers is very tall. Right: My brothers are very tall. Or: My brother is very tall. Make sure your pronouns match their nouns. Wrong: A person should take their hat off when indoors. Right: A person should take his or her hat off when indoors. Or: People should take their hats off when indoors. Their and them are plural pronouns. Make sure the noun these pronouns refer to is plural too. Demonstrative pronouns are that, these, and those. Pay attention to how far away the object is and whether there is more than one object when using demonstrative pronouns. This cat (singular, close to the speaker) That cat (singular, farther from the speaker) These cats (plural, close to the speaker) Those cats (plural, farther from the speaker) Many words or phrases are grammatically correct English, but because they are informal, they cannot be used in a paper. Here are some examples. A lot of, lots of Really (when used in place of very) Kind of (when used to mean somewhat) Okay A contraction is a word made from two words, in which one of more letters is left out and replaced with an apostrophe. Contractions are very common in spoken English, but many professors want their students to avoid contractions in their papers. Examples: don’t (do not) should’ve (should have) can’t (cannot) I’m (I am) Stock phrases, called clichés, are common in speech. Learning these phrases is an important part of learning English. While it is acceptable to say these phrases, do not use clichés for formal writing. Instead, write what you are trying to say in your own phrasing. Some examples: Dead as a doornail The cat’s meow Between a rock and a hard place The person of a sentence refers to who does the action. When the writer of the sentence is doing the action, this is called first person. First person uses words like I and we. In second person the reader does the action. Second person uses words like you and your. In third person an outside person or thing separate from the writer or reader does the action. Third person uses he, she, it, and they. Third person is the most common mode for formal writing. It can be acceptable to use first person (I or we) if your assignment allows it or requires it. You may also have reflective portions of the assignment when you give your opinions or detail your own experience. First person is appropriate there. Don’t use first person when you are supposed to be analyzing information. Second person is almost always unacceptable for academic writing.