Trying to learn how to check a sentence for grammar? Then, read our guide with nine helpful tips to upgrade your writing!
English writing requires good grammar, and even the best writers will struggle from time to time with grammar mistakes. If you are going to enter the world of bloggers or copywriters, you must know how to write without errors. Thankfully, you can utilize many free grammar checker programs, but you also need to know how to check grammar for yourself. The first step in writing without grammar errors is knowing how to check each sentence for issues. Then, if you can get the individual sentences right, you can create paragraphs and total pieces that are accurate.
Are you wondering how to check a sentence for grammar mistakes? While you can use a grammar-checking writing tool or writing assistant in our word processor to help, you should be able to tackle some of this work on your own. This guide provides several things you can look at to determine if your sentences are error-free.
1. Look for Spelling Errors
Spelling mistakes are common problems for English writers, so the first thing to check your sentence for grammar is to ensure all the words are spelled correctly. Next, don’t forget to check for homophones, which are words that are spelled differently and have different meanings but the same pronunciation. There, their and they’re are commonly misused homophones. Fix all spelling issues and typos to make the sentence grammatically correct, a spell check software can help, but always read the sentence yourself. Even the best artificial intelligence may not catch all misspelled words.
2. Check Subject Verb Agreement
Your sentence subject and the verb must agree in number. Plural subjects require plural verbs, and singular subjects require singular verbs. While this grammar issue is usually apparent, some situations are more complex. For example, if you have a compound subject combined with the conjunction “or” or “nor,” you do not necessarily have a plural subject. Instead, you choose the number of the subject that comes after the conjunction, as in this example:
- Neither the dogs nor the cat comes when called.
In this sentence, the verb “comes” must agree with the singular subject “cat,” even though the actual subject is both “dogs” and “cat.” However, if you join them with the conjunction “and,” they take a plural verb. For example:
- Both the dogs and the cat come when called.
3. Avoid Run-On Sentences
Another common problem in English grammar is the run-on sentence. A run-on sentence combines two or more sentences into one without the proper punctuation or separation. This is an example of a run-on:
- The English language is challenging to learn. Many people struggle with grammar rules.
These are two seperate sentences:
- The English language is challenging to learn.
- Many people struggle with grammar rules.
If you wish to put them together, there are multiple ways to combine them. These include:
- Separating with a semicolon: The English language is challenging to learn; Many people struggle with the grammar rules.
- Separating with a comma and conjunction: The English language is challenging to learn, and many people struggle with grammar rules.
- Separating with a subordinating conjunction and no comma: The English language is challenging to learn because many people struggle with grammar rules.
Do not simply use a comma to combine these two sentences. This grammar error is called a comma splice. Here is what it would look like:
- The English language is challenging to learn many people struggle with grammar rules.
4. Get Rid of Fragments
Unless you are writing fiction and dialogue, fragments are never appropriate. Fragments are incomplete sentences punctuated as if they are sentences. A complete sentence must have a subject, verb, and whole idea. Sometimes, a clause can look like a complete sentence, but it is not due to a lack of complete thought. For instance:
- Because they were going to the store.
Other fragments are issues because they do not contain a subject or a verb.
- Going to the store.
- The happy, generous family.
All of these should have a fix:
- The happy, generous family was excited to go to the store.
5. Remove Passive Voice
Professional writers know that passive voice is rarely preferred in English writing. While using the passive voice is not technically a grammar mistake, it does make the sentence less effective, so you should learn to spot and fix it when possible. In a sentence using passive voice, the target of the action becomes the subject. This makes the subject passive, as in this sentence:
- The whole class made the mistake.
In this sentence, the subject “mistake” is being acted upon. The verb pattern is a “to be” ver and the past participle of the primary verb. To change this to active voice, switch the sentence to read:
- The whole class made a mistake.
This sentence structure is more direct and makes it clear what is happening. While there are instances when the passive voice makes sense, in general, it is a less powerful writing style, and you should remove it when you can.
6. Watch for Common Punctuation Mistakes
A misplaced apostrophe or missing comma will derail your goal of making an error-free piece. Some common punctuation errors that you might find in your writing include:
- An apostrophe in the wrong place: Apostrophes show possession or stand in for missing letters in contractions, and that is all.
- Poor quotation mark placement: Quotation marks set off quotes, punctuate titles of articles and movies, show that a word is slang, or indicate sarcasm.
- Misplaced periods: Periods go inside the quotation marks at the end of a sentence.
- Improper comma usage: Use commas to separate independent clauses, introductory clauses, nonessential descriptions, direct addresses, or items in a series.
7. Address Parallel Structure
Many potential grammatical errors have less to do with specific grammar rules and more with word choice concerns. Using parallel structure is one example of this. You must use a parallel structure in a sentence where you list items. This means that the parts will match each other in form. For example:
- The manager is likable, motivated, and a good leader.
This does not have a parallel structure because “likable” and “motivated” are both adjectives, but “a good leader” is a noun phrase. Rewrite it to say:
- The manager is likable, motivated, and inspiring.
- The manager is a good leader because he is likable and motivated.
- The manager is a likable person, a motivated worker, and a good leader.
All of these use a parallel structure to convey the same basic idea.
8. Find Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Issues
Another common grammar mistake writers will make poor pronoun-antecedent agreement. A pronoun takes the place of another noun in the sentence or paragraph, and it must agree in number. For singular antecedents, it also must agree in gender. Here is an example:
- Schools must provide good education to its students.
In this sentence, the pronoun refers to “schools.” Thus, it should be plural, but the writer used the singular form. Fix this by writing:
- Schools must provide good education to their students.
9. Use a Grammar Checking Program
Finally, use a grammar check program such as Grammarly to help you look for additional errors or style issues you overlooked. The best grammar checker will have spell checking, punctuation checking and grammar checking to catch all grammatical mistakes in your sentence.
An excellent online grammar check program will also provide suggested corrections for the errors it finds. Do not rely solely on your free online grammar check program to check your grammar issues. Remember, grammar corrector programs use artificial intelligence and may not always catch errors. If you absolutely must have correct grammar, use a grammar-checking program and your editing abilities to make the sentence error-free.
Grammarly is one of our top grammar checkers. Find out why in this Grammarly review.
For more, check out our roundup of the best grammar checkers.
Join over 15,000 writers today
Get a FREE book of writing prompts and learn how to make more money from your writing.