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Editing and proof-reading: grammar checklist


Grammar checklist - editing and proofreading

Text Version


Examples and comments

Subject-verb agreement

  • Do subjects and their verbs agree in number, particularly when a long or complex subject precedes the main verb?


  • The lecturer, as well as some of the tutors, are planning a test.


  • The lecturer, as well as some of the tutors, is planning a test.


  • Are your verb tenses consistent?
  • Is there a logical reason for you to change the tense?
  • The present tense is used for stating main points, stating a scientific fact, reporting the position of a writer, and for making your own statements.
  • The past tense is used to report or describe the contents, findings or conclusions of past research or events. Using past simple would suggest that a writer's research is not currently accepted.

Sentence fragments

  • Have you used complete sentences?
  • Sentence fragments lack a subject, a verb or both.

Run-on sentences

  • Have you divided run-on sentences into two by using either a full stop or a semi colon?


  • We can see changes but not learning itself, the concept is theoretical and hence not directly observable.


  • We can see changes but not learning itself; the concept is theoretical and hence not directly observable.

Articles (a/an/the/zero article)

  • Is the noun countable or uncountable, specific or general?
  • Does the noun require an article, and if so, which one?
  • Normally, uncountable nouns cannot be pluralised in English: e.g. information, evidence, advice, knowledge, public.
  • A specific countable noun normally requires 'the', while a non-specific one (one of many, not a particular one) would take 'a'.


  • In Australia, a bill can only become a new law if it is passed by a majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Parallel structures

  • Are components of your sentence grammatically equal? Are elements of your sentence, lists for example, made up of the same kinds of structures?


  • The following actions were taken: advertising the product, improve quality control and bring the retail price down.


  • The following actions were taken: advertising the product, improving quality control and bringing the retail price down.

Logical connectors

  • Have you over-used or under-used linking words?
  • Do they provide clear links between sentences and paragraphs?
  • For example, however, although, thus, as a result of, in comparison are some common linking words.


  • Do pronouns refer clearly to an antecedent?
  • If you leave the book on the table, you can take it after the class. Does the it refer to the table or the book?


  • Have you used apostrophes correctly?
  • Apostrophes show possession. For example: The company's after-tax profit fell in the second quarter of 2006.
  • Contractions like it's and won't are rarely used in academic writing.

Spelling and capitalisation

  • Have you spelt the same word in the same (correct) way throughout? E.g. targeted, operationalise, honour.
  • Have you used capital letters consistently?
  • Use the spellcheck on your computer, but be warned: it will not find everything, and it will give you American spelling unless you set it to UK or Australian spelling.