Editing and proofreading: 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.