In today’s day and age, we’re constantly reminded of famous names that have made a difference in the world. Heck, we can’t even search through Google without being bombarded with Google Doodles of famous scientists, writers, humanitarians, or those who have just made a name for themselves for being pretty darn awesome. Most of these famous faces did so by using their intelligence and their smarts – which can be pretty disheartening if you lack a little in that department. But never fear! You can master these 7 grammar tips if you want to sound smarter, and you never know… you could be the next Google Doodle.
If you’re a natural bookworm, you probably don’t need to be told this twice. After all, your room is probably scattered with books that you can whizz through in a day. Yet, if you’ve only ever read Captain Underpants during your few decades on this earth, you might want to up the ante. Once you start reading more often, you will become more familiar with words, spelling, and grammar, which will ultimately help you write better in the future.
Remember your homophones
No, this is not the instrument you tried to play once when you were 12 years old. Instead, homophones are words that sound exactly the same – but are spelled differently. We know, it doesn’t really make sense, but they’re pretty important. Knowing the distinction between the likes of “you’re/your,” “write/right,” “there/their/they’re” and “its/it’s” is one of the best ways to make you sound smarter, and they’re also pretty cool to know.
Remember your first-person singular pronouns
When you’re writing or speaking a sentence, it’s important that you remember the distinctions between first-person singular pronouns. This means knowing the difference between using “me” in a sentence, which is a subject pronoun, and using “I” in a sentence, which is an object pronoun. One of the best ways to figure out this conundrum is to remove any extra subjects from the story. For example, if you wanted to say “My mother and I/me went to the mall” you’d need to work out whether saying “I went to the mall” or “Me went to the mall” was correct. Of course, it’s the former.
Learn when to use commas
Ohhhh, this ol’ chestnut! Commas divide the world of linguistics – especially when it comes to the Oxford Comma debate. Yet, despite these inconsistencies, there are still general rules of thumb when it comes to this type of punctuation. Commas are always needed to separate two independent clauses when they are joined together by conjunctions (“but,” “or,” “and”). They are also used within lists.
Make sure you don’t leave a dangling modifier
Nobody wants a dangling modifier. Luckily, we didn’t just write one because “nobody” was the subject! This is because a dangling modifier is a sentence that doesn’t feature a clear and concise subject within its words. If there is an action within the sentence, the reader needs to know who is behind the action and who has or will be doing the action. If there isn’t one, it’s left dangling there like a limp fish.
Keep it active
There are two kinds of sentences in the world; active and passive sentences. Passive sentences feature a subject of the sentence – but that subject is also the subject of the action. For example, “The hamburger was eaten by the boy.” In an active sentence, the action is performed by the subject and would look more like this: “The boy ate the hamburger.” To avoid mistakes and grammatical errors, it’s best to keep your sentences in active mode.
Read your writing aloud
Reading back over your writing is one of the best ways to ensure that your grammar is perfect and that your writing makes sense. Rather than reading it in your head, try reading it aloud. This way, you can determine whether you need to add any more commas to break up the sentences, whether it makes sense, and whether it flows as a piece of writing. You might feel a little silly, but it’s so worth it!
If you’re looking to make yourself sound smart, your first step is to make sure you have all of the basic grammar rules ingrained into your mind. Give it a go!