When you begin to edit, you are moving from focusing on your ideas and essay structure to focusing on the sentences and words of your essay. Now is the time to pay attention to sentence structure and grammar.
Watch this video to learn about the Higher-Order and Lower-Order concerns for revising your essay. The video explains what you should be looking for as you revise, edit, and proofread what you have written. You can also download the Higher-Order and Lower-Order concerns video transcript.
There are three stages to revising your writing: Revision, Editing, and Proofreading. Often these stages can be referred to as Higher-Order and Lower-Order concerns. The Editing stage addresses Lower-Order concerns.
During the Editing stage you should review the structure and grammar of the essay.
Learn about common punctuation marks in the activity or in the text below.
Complete this activity to learn about commas, semi-colons, and colons and when to use them. opens in new window
The type of punctuation mark you use will depend on the sentence you are writing. Use the guidelines below to help you determine when you should use a comma, a semi-colon, or a colon.
An independent clause is a group of words with at least one subject and one verb that can stand alone as its own sentence. A coordinating conjunction is a word (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) that joins two independent clauses. When you are joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, use a comma, followed by the coordinating conjunction.
Memory tip for coordinating conjunctions: To help you remember all the coordinating conjunctions, use the mnemonic FANBOYS which stands for for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
When there are two sentences, a comma alone cannot be used to connect the two sentences, for this would be a comma splice. One can instead use one of the following three options: 1) a period; 2) a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction; 3) a semicolon (if the two sentences/independent clauses are related in meaning).
When three or more items are listed in a series, a comma is placed between the items. Examples:
Remember, for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so are the coordinating conjunctions.
When two or more adjectives are used to describe a noun, put a comma between the adjectives.
Caution: Sometimes, using a comma to separate listed adjectives is not necessary. In order to find out if it is necessary, you should apply these two tests:
If these two tests prove to be successful, use a comma to separate the two adjectives.
Any material that can be left out of the sentence without changing the main idea is nonessential. This information is known as a non-restrictive adjective clause.
There are two ways to separate this non-essential material from the rest of the sentence:
When the non-restrictive adjective clause is in the middle of a sentence, commas should be placed before and after.
If you were to remove ‘who went to Seneca College’, the sentence would still be complete and clear.
When the non-restrictive adjective clause is at the end of a sentence, it should be preceded by a comma and followed by a period.
If you were to remove ‘which you can find in the closet’, the sentence would still be complete and clear.
Transitions are words or phrases that connect the ideas of one sentence to another or one paragraph to another.
When a transitional word (therefore, however, thus, first, second, etc.) or phrase is used, a comma is placed after it.
You can use commas to separate a word or group of words that interrupt the flow of the sentence. Examples:
Some expressions that are generally set off with commas include: however, in fact, at any rate, of course I think, therefore, by the way, finally.
When a direct quotation is used, a comma is placed after the word that declares the direct quotation.
When a direct quotation is before the declaring word, a comma is placed at the end of the quotation within the quotation marks.
A dependent clause is a phrase that cannot stand alone – it needs an independent clause to make sense. Dependent clauses often contain words that indicate time (e.g. From, After, While, When, etc.).
When you write out a date, use a comma to separate the day from the month, and to separate the date from the year.
When you write out an address, use a comma between the street address and the city, and between the city and the province or territory.
The semicolon marks the dividing point in a compound sentence (a sentence made up of two independent clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction).
The semicolon is useful in punctuating major sentence elements which themselves contain commas.
The colon is principally used to introduce a list in conjunction with such words as following or as follows. The colon may only be used after an independent clause.
Learn about prepositions in the activity or in the text below.
Complete this activity to learn how to use prepositions. opens in new window
A preposition connects a noun or a pronoun with other parts of a sentence. It usually indicates direction, location or time.
about, before, down, of, toward, above, below, during, off, under, across, beneath, for, on, until, after, beside, from, onto, up, against, between, in, over, upon, along, beyond, inside, since, with, among, by, into, through, within, around, concerning, like, throughout, without, at, despite, near, to
according to, by way of, in spite of, ahead of, contrary to, in view of, apart from, due to, instead of, as for, in addition to, by means of, as well as, in case of, out of, because of, in place of
A prepositional phrase occurs when a preposition is followed by a noun, with or without an article or a possessive pronoun in between. Prepositional phrases can have three functions: adjectival, adverbial, nominal.
An adjectival prepositional phrase functions as an adjective. It appears after the noun it modifies.
An adverbial propositional phrase functions as an adverb. It has three possible positions in a sentence:
A nominal prepositional phrase functions as a noun. Like a noun, it can be the subject of a sentence (1), the object of the verb (2), or the subject complement (3). Nominal phrases can appear on either side of a verb.
Articles are words that appear before nouns and give us information about the noun that they appear with, such as whether the noun is specific or non-specific. There are three articles that you can choose from: ‘the’, ‘an’, and ‘a’. Most nouns will be accompanied by one of these articles, although some types of nouns do not have an article.
Use the boxes below to determine which article you should use in various situations. You can also download the Tip sheet for Article Use opens in new window for future reference.
Use ‘the’ before the name of a river, ocean, or historical period.
Learn about the parallelism principle in the activity or in the text below.
Complete this activity to learn how to use prepositions. opens in new window
When writing items in a series, you must be sure that all of the items are parallel; that is, the items must be written in the same grammatical form. For example, if the first two verbs in a sentence end in '–ing', the third verb should also end in '–ing'.
Rule: Correct faulty parallelism by giving the same grammatical form to all of the items in a series.
One way to determine whether all the items in a list are parallel is to picture (or actually write) the items in list form, one below the other. That way, you can make sure that all the elements are in the same grammatical form – they are all words, or phrases, or clauses.
Note: Sentences that are not in parallel form sound awkward, and sometimes the meaning is unclear. By making sure that your sentences are in parallel form, your writing will flow better, and your ideas will be clearer.
Consider the following sentence: “Sharon is kind, considerate, and likes to help.” Write the items in list form:
- Likes to help
The last item is not in the same grammatical form as the first two items; therefore, the sentence is not parallel.
Hint: If you read the third item in place of the first item, it does not work – “Sharon is likes to help” is not grammatically correct. However, you can reword the sentence: “Sharon is kind, considerate, and helpful.”
Write the items in list form:
All three items are in the same grammatical form; therefore, the sentence is parallel.
|I support myself by tending bar, playing piano, and shoot pool.||I support myself by tending bar, playing piano, and shooting pool.|
|Her upbringing made her neat, polite, and an obnoxious person.||Her upbringing made her neat, polite, and obnoxious.|
|Gordon tried to do what is right, different things, and make a profit.||Gordon tries to do what is right, what is different, and what is profitable.|
|With his mind sharp, by having the boss as his uncle, and few enemies, he’ll go far.||With his sharp mind, the boss as his uncle, and few enemies, he’ll go far.|