Spelling and punctuation
Here is the first paragraph of a student's essay. Read it though carefully and decide whether it is a competent piece of writing.
This essay will examine a number of issues relating to the growth of communism in China since 1900 and its later-day decline. In particular, we will explore the neo-feudal system that excited before 1900 and how the grow of new China was closely linked with the spread of communism the reasons for the failure of communism to achieve it's aims will also be explore.
I hope that you spotted that there are at least four spelling mistakes and two major punctuation errors in this introductory passage. Even if the students used a spell-checker this would not have helped. Why not? Read the notes:
There are a number of mistakes in this paragraph. The spelling mistakes would not have been picked up by a computer spell-checker because they are all valid English words, even though they are being misused in this context.
- missing full-stop between communism and the
- it's should be its
- not explore but explored
A reader, faced with a piece of writing like this, would immediately get a very poor impression of this essay, whatever the content. From the very start, the writer would be heading for a low grade and this would be hard to overcome. The first paragraph is particularly important because it gives the reader the first impression, although every sentence in the essay is important in its own way.
There is no doubt that accurate spelling and correct punctuation are very important in setting the general tone of your writing. The marker will spot any difficulties in these areas immediately and will, mentally at least, begin to mark your work down if there are too many errors. There is a very close correlation between accuracy in these two areas and your overall mark. A fluent, academic style of writing will invariably be accompanied by good spelling and punctuation; the reverse is almost always true as well, and will pull down your marks.
Look at these sentences. Is there anything wrong with them? Would you like to make any changes?
1. I saw her in the morning she left her house at 10 oclock.
2. I like George in some ways unfortunately his eating habits put me of.
3. The teacher looked at her and said, ‘Your not working hard enough.’
4. The Birmingham Area registers about 70% of all patients in the UK
each year many of them are concerned with electronics.
5. I liked that film we saw last night and Lucy did to.
6. Albert Thomas 1932 - 1993 wrote some intresting guide books they demonstrated a wide understanding of these areas..
7. It was a hot humid day and he was sat down reading a book when his sister Tracy came to visit him she was sweating a lot.
8. She said that, 21% of students in the university were from the city.
Notes on the Task
1. I saw her in the morning. She left her house at 10 o'clock.
2. I like George in some ways. Unfortunately, his eating habits put me off. (or: I like George. In some ways ……. . Also note the spelling of the word off.)
3. The teacher looked at her and said, "You're not working hard enough."
4. The Birmingham Area registers about 70% of all patents in the UK each
year. Many of them are concerned with electronics. (Note the spelling of
5. I liked that film we saw last night, and Lucy did too.
6. Albert Thomas (1932 - 1993) wrote some interesting guide books.
7. It was a hot, humid day and he was sitting down reading a book when his sister Tracy came to visit him. She was sweating a lot.
8. She said that 21% of students in the university were from the city.