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Writing Resource Hub

Welcome to our online Writing Resource Hub where you'll find information that will help you ACE your writing assignment.

Grammar & Mechanics



Grammar Help & Plagiarism Prevention Resources

Grammarly is a free, online writing assistant that checks your paper for grammar and punctuation errors. You can visit the Grammarly website and create a free account and/or download Grammarly's Google Chrome Extension.

It is also very important to avoid plagiarism in your writing (see the Plagiarism section of UACCM's Code of Conduct), and there are online tools to check your paper for plagiarism as well. Grammarly offers a Plagiarism Checker, but there are multiple online resources for this, including:

Properly citing the sources used in our work and properly formatting the information and ideas we state in those works prevents us from committing plagiarism and consequently being removed from the university and/or facing additional repercussions. Further information regarding what is considered "common knowledge," or in other words, what does and does not require a citation, can be found here.

Common Grammar Mistakes

Affect vs. Effect

  • Affect (verb): To influence or cause someone or something to change. 
    • Example: He was affected by the pollen this spring.
  • Effect (noun): The result of an influence.
    • Example: The effect of pollution will hurt our future generations.

Use the acronym RAVEN to help you remember which one to use.


Affect is a 


Effect is a 


Who vs. Whom

Who and whom are not always taken into account in academic writing anymore, so this is something that is generally only considered depending on the instructor.

  • Who: A pronoun that refers to the subject of the sentence. 
    • Use who to ask which person does an action. 
    • Other subject pronouns: He, She, We
    • Example: I enjoy seeing the dog who lives at the house down the street. In this sentence, "who" is referring to the dog, which is the subject.
  • Whom: A pronoun that refers to the object of the sentence. 
    • Use whom to ask which person receives an action. 
    • Other object pronouns: Him, Her, Us
    • Example: My parents dislike the dog whom we have seen on our walks. In this sentence, "whom" is the object of the compound verb "have seen." We could say: We have seen him, with "him" being the dog.

They're, Their, & There

  • They're: a contraction that combines "they" and "are"
    • Example: They're having a bad day.
  • Their: shows possession/ownership
    • Example: Their house is pretty.
  • There: This has two uses. It is a pronoun that introduces the subject of the sentence, OR it is a place.
    • Example (pronoun): There is something wrong with him.
    • Example (place): She will be there soon.

Your & You're

  • Your: Possessive 
    • Example: Your dog is very well behaved.
  • You're: a contraction that combines "you" and "are"
    • Example: You're a nice person.

To, Two, & Too

  • To: a preposition with multiple meanings such as "toward" or "until" or a part of a verb infinitive 
    • Example (preposition): You haven't worked this hard to just give up!
    • Example (verb infinitive): You need to go to the store. Both "need" and "go" are verbs, and "to" comes after each of these verbs.
  • Too: means "also" or "in addition to"
    • Example: She has to turn in an essay, too. OR You used way too much seasoning in this pasta!
  • Two: a number
    • Example: She bought two bouquets of flowers.

Except, Expect, & Accept

  • Except: a preposition that means "other than" or "not including" 
    • Example: Everyone is going on the trip except Jamie.
  • Expect: verb that means to await or depend on 
    • Example: You can expect the package to come in on Friday.
  • Accept: to agree or to receive something willingly
    • Example: She accepted their decision.

Definitely & Defiantly

  • Definitely: means "for sure" or "without doubt"
    • Example: You should definitely apply for that job.
  • Defiantly: means "to show open resistance or disobedience" 
    • Example: She defiantly refused to complete the assignment.

Weather vs. Whether

  • Weather: This can have three different meanings:
    • 1. the state of our atmosphere (storms, sunlight, etc.)
      • Example: If the weather is good, we can go fishing today.
    • 2. a verb meaning "to wear away or change the appearance of something"
      • Example: The wood is weathered from years of sun exposure and rain.
    • 3. a verb meaning "to come safely through something"
      • Example: The building weathered the storm well.
  • Whether: indicates that a statement applies to either option mentioned in a situation
    • Example: She had to decided whether she wanted to go get ice cream or stay home.

Fewer vs. Less

  • Fewer: used to refer to number among things that are counted
    • Example: She had fewer choices of sides at this restaurant than the other restaurant.
  • Less: used to refer to quality or amount among things that are measured
    • Example: After spending twenty minutes on his science homework, he realized he had less time to complete his math homework.

Style Rules


It is important to maintain a consistent verb tense throughout an essay. Inconsistent verb tense can confuse your readers.

Verb tense is broken down by one of three times using:

  • Past: used to describe things that have already happened
  • Present: used to describe things that are currently happening
  • Future: used to describe things that will happen in the future

And again by one of four forms using: 

  • Simple:
    • used to describe something that happened prior to the current action
    • uses the root word modified for the time part of the tense
  • Progressive (also called Continuous):
    • used to show actions or conditions that are in progress at some point in time
    • uses a form of "is" with the verb
  • Perfect:
    • used to show an action that is complete and finished - or "perfected"
    • uses a form of "has" with the verb
  • Perfect Progressive (also called Perfect Continuous):
    • used to show that an event or action is, was, or will be continually occurring (progressive) but that it is, was, or will be completed at a later time, or that it relates to a later time (perfect)
    • uses a form of "has been" with the verb

The following table breaks down the verb tenses using the verb "study" as an example.






studies studied will study


is studying was studying will be studying


has studied had studied will have studied

Perfect Progressive

has been studying had been studying will have been studying


Similarly to verb tense, it is important to keep a consistent perspective throughout your paper.

  • First person:
    • Written from the writer's point of view
    • Often used to write about a personal experience
    • Uses "I," "we," "us," "my," and "we."
  • Second person:
    • Written to address the reader
    • Uses "you," "your," or any other forms of "you"
  • Third person:
    • Written from an outsiders point of view, such as a narrator
    • Also referred to as the omniscient point of view as the narrator is often all-knowing
    • Third person pronouns including "he," "she," and "they" are used

Sentence Structure

Varying sentence structure can strengthen an essay by allowing a writer to avoid sounding too monotonous.

There are four main sentence structures, including simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

  • Simple: One independent clause*
    • Example: She went to the library.
  • Compound: Two or more independent clauses
    • Example: She went to the library, and it was crowded.
  • Complex: One independent clause + one or more dependent clauses**
    • Example: She went to the library because she had to study.
  • Compound-Complex: Two or more independent clauses + one or more dependent clauses
    • Example: She went to the library because she had to study, and it was crowded.

*Independent Clause: 

  • a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought
  • can stand on its own as a complete sentence

**Dependent Clause: 

  • a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought
  • cannot stand alone as a complete sentence

Word choice, order, and punctuation matter!

Your word choice, word order, and punctuation play a crucial role in the way your sentences are interpreted. 

  • Example:
    • Sentence 1: Let's eat, grandma!
    • Sentence 2: Let's eat grandma!

The first sentence implies that a child is telling their grandma that they should eat something.

The second sentence is implying that the family should eat grandma!

The only difference: a comma.

More examples of why punctuation matters: Why Punctuation Matters

Pay attention to what you write because we don't want to encourage cannibalism.

Word order also matters!


  • Sentence 1: He genuinely needs to do that.
  • Sentence 2: He needs to do that genuinely.

The placement of the words in the sentence places emphasis in different ways, therefore altering the meaning of the sentence. The first sentence emphasizes that "he" just really needs to do something, but the second sentence emphasizes how he needs to something - he needs to do it genuinely. 



  • Use to join two independent clauses and a coordinating conjunction. 
  • Use after an introductory phrase, prepositional phrase, or dependent clause. 
  • Use to separate elements in a series. (The Oxford Comma)
  • Use to separate nonessential elements from a sentence. 
  • Use between coordinate adjectives (two adjectives that describe the same noun). 
  • Use after a transitional element..
  • Use with quoted words.
  • Use in a personal title, date, number, and to separate a city name and state. 


  • Use to join two independent clauses when the second clause is of equal emphasis.
  • Use to join two independent clauses when the second clause begins with a conjunctive adverb or transition.
  • Use to join elements of a series when the individual items of the series include commas. 


  • Use to join two independent clauses when you wish to emphasize the second clause. 
  • Use after an independent clause when it is followed by a list, a quotation, an appositive, or another idea directly related to the independent clause. 
  • Use at the end of a business letter greeting. 
  • Use to separate the hour and minute(s) in a time notation.

Quotation Marks

  • Use to enclose direct quotations. 
  • Use to indicate an ironic or reserved use of a word. 
  • Use around the titles of short poems, songs, short stories, magazine or newspaper articles, essays, speeches, and chapter titles. 


  • Use to show possession. 
    • Singular: the apostrophe is placed after the "s"
      • Example: "the teacher's lesson plans" indicates that there is only one teacher
    • Plural: the apostrophe is placed before the "s"
      • Example: "the teachers' lesson plans" indicates that there is more than one teacher
  • Use to show the omission of letters. (Contractions)
  • Use to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters. (Example: Mind your p's and q's.


  • Use to join two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun. 
  • Use with compound numbers. 
  • Use to avoid confusion or an awkward combination of letters. 
  • Use with prefixes and suffixes. 
  • Use for line breaks. 


Italics and underlining are often used interchangeably. If you are using a word-processing program, it is advised to use italics; however, whichever method you choose, be consistent. 

  • Use for titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays, music albums, works of art, websites, and individual trains, planes, or ships.
  • Use to add emphasis to a word. 

Additional Rules:

  • It's vs. Its
    • It's is a contraction of "it is" or "it has". 
      • Example: It's important to use proper grammar rules in your essays.
    • Its is a possessive form of it.
      • Example: The restaurant raised its prices again.
  • Titles
    • Larger works should be placed in quotation marks. These include books, plays, films, periodicals, long poems (book-length poems), databases, and websites.
    • Smaller works should be italicized. These include articles, essays, chapters, short poems, webpages, songs, and speeches.