Whether you are perfecting your academic project or putting the finishing touches to your latest blog, we’ve curated a few pointers for you to use to check everything is as it should be with your grammar and punctuation.

The proofreading process involves scrutiny of spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, so these writing and grammar tips are useful for you to know. You can revisit them whenever it comes to creating and proofreading your next piece of content.

Word Choice

This may sound obvious, but just take a moment to think. Do you know exactly what the word being used means? If there are any uncommon words you don’t use regularly, double-check.

How many times have you seen someone online write ‘defiantly’ instead of ‘definitely’? Being defiant and the element of certainty are two very different things. While this may seem like an obvious error to the trained eye, silly spelling errors and different meanings for similar words can appear quite often.

Check also for any minor differences, such as stationery, meaning ‘pens and paper’, or stationary, as in ‘still’.


When writing for academic or formal business purposes, you should be writing in the third person.

If, however, you are writing for something more informal, such as an email, a blog or social post, it would usually make more sense to write in the first person singular, ‘I, me’ or the plural ‘we, us’.

Some confusion can often arise when talking about companies, though.

For example, think of a group of people who come together to work or for a meeting. When referring to this group of people, you would usually say ‘they’, being the third person plural.

The difference comes when referring to a company. Yes, there will probably be more than one person who works for the company, but the company itself is an individual item, such as: ‘Apple has released a new iPhone’. Though it may be tempting to use ‘have’, it is singular.

Interestingly, when referring to football teams, they are plural. Such as ‘Manchester City have won the title’.

Active vs. Passive Voice

The style of voice you write in is dependent on context, and this is one of the grammar tips that you will need to use to evaluate as you go. There is no concrete right or wrong situation in which to apply the passive or active voice, but one usually suits better than the other.

Active voice portrays a strong tone, is clear and focused. It tells what a person or thing does. The passive voice is subtler and, in some contexts, can appear weaker; it explains what is done to something.

Compare these two sentences for effect as an example:

  • The food critic wrote a glowing review of the new menu.
  • A glowing review of the new menu was written by the food critic.

The first is in the active voice, and the second in the passive. Decide which style feels more appropriate for what you are writing. You could even write out a few sentences in both voices to help you to compare which sounds more effective and fitting to the context.

Generally, it reads better to write predominantly in the active voice, unless it is not possible.

Commas vs. Semicolons

Commas can be used in a multitude of ways, from separating items in a list to connecting two clauses of a sentence.

Semicolons can also be used to link two statements which relate to the same thing yet could also stand alone as individual sentences.

Uncertainties can sometimes appear between the two types of punctuation.

For example, when listing items which are single words, you can use commas to separate them. If you are listing more complex phrases which may even contain commas, you may need to use semicolons to break up each part of the list.


Regardless of if you are learning English or a native speaker, the apostrophe can often be a struggle. Sometimes, it can be a case of trial and error to find out which position looks right, and actually is. Here are three quick grammar tips to help you decide where to put the apostrophe in certain circumstances.

  • Possessive: It belongs to the individual
    • Brian’s research, an employee’s timesheet, Rick’s son
    • If the name ends in an ‘-s’, you can either use the apostrophe then ‘-s’ or just the apostrophe, e. James’ car
  • Plural noun: if it ends in an ‘-s’, you can just use the apostrophe, e. the parents’
    • If it does not end in an ‘-s’, use as original, e. the children’s
  • Contractions: depends on the type of contraction
    • If a negative, such as ‘does not’, the apostrophe replaces the ‘o’ from ‘not’.
      Would not = wouldn’t, should not = shouldn’t, will not = won’t
    • If contracting ‘have’ or ‘will’ usually remove the ‘ha-’ or ‘wi-’

They will = they’ll, they have = they’ve, she will = she’ll.

Check With our Grammar Tips

Take time to familiarise yourself with these grammar tips before you start writing and refer to them throughout if you are unsure. If you are the proofreader and someone else has written the document, be vigilant for spellings and punctuation, and keep these tips close for easy reference.

For additional guidance, read through our proofreading guide on common writing errors.

If you would like another opinion on a piece of work, a form of communication or report, obtain an instant quote for our proofreading service today. Our qualified proofreaders can check these points and more in-depth to make sure that the final piece of content you submit is to the best standard it can be.