Editing for Grammar

Good language skills are ranked at the top of every company’s hiring preferences. Overall, correct punctuation is essential for clarity. Proofreading for errors is different from the typical copy-editing job, because its main purpose is to catch typographical errors, ensuring that all the elements on the page are where they should be before publication. In order to be a professional writer, a reporter must have an understanding of the parts of speech, and how sentences are constructed.

Common issues that occur in writing that should be caught during proofreading include subject and verb agreement, where a subject and predicate must agree in number. Next, there’s the noun and pronoun agreement, which ensures the pronouns agree with the antecedents in person, number and gender. Reflexive and intensive pronouns require the “self” pronoun to be used when a noun acts on itself or when a noun must be emphasized. Pronoun case is another area of concern, which states that case refers to the use of a pronoun in a sentence, and can be either nominative, objective, or possessive. The choice between using “which” and “that” in a sentence depending upon whether it is an essential or non-essential clause. Proper usage of possessive nouns should also not be overlooked. Proofreading can catch any deviations from consistent tenses within sentences. It can also help to fix any irregular verb form errors. Subjunctive mood, which expresses a condition that is either contrary to fact or is purely hypothetical, must be consistent. Modifiers make writing more descriptive and interesting, and should also refer clearly to some specific word in the sentence. Modifiers that are not attached grammatically are called “misplaced” or “dangling”, and hinder the meaning of the sentence. Double negatives should be corrected if there are any present. Lastly, passive and active voice must be addressed while proofreading. Typically, active voice is preferred in articles because it makes the writing more direct and specific, whereas passive leads to wordiness.

Source: “Creative Editing” by Dorothy A. Bowles and Diane L. Borden