Grammar & Punctuation Handouts from the Dalhousie Writing Centre
Here is a list of handouts from the Dalhousie Writing Centre on topics relating to grammar, style, and punctuation. For more resources, including links and exercises, please check out our individual pages on grammar, punctuation and style.
Active and passive voice are different ways of constructing clauses. In active voice, the subject of the clause performs the action. In passive voice, the subject of the clause receives the action. This document contains information on when/where it is appropriate to use active and passive voice in your writing.
A run-on sentence is a sentence that contains two independent clauses that are not separated by appropriate punctuation. This document contains advice on identifying, avoiding, and correcting this kind of error.
A comma splice is a kind of run-on sentence in which two independent clauses are incorrectly joined together by a comma. This document provides more information on how to spot and fix comma splices in your writing.
Articles are words that come before a noun and indicate whether the noun is specific/non-specific, as well as singular/plural. This document provides information about using articles in your writing along with specific examples.
Nouns can be either singular or plural. A verb must always agree with the subject noun (i.e. a plural form of a noun requires the plural form of the verb).This document contains more information on how to distinguish between singular and plural subjects.
Modal verbs, including words such as “can”, “could”, “will”, and “would", express likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation. This handout features a guide to using modal verbs in your writing, as well as many examples.
Gerunds and participles are words derived from verbs which express action but do not function as verbs in a sentence. A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun in the context of a sentence. A participle is a verb which functions as an adjective or adverb. This handout gives an overview of how to use these kinds of words in your writing, as well as examples of common errors.
Transition words and phrases show the connection between two similar or different ideas and help to create flow. This guide from the Dalhousie Writing Centre discusses different kinds of transition phrase and the circumstances in which they are used.
Parentheticals (also known as “interrupters”) are words or phrases that expand on something in a sentence or supply additional, non-essential information. This handout discusses how to use punctuation such as commas, parentheses and dashes to set off parenthetical material from the rest of a sentence.
Before you can begin to write a report, essay, thesis, etc., an important first step is to gather information, primarily by reading. Throughout your university career you will do a lot of reading, and you will interact with many different types of documents (textbooks, articles, policies, novels, lab reports etc.) in order to inform your writing. Yet, often times we find ourselves at the bottom of a page not really understanding or even remembering what we just read. In order to get more out of your reading, it is important to be actively engaged in the reading process. To make the most of your reading, check out this handout contributed by Allison Nicolle.