Common Grammatical Errors
1. all right - All right is always written as two words; it is never written as one word (allright).
2. alot - A lot is always written as two words; never write it as alot.
3. good and well - Good is an adjective; well is an adverb.
Examples: Tom has a good idea. Tom runs well.
4. toward and towards - Both words are acceptable in academic writing.
5. affect and effect - Affect is a verb that means to influence; effect is a noun that is a synonym for result. Examples: Did her unkind words affect you? The effect of her words is unknown.
6. than and then - Than is a conjunction used for comparisons. Then is an adverb. Examples: He is better in math than I. We studied for an hour; then we went to the movies.
7. It's me - Formal English requires It is I. Avoid using it's me in formal situations.
8. their, there, they're - Their is the possessive form of they; there is usually an adverb (or an expletive); they're is a contraction of they are. Examples: There is no reason for their bad behavior. They're studying for an English test.
9. whose and who's - Whose indicates possession; who's is the contraction of who is. Examples: Whose English book is this? Who's going to the party tonight?
10. Its, it's - Its is a possessive noun; it's is a contraction for it is. Examples: The cat played with its toy mouse. It's a beautiful day.
Proper Use of Tenses
Overall rule: “Be consistent in use of tenses to ensure smooth expression. Avoid unnecessary shifts in verb tense within the same paragraph or in adjacent paragraphs.”
• For lit review: past tense (“Smith showed”) or present perfect tense (“researchers have shown”)
• For description of procedure if discussion is of past events: past tense or present perfect tense (see previous examples)
• For description of results: past tense (“anxiety decreased significantly”)
• For discussion of results and conclusions: present tense (“the results of Experiment 2 indicate”)
APA Publications Manual, 5th Ed. (p.33)