Conveying your thoughts effectively in written form isn’t the easiest of things to do. It’s frustrating, not being able to get your point across because the reader can’t follow the flow of your sentences. This is where knowledge of the proper writing mechanics comes in.
Following the appropriate rules of writing is a tried and tested way of improving reader comprehension.
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In this article, we’ll outline these rules, and the ways each one can be used effectively in your work. Before we begin though, let’s give you a bit of an idea of what writing mechanics actually are.
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What Are Writing Mechanics?
Writing mechanics are the established rules that should be followed when writing sentences. They go hand in hand with grammar as the standards to follow when writing and are an important way to effectively communicate ideas.
By consensus, the rules on grammar and writing mechanics have become the official standard. They aren’t set in stone though but using them as a guide is still a good idea.
#1: Parts of speech
The classifications of parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives among others is one of the most important things to know if you’re a writer. Knowing the difference between a verb and an adverb, or a preposition from a conjunction, plays a big part in being able to communicate effectively. It’s not really necessary to be familiar with the definitions of each, but knowing how to use them properly is.
#2: Parts of sentences
There are no hard and fast rules about making sentences.
This is actually a good thing, as it allows you a lot of leeway to exercise your creativity. Knowing the parts of sentences such as subjects, objects, phrases, and clauses helps to give your sentences cohesion.
Being able to observe harmony while being creative with sentence structure is the sign of a good writer.
#3: Sentence errors
Sometimes, even sentences that seem to be correct may still not follow proper writing mechanics.
Run-on sentences, dangling participles, and faulty parallelism among others, are easy to miss if you aren’t familiar with them. The only way to actually spot these errors is to know what to look for. Ultimately, you should be aware of these types of sentence errors to avoid committing them yourself.
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#4: Subject-Verb agreement
Subject-verb agreement is easy to miss, especially for novice writers. Knowing the proper or singular forms of verbs and then matching them to the subject as is required makes your sentences easier to understand.
Subject-verb agreement also makes your work more enjoyable to read. Incorrect subject-verb agreement can be grating to a reader, especially if committed often in a single work.
Improper capitalization may not exactly affect the meaning behind the words that you use, but it does help keep your sentences organized. Capitalization signals to a reader the important details in a sentence.
People, places, and ideas that are capitalized give them a hint as to the significance of that word. Capitalization also helps your sentences and paragraphs flow better as it signals the beginning of each sentence that you use.
There’s a joke that can easily convey the importance of proper punctuation. The difference between ‘Let’s eat, Fred,’ and ‘Let’s eat Fred’ is a simple comma, but it changes the meaning significantly. One is a dinner invitation, the other is cannibalism!
Using the correct punctuation gives you the ability to convey your ideas to the reader exactly as you intended. Punctuation may be a small part of the sentence as a whole, but it definitely has a big impact.
No one really wants to see bad spelling, certainly not a discerning reader. Improper spelling takes away from your work and gives a reader fewer reasons to finish it.
Fortunately, most modern text programs have spell checkers that can identify errors. You really shouldn’t be too complacent though. Even spell checkers can miss words that are spelled correctly but used improperly.
Never use abbreviations that aren’t familiar to your readers unless you’re trying to hide the meaning intentionally. The best practice would be to use the full title first, followed immediately by the abbreviation.
Once this is done, you could use the abbreviation instead. Familiarize your reader with the abbreviations that you use, don’t let them have to wonder what they actually mean.
#9: Homonyms, homographs and homophones
This is a part of English speech that can easily confuse a novice writer. A lot of words in the English language sound alike or are spelled alike but have different meanings. The words ‘ there,’ ‘their,’ and ‘they’re,’ or ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ come easily to mind. They sound the same but are significantly different.
Words like leaves can have different meanings depending on the context. It may be the singular present tense of leave, or the plural of leaf. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the difference.
#10: Eliminating redundancy
Using synonyms, and antonyms of words reduces redundancy in sentences. It’s not a thing that would really affect the ideas that you want to convey, but it can be off-putting to a reader. Try to limit using similar words, at least in the same sentence or paragraph.
If you must repeat words, try to space them out so that they don’t seem too jarring. If you run out of synonyms, you could always use the negative of an antonym to convey the same idea.
The Proper Mechanics of Writing: A Summary
Let’s go over some of the most important mechanics of writing that you need to be familiar with before you get started on your masterpiece.
- Mastering the proper usage of quotation marks.
- Ensuring that both grammar and spelling are correct. Knowing grammar rules is extremely vital.
- Mastering punctuation.
- Knowing how, where, and when to use apostrophes.
- Creating a concise topic sentence or thesis.
- Being able to form coherent sentence structures and avoiding sentence fragments.
- Ensuring that capitalization is used properly.
- Having a mastery of the English vocabulary.
- Knowing how to formulate concise paragraphs that are not too wordy.
Hopefully, this article has enlightened you on the proper use of grammar and writing mechanics to improve your overall writing skills.
Effectively conveying your thoughts on paper is admittedly much easier when both the writer and the reader understand each other. If you still have questions about the topic, feel free to contact us for more advice or information.