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Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS): Proof Reading for Grammar Toolkit

Student Proof Reading Guidelines

Proof reading is an integral part of the process of producing academic writing, and therefore you are expected to have proof read your work. Check De Montfort University Guidelines for more information.




Sentence basics

1. Is this a sentence? The basic structure of an English sentence

2. Should I start a new sentence? Common errors with sentence structure


1. Is the tense correct? Verb tenses and their uses in academic writing

2. Agree with or agree on-is this the right preposition? Verbs followed by prepositions


1. How many are there? Singular, plural and uncountable nouns

2. A/an, the or no article? Choosing the right article


Using punctuation marks

Academic Style

1. Not using I: Passive and active voice in academic writing

2. Expressing opinions: Tentativeness and certainty

Proof Reading for Grammar Activity


If you prefer to consult the Proof Reading for Grammar Guide in a printable format, use the links below:

Library Resources

Proof Reading for Grammar Toolkit Home

Proof Reading for Grammar Toolkit

This toolkit outlines some of the common grammar errors we often find in students’ assignments at DMU. The aim of the toolkit is to help you to identify some of these errors and to correct them in your own work.

Do take your time. Some of these ideas and terms may be new to you, and each page will take time to read and put into practice. Remember that not every section in the toolkit will apply to your own work or context, and you may wish to skip some parts.

 You can use the toolkit in the following ways:

  • To gain a general understanding of some of the most common grammar errors
  • To focus on specific grammar errors that frequently occur in your own work




What is grammar?

Grammar is a semi-structured system of meaning made up of grammar-words, word-order, and combinations of words and frozen phrases.

What does that mean?

There are rules. You can learn them. But there are exceptions.

If I know all of the rules and exceptions, then I can use English?

Not necessarily. Language is also creative. Even if you can do all of the exercises in a grammar textbook you might need to work on building language to express your own meaning and ideas.

So why proof read?

Proof reading your work will help you to practise using grammar as you develop the expression of your ideas. With practice, you will develop your understanding of how language works.

Can thinking too much about grammar prevent creativity?

Yes, it can. Continue to experiment with your ideas and use of language, but try and get feedback on your work. You can then proof read afterwards – particularly to polish a final draft.

The Process of Writing

Self-study grammar resources


The Scholarly Detective

Are your proof reading skills up to scratch? Do you want to test them out, or have some low-stakes practice before tackling your next big assignment? Why not try our new Proofreading Detective game, the Scholarly Detective and the Case of the Slapdash Thief!

This light-hearted game is designed to work alongside the Proof-Reading for Grammar Toolkit and covers some key tips for effective proofreading, as well as giving you a chance to try out your skills on some real problems.

Try it out, and let us know what you think!


On an older browser? try the Flash Version here.


If you prefer online, interactive resources to develop your mastery of English grammar, here is an illustrative selection:

  1. Cambridge English A range of English Language self-study activities organised by topic and level.
  2. English for Uni (University of Adelaide)

    This multimedia resource provides detailed explanations of some grammar issues with relevance to academic writing (Articles, Tenses, The Passive, Prepositions). Information is presented as a webpage and video story. Activities with key can be completed online or downloaded in an editable version.

  3. English Page Free online English lessons (introductory-level explanations on a range of grammar issues followed by self-assessment tests)

  4. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL, Purdue University)

    Detailed grammar explanations with examples, some activities (with key). Printable worksheets. Areas include: prepositions, articles, verbs, adjectives, numbers etc.

  5. The Internet Grammar of English (University College London)

    This is essentially a comprehensive online grammar book (or course), also available as an app. Good search options. Detailed explanations, followed by independent study activities.

  6. University of Hull Library Skills Grammar Resource This provides brief explanations on a handful of grammar issues (including Sentence Structure, Tenses, Punctuation, Commonly Confused Words) with a focus on their role in academic writing. Each section is followed by a short quiz.