How WRC Tutors Help with Grammar and Proofreading

Yes, we "do" grammar!

(Adapted from UC Berkeley Student Learning Center handout)

Here's how…

We know proofreading your own writing is a tricky business. It can be really hard to catch your own mistakes. We want to make it easier for you to catch and correct those mistakes that you do make, and show you how to write sentences that say what you mean in the way you want to say it. Above all we want you to leave the tutoring session knowing how to do something you didn't know before you came in. We don't just want you to have a stronger paper; we want you to be a stronger writer.

Here's our plan:

    1. If you bring in a paper and tell us you want to work on grammar and proofreading, we'll work with you to identify patterns of errors, pointing out mistakes we see.
    2. You can help. If you know you have trouble with a specific kind of sentence structure, or you're worried about a specific part of your paper, please let your tutor know in advance. If English is not your first language, let us know that too, because sometimes there are different strategies that work better for non-native speakers of the language.
    3. We will look first for grammar errors that occur more than once throughout the paper, because any errors you make consistently and frequently will probably be the first ones we'll want to work on. In just one session we might not get to everything but this way we'll get to the most troubling problems first, and by isolating the patterns you'll learn to recognize them yourself much faster.
    4. For any particular grammatical problem, we'll first work on helping you understand the underlying rule or concept. We will probably ask you questions to pinpoint any misunderstanding, and may bring out a worksheet or writing handbook for help.
    5. We'll help you explore your options for how to rewrite a sentence more clearly or correctly. We'll probably ask you more questions about the idea you want to get across, and show you how different ways of restructuring a sentence have different effects on the reader. Choices are power, and we can help you see how to exercise that power.
    6. Only YOU can rewrite the sentence. Two reasons for this:
      • We can't really know exactly what you mean to say, and anything we would write would just be our best guess at what you intended.
      • It's your academic work, and we couldn't ethically produce any of your work for you. But by the time we've finished with steps 1 through 5, making your own changes will be a snap!

For the next time: Take a look at Purdue Online Writing Lab's tips for proofreading more effectively on your own. Your tutor can work with you to keep a Grammar Error Log (available in the WRC handouts), where you list the mistakes you make and group them in categories, so you can customize a proofreading plan that works for you. And of course, it always helps to have another reader's view, so plan ahead to see us for your next paper!

The SSC also offers workshops on editing...check out the schedule and see if you can attend one!

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