Part 1: Grammatical Mistakes Year 6 Students Must Fix Before High School

Grammar can be hard, but it shouldn't be. In this article, we show you how to stop making the 7 most common grammar errors Year 6 students must fix.

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Nowadays, everybody seems to struggle a little with grammar. But if you want to do well in High School English, you need to stop making the mistakes everyone does. But don’t worry, to help you out, we’ve identified the 7 grammatical mistakes Year 6 students must fix before they start High School.

In this article, we’re going to show you what the mistakes are, tell you how to fix them, and let you download a worksheet so you can practice your new skills!

Here are our strategies for fixing these grammatical mistakes.

 

Why is grammar important?

Let’s eat grandma.

Let’s eat, grandma.

Both the sentences above, although they have the same words, have completely different meanings. This is because of how grammar functions. Grammar can alter the meaning of a sentence, add fluidity and influence your writing.

In the first sentence, Grandma is dinner. In the second sentence, we are telling Grandma that dinner is ready.

What’s the difference?

That’s right, the comma following the clause “let’s eat.” Commas used like that at the end of a sentence are important for identifying who is being addresses as opposed to who is being eaten.

 

Want to see how good your grammar skills are?

 

Why is grammar hard for some students?

Grammar is a key skill that students are expected to have already mastered when going into High School but they are not taught it.

While younger years at Primary school are being taught the rules of grammar, older students have missed out. In addition, students who have recently moved to Australia, have to learn the language and a whole host of complex, and sometimes contradictory or inconsistent, grammar rules.

However, doing well in English in High School means writing grammatically correct sentences, consistently.

Thus, it is important that you fix your grammar mistakes before you go into High School.

 

What are the 7 grammatical mistakes Year 6 students must fix:

  1. Incorrect subject-verb agreement
  2. Wrong tense
  3. Commas
  4. Wrong word usage
  5. Sentence fragments
  6. Incorrect use of articles
  7. Vague pronoun reference

What is grammar?

Grammar is the method through which we string together words to ensure they make sense. It is a set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in a natural language.

Think about it like this.

We have key rules we follow in life to make sure we don’t get in trouble. Similarly, there are certain grammatical rules we need to follow to ensure we write clearly.

 

Why is grammar important?

 

Here are the top 5 reasons why grammar is important:

  1. It allows for seamless writing that is free of distractions for the reader.
  2. It’s a key life skill. Good grammar is essential when you submit a resume or write an essay.
  3. You need it for effective and precise communication.
  4. Correct grammar avoids ambiguity and sloppiness.
  5. Employing correct grammar enhances your credibility.

The 7 Grammar mistakes Year 6 students must fix – explained

Enough talking about grammar, let’s look at the mistakes you make and how to stop making them before High School.

 

1. Incorrect subject-verb agreement

 

In a sentence, a subject must agree with the verb. There are a few different rules we follow to ensure that the subject and verb agree in a sentence.

Let’s recap!

 

A subject is the part of the sentence which indicates:

  • what the sentence is about
  • who/what is performing the action

A verb tells you what the subject in the sentence is doing.

 

So, how do you ensure your subject and verb are in agreement?

 

Here are the 3 steps we teach matrix students to follow:

 

  1. Identify the subject and verb in the sentence.
    1. To identify the subject in the sentence, ask yourself the following question: Who or what is performing the action?
    2. To identify the verb, ask yourself: What is the subject doing?
    3. Highlight both these words.
  2. Check the subject/verb agreement. How? Follow these rules:
    1. When there is a singular subject, the verb that follows it must also be singular. Similarly, when there is a plural subject, the verb that follows must be plural.
    2. Two or more singular subjects joined by and/or/nor require a singular verb to agree. Whilst, two or more plural subjects joined by and/or/nor will take a plural verb to agree.
    3. In a sentence containing both a singular and plural noun/pronoun, joined by or/nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject closer to the verb.
    4. Use doesn’t when there is a singular subject and don’t when there is a plural subject.
    5. When a subject and verb are separated by a phrase, the subject will need to agree with the verb not the noun in the phrase.
  3. Practice! Practice really does make perfect and can help ingrain these rules into your memory. Over the next term, before starting high school, practice applying these rules in sentences so they become embedded in your memory.

Practice your knowledge of subject/verb agreement using our Grammar Worksheet!

 

2. Wrong Tense

 

 

The next common mistake students make is using the wrong tense. Here are the three common things students do:

  1. They will have different tenses in one sentence.
  2. The tense will not correlate with what is happening.
  3. They will use the wrong tense when telling a flashback.

 

How can you avoid using the wrong tense?

There are some simple steps you can follow to ensure you get tenses right.

  1. Remembering the following set of rules.
    1. Do not change tenses in a sentence.
      Example: *She will drink juice and ate eggs for breakfast.
      In this sentence, two different tenses have been used. The first verb is in the future tense while the second verb is in the past tense. The two verb tenses are not in agreement with each other as both actions are happening at the same time, taking away from the credibility of both actions.
      A correct example of this sentence would be: She will drink juice and eat eggs for breakfast.
    2. When telling flashbacks, use a tense that is one step before the tense the story is written in.
      Example: A story written in the past tense will use past perfect tense in flashbacks.
    3. Use tense consistently.
      1. Choose a tense which is the most relevant to what is being written and stick to it. Only deviate from that tense if necessary. Here are the common tenses and their chronological order!
        • Future
        • Present
        • Present continuous
        • Past
        • Past Perfect
  2. Play a clear attention to these rules when writing. Double-check your work to spot tense errors (Reading aloud will help you identify errors)!
  3. Practise! Verb tense errors are super common and knowing the rules is not enough.

It is important you practise these rules so that you can understand how to apply them.

 

3. Commas

 

Ugh! Commas? Am I right? Comma errors are common grammatical mistakes by students and adults of all skill levels.

It’s hard to get commas right all the time, there are so many different rules.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to get it right!

As a rule, the fewer commas the better, but sometimes we have to have commas. Students will sometimes use too many commas or other times too few commas. Both are wrong.

A comma can change the meaning of the sentence as we saw before (Do you remember how not to imply you’re about to eat grandma?).

 

How can we fix it? Here are the key rules you should remember:

  1. Never use a comma to separate a subject and verb.
  2. Don’t use a comma to separate two nouns in a compound subject.
  3. Do not use a comma before “than” when making a comparison.
  4. Always use a comma after a dependent clause that begins a sentence.
    • Example: When I went dancing, I saw my friend.
  5. Use commas to separate items in a series.
    • Example: For my birthday I want a new phone, watch, shoes, chocolates, and a dress.
  6. Place a comma straight after an introductory adverb.
    • Example: Finally, I will be able to start dancing again.
  7. Use a comma when attributing a quote that cannot function as part of the sentence’s grammar.
    • Example: In the novel Goodnight Mister Tom, Magorian says, “It occurred to him that strength was quite different from toughness and that being vulnerable wasn’t quite the same as being weak.”
  8. Use a comma when using more than one adjective in a series.

Now you need to remember these and put them into practice.

 

4. Wrong word usage

 

 

English can be a tricky language! We get it! There are so many words which sound the same, nearly look the same but have completely different meanings. A common mistake teachers note is when students mix up words and use the wrong word. this changes the meaning of the sentence without the student intending it.

 

Let’s go through the most common misused words and where you should use each one of them.

 

They’re vs their vs there

Firstly, let us look at what each of these words means.

  • There: In, at, or to that place
  • Their: Refers to possession or ownership of something
  • They’re: Contraction of “they” + “are”

Use ‘there’ when referring to a direction or location, use ‘their’ when indicating possession and ‘they’re’ as a short form of they are.

 

Your vs you’re

Let’s differentiate the meaning between these two words. Your is a possessive adjective and is used when talking about someone’s possession. You’re, on the other hand, is a contraction of you and are.

Example:

Can I borrow your book?
You’re a nice person.

 

Except vs accept

Except and accept sound the same, except that we have to accept that they are not.

  • Except: Not including; other than
  • Accept: Consent to receive or undertake; an affirmative action

Use “except” when you want to exclude something and accept when you want to talk about affirmative action.

A key tip: Remember ex means gone and alludes to the meaning of the word “except”.

 

Device vs devise

What do they both mean?

  • Device (Noun): A thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, using a piece of equipment
  • Devise (Verb): Plan or invent with careful thought

Both these words are not interchangeable as they belong to different parts of speech. Knowing the meaning of the two words will help you use them accurately.

Remember: device is a noun and devise is a verb.

 

Licence vs license or Practice vs practise

Often students and adults will jumble up license and licence or practise and practice.

One of the forms is a noun and the form is a verb, but which is which?

Words ending with “-ce” are nouns.

Words ending with “-se” are verbs.

 

But why do I see the verb spelled as “-ce” in books and online?

In American English, there is no distinction between practice and practise or licence and license. Instead, the use the “-ce” form for both.

But Australian English uses both, so that means you need to get them right.

Hot tip: A good rule to follow is that like noun precedes verb in the alphabet. The noun form (c) always precedes the verb form (s).

 

Its vs it’s

Many students think that every time they write ‘its’ they need an apostrophe in between. That is not true.

Its and it’s are two separate words with separate meanings.

Its: a possessive; refers to belonging or association to something that has already been mentioned

  • Example: The cat walks on its four legs.

It’s: a contraction of it is or it has

  • Example: It’s been a long day.

Use ‘its’ when you are talking about possession and ‘it’s’ when you do not want to say ‘it is’ or ‘it has’!

Sentence Fragments

A Sentence that doesn’t have a subject, verb or fails to express a complete thought is known as a sentence fragment.

A sentence fragment is usually disconnected from the main clause and cannot stand on its own. A sentence which cannot stand on its own is a dependent clause.

But don’t worry, sentence fragments are simple to fix!

 

How?

Here’s a simple 3 step process:

  1. Spot the fragment.
  2. Remove the full stop between the fragment and the main clause. Join the two together using accurate punctuation.
    or, if that won’t work:
  3. Complete the thought by adding what is missing. The missing thing could be a subject, verb or connecting words.

 

Remember: every dependent clause needs to be attached to an independent clause!

 

Incorrect use of articles

 

The word placed before a noun to denote if it is generic or specific is known as an article. There are two types of articles. Let’s look at them!

  • Definite article: The
  • Indefinite article: A, an

 

A definite article is used when we want to talk about a specific object. Whilst, an indefinite article is used when we are talking about something generic.

Example:

Can I ride a bike?

Can I ride the bike?

When we say “ a bike” we are referring to any of the bikes available- it is not specific. However, when we say “the bike” we are referring to a particular bike we want to ride.

 

Hot tip: When you are sure about what object you are referring to use a definite article, however, if you are not picky about the object then use an indefinite article!

Vague pronoun reference

Whether it be a sentence, a paragraph, or an essay, each pronoun should refer clearly to one particular pronoun.

A vague pronoun reference occurs when:

  • There is a pronoun without attribution to a noun.
  • When there are two nouns.
  • The noun attributed to a pronoun acts as an adjective.
  • There is no noun.

 

A vague pronoun reference can cause unclarity about what the pronoun is referring to. This can make the sentence ambiguous.

Words which are typically included in a vague pronoun reference are:

  • It
  • This
  • Which
  • That

 

Reminder: A pronoun cannot be attributed to a whole sentence. A plural pronoun can be attributed to more than one noun but never to a whole sentence.

 

How can we stop making vague pronoun references in our writing?

  1. Read over what you have written
  2. Highlight all the pronouns
  3. Highlight the noun to which the pronoun is attributed.
    Error message!!!
            But there are pronouns that don’t have any noun linked to them. What do I do?
  4. Attribute a noun to a pronoun. You can do this by adding a noun or rewording the sentence.
  5. Read the sentence again and make sure the pronouns are linked to a noun correctly.

Following these steps will aid you in making sure you are not making vague pronoun references!

 

The 7 mistakes fixed…

Now that we have gone over the 7 most common mistakes made by students, it’s time to work on ensuring they are completely fixed. You can only do this through practice.

It is extremely important to practice grammar because it will help you retain the rules better and allow you to work on your skills.

If you want to ensure that you’re across all of your grammar, read more about writing with correct grammar in our ‘Grammar Toolkit’.

 

What are you waiting for? Get practising!

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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