Navigating Proper Grammar Usage | Writing

July 20, 2015 thetasctest

Grammar is the backbone of language. We need it if we want others to understand our speech and writing. Using proper English (or Spanish, if you’re taking a Spanish test) is imperative for any method of communication, but writing is more popular than ever. Text messages and emails have become standard communication for business and personal means.

You can take your writing to the next level for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Writing subtest by following these grammar writing tips:


Commas indicate a separation of ideas and brief pauses rather than a complete thought.

  • Use commas to separate words (or groups of words) in a series of three or more.
    • Example: I packed a sandwich, an apple, and chips for lunch today. The last comma in a series that comes before and or or is called the Oxford comma. Excluding the Oxford comma might lead to misunderstandings in your writing.
  • Use a comma to separate two interchangeable adjectives.
    • Example: He is a strong, healthy cat. We could also say healthy, strong cat, so the adjectives are considered interchangeable.
    • Example: They bought a luxurious winter cabin. We would not say winter luxurious cabin, so these are not considered interchangeable, and no comma is used.

Passive Voice 

It’s important to steer clear of the passive voice. In the sentence “The letter was read by the boy,” what would be the direct object (letter) is positioned as the subject, rendering a passive voice. Active voice can correct this: “The boy read the letter.”

Proper Nouns

We can classify every noun as either common or proper. Proper nouns name specific, one-of-a-kind items, and they begin with capital letters. Proper nouns are easy to spot:

  • Common noun: Would you like a cookie? Proper noun: I’d like some Oreos.
  • Common noun: Let’s go to the city. Proper noun: Let’s go to New York City.
  • I can see Jupiter tonight. Jupiter is a proper noun.
  • Jason was hoping for an easy teacher for science class, but he got Mrs. French. She is very strict. Jason and Mrs. French are proper nouns, while science class is a common noun.


A homophone is pronounced similar to another word. These words differ in meaning and spelling. Examples of homophones include:

  • to, two, and too
  • they’re, their, and there
  • flour and flower
  • peal and peel
  • rose (flower) and rose (as in “rise”)

It is important to use the correct homophone in your writing so the reader understands what you mean.


A pronoun takes the place of a noun. A pronoun can be any of the following but not limited to:

  • I
  • Me
  • He
  • She
  • Herself
  • You
  • It
  • That
  • They

In the sentence, Alex saw Chelsea, and he winked at her, the pronouns he and her take the place of Alex and Chelsea. You run the risk of confusing readers if you have too many pronouns in a sentence. In your writing, use nouns first; then use pronouns to refer back to the nouns.

Practicing proper grammar will help you excel on the Writing subtest. And when applying for jobs, it’s important to have proper grammar. You will highlight your intelligence by composing a grammatically correct resume and cover letter.

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