Improving Personal Writing Skills

In some cases, it may be complicated to identify the correct use of the apostrophe. However, these punctuation marks have only three relatively specific uses, which follow strict rules. These three main reasons to use apostrophes include forming a possessive, forming a contraction, and forming the plural. Even though the use of apostrophes may appear to be confusing, the related grammar and punctuation rules are simple.

As already mentioned, the first and one of the most common uses of apostrophes is creating possessive nouns. Both common nouns and proper nouns can be transformed into possessive nouns in order to indicate ownership. In most cases, singular nouns are transformed by an apostrophe, which is followed by an s. For example, adding an ‘s to such singular noun as driver creates a possessive form of the noun, as in driver’s. Plural words adhere to a slightly different rule, where only the apostrophe is added. For instance, the word drivers transformed into a possessive form would be drivers’. There are also some exceptions for the above-mentioned method of creating possessive nouns. For instance, the possessive form for irregular plural nouns and plural nouns without the letter s is created by adding ‘s in the same way as with singular nouns. The plural noun children takes its possessive form children’s by simply adding ‘s. Possessive pronouns, however, do not require an apostrophe as they are already in a possessive form.

Apostrophes are also broadly utilized to create contractions for words in an abbreviated form. In such cases, the apostrophe is used to represent the omitted letters and indicate the contraction for the reader. Even though contractions are commonly considered an informal language, there are more and more people who strongly disagree. As time passes and digital technology develops, language undergoes significant changes too, and hence contractions are used in formal writing more frequently. Such words as couldn’t, wouldn’t, don’t, can’t, isn’t may serve as a prime example of apostrophe’s use to form a contradiction.

The third use of an apostrophe is to create plural forms for certain words. However, that use may be frequently mistaken to form plural nouns or acronyms. In the modern English language, there are two instances of apostrophes being used to create plural forms. The first instance is pluralizing an independent letter. For example, there are two r’s in the word tomorrow. Another instance is pluralizing numbers, for instance, a man in his 40’s.

Main Uses for Commas

Commas are used for a wide variety of purposes according to relatively strict and straightforward rules. According to some sources, there are eight basic uses for commas (Arivazhagan et al., 2016). These uses include separating independent clauses, using after an introductory phrase, using between items in a series, setting of nonrestrictive clauses, setting off appositives, indicating direct address or direct quotations, using commas with addresses, dates, titles, and numbers.

The first use is separating independent clauses by placing a comma before coordinating conjunction between two separate ideas. For example: I graduated from school, and then I went to college. Commas are also used after an introductory clause or phrase. In such cases, a comma indicates the ending of the introductory clause and the beginning of the sentence. For instance: When I was younger, I used to like chocolate.

One of the most common uses of commas is dividing items in a series. If a series contains three or more items, which have a similar function in a sentence, they are separated with a comma. These items may be represented by independent words, clauses, or even phrases that share the same function and form. The previous sentence may serve as a prime example for that particular use of commas. Another use of commas is to set off nonrestrictive clauses, which are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. However, there are also restrictive clauses that are essential for the meaning of the sentence, and hence the rule may be confusing in some cases. An example of a nonrestrictive clause is: Sarah, who is a wonderful singer, is getting married next month.

Commas may be used in order to set off appositives, which are represented by nouns or noun phrases renaming related nouns. Appositives may be restrictive and nonrestrictive depending on their relation to the meaning of the sentence. Nonrestrictive appositives, which do not contain any essential information, are set off with commas. For example: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the musical genius, initially became famous as a child prodigy. Another use of commas is to indicate direct address when the addressed person is called by name. The use of commas depends on the placement of a direct address in the sentence. For instance: Mike, I doubt that I am wrong, or I doubt, Mike, that I am wrong.

Commas are broadly utilized to set off direct quotations when introducing a dialogue. The rule states that the speaker should be identified by a name, noun, or pronoun used to refer to the speaker. Bothe the speaker identification item and the verb that indicated the process of speaking are enclosed with commas. For example: Mike said, “I go to the gym twice a week.” The last use of commas is with dates, addresses, titles, and numbers. There are specific rules for each of the above-mentioned cases. In the case with dates, the year is enclosed with two commas. For instance: On October 20, 1960, his mother was born. In addresses, each element except the zip code is set off with commas. Titles after the name are also enclosed with a pair of commas. Commas are also used in numbers that are four or more digits long to separate them into groups of three. For example: 999,999.

Personal Writing Barriers

Why am I not as a good writer as I like to be? In order to answer the question, it may be necessary to define what makes someone a good writer. Writing involves a number of diverse skills and abilities that complement each other and significantly influence the quality of writing. One of the most obvious and essential elements of good writing is good grammar. It is critical to be literate in order to provide high-quality writings that can be easily understood by other people and do not lead to misunderstanding. Even though modern technology offers numerous opportunities to check the paper for grammar mistakes, it is highly beneficial to be literate as it saves time. Another inseparable part of good writing is the general ability to speak and to provide an entertaining story or a well-articulated scholarly paper. Overall, becoming a good writer involves constantly improving a combination of the above-mentioned skills.

As with anything else, practice makes perfect, and writing is no exception. The best way to improve grammar and related writing skills is to write as much as possible. Unfortunately, writing may not always be as entertaining as other activities. Therefore, I frequently have to force myself to practice writing. Even more frequently, I fail at it and find something more exciting to do. I believe that lack of experience in writing is the most significant factor that prevents me from becoming a better writer. As a result, I am not used to providing long, comprehensive papers, and when necessary, writing always becomes a challenge for me. It may be highly beneficial to set a minimum of two or three paragraphs that I should write every day. Even though it might be hard to bring myself to write daily at first, with practice, it should become a fairly simple daily routine.

Another significant element of improving writing skills is reading as much as possible. As with any other activity, one of the best ways to learn is to look at the work of professionals. In the case with writing, reading brings people closer to the techniques and approaches of the world’s most famous writers. Even though I tend to read more and more every year, it may never be enough when it comes to reading. Diversifying sources and reading in my spare time may be the key to becoming a better writer. It may enrich my vocabulary, improve my grammar, and even provide inspiration. However, it may also be critical to monitor the quality of the readings as some papers available on the internet can do me a disservice. It may be beneficial to approach reading in a similar manner as practicing writing. Setting concrete daily goals for reading and consistently achieving them may significantly contribute to the improvement of writing skills.

As already mentioned, practicing writing and regularly reading may contribute to a variety of positive effects. However, it may not always be sufficient to confine with these two activities. Vocabulary plays a significant role in writing and has a considerable impact on the quality of papers. Therefore, I think that I should enrich my vocabulary in order to become a better writer. Even though reading may be beneficial in terms of learning new words, it may be essential to additionally look unfamiliar words up in the dictionary. Another personal writing barrier is insufficient knowledge of rules of grammar. Incorrect punctuation or inappropriate sentence structure may lower the quality of my papers. Hence, I should spend more time studying specific rules of grammar in general and particularly related to punctuation.

Last but not least, I am not as a good writer as I like to be because I frequently hesitate to seek help in assessing my writings. It may not always be possible to determine mistakes myself regardless of how long I proofread the paper. It may be vital to both ask other people for help and utilize digital technologies. Trading feedback with other writers and analyzing other people’s opinions is crucial in terms of improving writing skills. Honest criticism may not only improve grammar and vocabulary but positively influence overall sentence structure and flow. Using digital technologies in order to minimize grammar mistakes is also beneficial. However, it may be vital not only to rely on the technology but to avoid similar mistakes in the future.


Arivazhagan, N., Christodoulopoulos, C., & Roth, D. (2016). The Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. In Proceedings of the thirtieth Aaai conference on artificial intelligence (Vol. 30, Ser. 1, pp. 2885–2891). Phoenix, Arizona; Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

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