2.4: Spelling and Punctuation
Conventions of Edited American English
When you are in a rush to get your ideas on paper, it can be easy to overlook sentence-level correctness. However, carefully editing your composition for correctness is an important step to writing the GED essay. Following conventions of Edited American English (EAE) is one factor readers will use to score your essay. This lesson provides information about the conventions of EAE. The lesson also provides examples of common errors and how to correct them. Lastly, the lesson discusses strategies for finding and correcting your own errors. As you review ESE and practice finding your errors, the lessons for Part I of the Language Arts Writing Test might also be useful.
You may initially feel overwhelmed by the task of proofreading for Edited American English. Part of this is that “Edited American English” sounds like a pretty broad term, and it can be hard to know where to begin. However, there are a number of specifics you should review. Once you know what these are, proofreading becomes a less intimidating task. The conventions of EAE that you should look for when proofreading are listed below.
- Spelling: Is each word correctly spelled?
- Punctuation: Have you used periods, question marks, commas, colons, and other punctuation marks correctly?
- Complete Sentences: Are all of your sentences complete, and neither fragment nor run-on sentences?
- Sentence Structure: Do you vary the sentence structure you use?
- Subject-Verb Agreement: Do the subjects and verbs in each sentence agree?
- Verb Tense: Is each verb in the correct tense?
- Capital Letters: Do you use capital letters correctly?
The list below includes many common errors that writers make. Reviewing this list will help you know what to look for when proofreading your own writing. With time, you will get used to the errors that you make most often. Using this list will also help you proofread because you will understand what errors to look out for when revising your writing.
IE/EI: Words like “receive” and “their” often cause problems for writers because it is so hard to remember whether the “i” or the “e” comes first.
You’ve probably heard the rule below before. Keep it in mind while checking your IE/EI words.
Write I before E
Except after C
Or when it sounds like an A
As in "neighbor" and "weigh"
There are a few exceptions to the rule: seize, either, weird, height, foreign, leisure, conscience, counterfeit, forfeit, leisure, neither, science, species, sufficient.
Homonyms: These are words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Even very experienced writers have difficulty with homonyms, especially when writing quickly. Below are some words that people commonly confuse:
- Your/You’re, Whose/Who’s and Its/It’s
Comma splices: A comma splice occurs when you try to link two main clauses with just a comma, as in the following:
I enjoy watching television, I really like reality shows.
You can correct a comma splice by adding a conjunction (and, but, for, or, so, yet):
I enjoy watching television, and I really like reality shows.
Apostrophes: Remember that you need an apostrophe ( ‘ ) each time you show possession (as in, Mike’s house) or use a contraction (as in, they’re for they are or he’s for he is). You don’t need an apostrophe when making a word plural (as in, Rachel has four cats).