Our Blog - Writing Help and Grammar Tips

When I was an undergraduate, submitting an essay meant just that: printing out an essay, making sure my name was on it and handing it in to a professor or teaching assistant. On my first day as a teaching assistant at the University of Toronto, though, I was in for a surprise. The professor for this course wanted something more than just the essay. 


Yes, the idea of writing an essay sounds dull and boring to many people (and sometimes even yours truly) but if you master the skills needed to write a truly great essay, such as analysing data and information, persuasion, and expressing yourself concisely, while at school they’ll serve you for a lifetime. So bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you need a refresher!

Imagine receiving the following email from a friend at your college.  

I’m wondering if you can help me. Admin has set up a series of info meetings next week for local high school students who are thinking of coming here, and I got an invite to act as a group leader. There shouldn’t be too much prep involved except for making some promo materials like posters and a brochure. I thought of writing inserts for the brochure using quotes from senior students. Have you heard any good ones I could use as ammo to help convince the students to come here?

Did the sender’s word choices seem fine to you? Or did any of them strike you as odd? Depending on how sensitive you are to formal English, there are eight words in that message that will strike some people - especially professors - as being incorrect. Do you know what they are?

Where did the (e)d go?

Sometimes when you read a sentence the grammar seems a bit off, but you aren't sure why.

For example, what if I write "I am suppose to know these things; I have a PhD"? Does that sentence seem correct to you? Some grammar and spell checkers won't be able to find the error in that sentence, because, after all, there are many times when “suppose” is the correct verb form to use. Just consider the sentences I suppose you want more money? or What do you suppose happened? However, in my sentence above, it should say: "I am supposed to know these things." 

So why is "suppose" correct sometimes, and "supposed" correct sometimes?

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