Resources for Multilingual Writers: Grammar, Style, Punctuation and Word Choice
-compiled by Margi Wald and Michelle Baptiste, College Writing Programs, UC Berkeley






Most Common Errors, terminology defined

Bedford/St. Martin's RE: Writing 

Dartmouth's Most Commonly Occurring Errors

Penguin's Common Errors Handbook

Penguin's ESL Common Errors Handbook



Don't Know Where to Start? Start Here:

Purdue OWL Grammar Handouts

Guide to Grammar and Writing

Good starting points for the basics

University of Richmond Writer's Web

UNC Writing Center Handouts/Links

Discussions that don’t oversimplify grammar points and debates

Bedford/St. Martin's Exercise Central

Multiple choice and sentence revising exercises on grammar and style

Technical and Scientific Writing

Mayfield Handbook -- great overview!

English Writing Suggestions for Chinese-Speaking Students




Online Dictionaries/Thesauruses


Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Collins Cobuild Advanced Dictionary

  Advanced learners’ dictionaries provide a definition, a sample sentence and some collocation and grammatical environment information for each word entered.


One Look Dictionary Search

This site allows you to choose from among numerous dictionaries, or check multiple ones, including a dictionary with a focus on etymology.


Wordnet Vocabulary Helper

A dictionary/thesaurus that provides definitions, synonyms, antonyms for each use of the word. Excellent sentence examples for all near synonyms.


The Free Dictionary

A dictionary/thesaurus that provides definitions of each of a word’s (near) synonyms


Oxford Collocation Dictionary

Why do we put these words together – “ We won by a narrow margin.” “It was a narrow victory.”  “We won by a wide margin.” – but not – “It was a wide victory.”?  What words go together and which don’t? This dictionary gives you lists of word combinations to help you build phrases around words.





The Compleat Lexical Tutor (quick searches)  

Corpus of Contemporary American English (larger corpus, more search options, free account required)

Concordances allow writers to search a search large corpus of real language in use to check for any word’s collocations and grammatical environments.



“Academic” or Strong Verbs vs. Phrasal Verbs


Overview of Two-Part (Phrasal) Verbs

For a list of phrasal verbs, see “Separable Phrasal Verbs,” “Inseparable Phrasal Verbs,” & “Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
Provides correct forms of phrasal verbs (get rid of) but more importantly, provides academic register alternatives (eliminate)



Academic Vocabulary Awareness Building


Academic Word List (AWL)

This site divides the Academic World List (the most common 808 English words in academic texts across disciplines (excluding the most common 2000 words).


ESL Desk: Academic Word List

This site allows you to click on each academic word list item and learn its definition and use.


Vocabulary Profiler

This site allows you to analyze your papers or any other text for types of vocabulary (common word list and academic word list words) and level of repetition in word choice.

Rhetorical Functions in Academic Writing

Click on "Functions" in the lefthand menu. This site provides vocabulary (and related grammar structures) commonly used to achieve specific writing purposes: talking about charts/graphs, describing developments, reporting/narrating, etc.


Word Choice: Meaning and Use

This document outlines for writers all the things a writer needs to know about a word to use it correctly in one’s writing.







Grammar Handbooks: Appositives

Recognizing and Punctuating Appositives

Building Sentences with Appositives

Using Appositives to Modify and Describe
Using Appositives to Define Terms (scroll down to part 7b)



Article Use (a, an, the, Ņ)


Using Articles

Four Basic Questions to Ask to Uncover which Article to Use (may load slowly but worth the wait)

Article Usage -- In-Depth Discussion and Strategies

More Great Rules and Strategies





Faulty Comparisons


Count & Non-Count Nouns (important for subject-verb agreement and article use)


Nouns and Articles

Count and Non-Count Nouns + How to Use Them

More on How to Use Them

Articles, Determiners and Qualifiers



Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers


The Misplaced Modifier

Dangling Modifers and How to Correct Them

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers



  Pronoun Referent-Antecedent Agreement


Unclear Pronoun Reference

Common Pronoun Problems

Solving Pronoun Agreement Problems (The Big Three)


Subject-Verb Agreement


Subject and Verb Agreement

Twelve Tricky Agreement Issues

Exercise Central Tutorial and Exercises (see left-hand menu)



Verb Tense


Verb Tense Use and Consistency

Use of Tenses in Academic Writing

More on Use of Tenses in Academic Writing
The Use of the Literary Present when Writing about Texts

Active Voice for verbs that express increase/decrease

Overview of Tense Use, Examples and Forms



Word Form

Confused vs. confusing: which to use?
Exercises + a quiz on distinguishing –ed vs. –ing adjectives
Word Form Grammar Tutorial
Word Forms
Suffixes that correlate with certain parts of speech (e.g., “ion” for nouns)






Sentence Boundaries


Fixing comma splices

How to identify and correct comma splices

Avoiding run-ons--examples of well-punctuated sentences

How to identify and revise fragments

Fragment types and ways to expand them into complete sentences

Clause vs. Phrase




A brief overview of the semi-colon, colon, parentheses, dash, quotation marks, & italics

A brief overview of punctuating sentences


The Comma
Conquering the Comma (PPT presentation)
Extended Rules for Using Commas
Punctuation with That/Which
Commas with Which/Who: Restrictive v. Non-Restrictive


The Semicolon

When to and Not to Use It


The Colon
Using colons

The Dash
Proper Use of the Dash


The Apostrophe

Three Main Uses



Punctuating Titles of Outside Sources







Sentence Structure


Simple, Compound, Complex, Compound-Complex Sentence Examples

Dependent/Independent Clauses

Sentence Variety (Coming soon.)

Focuses on three elements of variety -- length, structure, beginnings – and provides strategies for analyzing one’s one paper

Varying Sentence Beginnings


Parallel Structure


Purdue OWL: Parallel Structure

Rhetoric -- Parallelism (see pp. 50-52)

Columns on Parallel Structure: explain the power of parallelism





Seven Stylistic Principles to Consider

Eliminating Wordiness

Advice on how to delete the unnecessary “that,” “it,” “which,” “there,” “to be” + nominalizations and combine sentences or revise sentences using strong active verbs or a colon

Features of Academic Writing -- Formality

Includes principles and exercises to recraft colloquial, informal sentences into more formal ones.



Passive Voice


When to – and not to – use passive structures

Using passive voice sparingly