Grammar is more than just a set of rules to follow when constructing sentences; it is an agreed code and structure for writing that helps us communicate ideas clearly to avoid misunderstanding. Clear and accurate communication is needed when writing about complex ideas in our academic work. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.  

Take an Academic English course

Learning grammatical rules is often best done in a class with the opportunity to practise and clarify your understanding. The Centre for Academic Development runs modules and workshops that can help you learn grammar as part of the requirements of different types of writing in a UK university. As well as developing your grammar, these classes can also help develop your critical 'voice' and confidence. Final year undergraduates and postgraduates can also benefit from academic language consultations. 

Confidence with the basics

Even if English is your first language, you may never have been taught English grammar rules at school. As a result, you might have an instinctive grasp of grammar, but you may not be confident about exactly why and when you should use things like an apostrophe or a comma. See the guides below for overviews of the basic points of grammar: 

Test yourself

Identify your common errors and practice applying the main grammatical rules. This guide has clear explanations of common confusions and short multiple choice questions to test yourself.

Use grammar checkers thoughtfully

Microsoft Word and Google Docs both have inbuilt grammar checkers which add a wiggly line under potential mistakes and offer suggestions. It can be helpful to use this function thoughtfully to see where you have made errors so you can correct them. However, trusting them completely and making changes without being aware of why something has been highlighted as an error can cause problems as the suggestion may not convey the meaning you want. Using the inbuilt function to spot errors is a good start, but it is also good to understand why it is grammatically incorrect. The same advice goes for grammar apps like Grammarly. These apps may offer more advanced options than the inbuilt functions in Word, but they can still distort your writing if you accept them without thinking.

Academic writing

Correct grammar is a part of appropriately formal academic writing. See our page on Academic Writing for more: