EDITING STRATEGIES:             

SUBJECT/VERB AGREEMENT

Find the main verb or the verb phrase in each sentence.  Look back for the subject and check for agreement. Get help with basic agreement problems with this link. 

VERB FORM

If you have a verb phrase, is the main verb the correct FORM for the tense and aspect (perfect, progressive) you are using?

 

  • Base form after modal auxiliaries: might go, should come, has to leave, must return
  • Base form after simple present, past, and future auxiliary verbs: doesn't have, didn't have, won't have
  • Past participle for passive and perfect forms:  was born, have had, had had
  • Present participle for progressive forms: is studying, was studying, has been studying, will had been studying, will be studying
Check the form and meaning of tenses with this link  
 
PRONOUN REFERENCE AND AGREEMENT
Skim for pronouns - especially for personal pronouns and demonstratives.
Look for the noun each pronoun replaces and check that the pronoun agrees with this noun. 
If there is no previous noun (antecedent) for the pronoun, change it to a noun. 

PARALLEL STRUCTURE

Skim for coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, so, for) that signal parallel structures.  Check that the items connected by these conjunctions have the same grammatical form: 

        noun + noun

        adjective + adjective
        verb phrase + verb phrase
        infinitive phrase + infinitive   phrase, etc.

WORD ORDER

Examine independent clauses for correct word order: 
S+V   (Wolves howl.) 
 
S+V+O   (Children fear wolves.) 
 
 S+V+O+Modifier   (Children fear strange noises at night.)
 
S+V+IO+DO  (Parents should give their children a lot of love.) *Don't use the preposition to or for when the indirect object precedes the direct object.

S+V+DO+IO  (Parents should give a lot of love to their children. Parents should also set a good example for their children.) *Use the preposition only when the indirect object follows the direct object.

 S+LV+Complement +Modifier   (Children become frightened easily.)
Look for correct adjective placement
 
 ADJ+NOUN   (She is a beautiful child.)
 
 LV+ADJ   (That child is beautiful.)
Make sure adverbs of frequency are before an action verb (usually works) and after the verb BE (was always late)
Make sure adverbs of manner (by bus) and adverbs of degree (very much) are in sentence-final position.
He came by bus.
He enjoyed the trip very much. 
 
Other adverbs of manner can follow the verb as in the sentence "He walked slowly to school."
WORD FORM
Make sure you used nouns, pronouns, or gerunds for subjects and for objects of verbs and prepositions. Infinitives are occasionally used as subjects. [To procrastinate is to invite failure.]
Check nouns for singular or plural form.
Check that you used an apostrophe for any possessive noun and the correct form of possessive adjectives and pronouns.
Make sure all adjective, noun, and adverb derivations have correct suffixes.

 

OMITTED WORDS

Check infinitives for "to" + base form of verb: I need to study.
Make sure you omitted infinitive "to" after causative verbs make, let, have as in "made me study."
Look over phrasal verbs for particles such as listen to  and take care of...
Check every singular count noun and make sure it is preceded by a definite or indefinite article or some other determiner like my book or this plan.
PUNCTUATION
Check this link for punctuation patterns for simple, compound, and complex sentences.
Check for commas after any of the following elements. If you have placed commas elsewhere, omit them.
  • between the name of a city and a state San Jose, California
  • after introductory phrases
  • after an introductory adverbial clause
  • before a coordinator joining two independent clauses
  • after a reporting verb introducing a quotation
  • after each item in a series joined by and
  • after a transition beginning a sentence
  • before and after a transition in the middle of one sentence
  • before and after any word, phrase, or clause giving extra information in the middle of a sentence, or before such an element if it is last in the sentence.
FRAGMENTS
Read aloud and make sure each sentence contains a subject and a verb.
If a clause has a dependent marker (a subordinator like because, after, when, who, etc.) make sure it is joined to an independent clause that has its own subject and verb. Check for these punctuation patterns:  DC, IC. OR IC DC.
If you find a period after a phrase, decide if the phrase belongs with the previous or following sentence.  Put the phrase within the sentence it belongs to and punctuate the full sentence correctly.
Go to the following link for further editing tips and explanations.

 

RUN-ON SENTENCES
See this link for further explanation.   
Begin reading from the last sentence in your paper to the first, covering the sentences above the one you're reading.  This way you can focus on each sentence, making sure it has all of the essential elements and end-of-sentence punctuation.
If you find two independent clauses running together without punctuation, place a period between them.
COMMA SPLICE
If you placed a comma between independent clauses, remove it and add a period.  If the two sentences joined incorrectly by the comma are closely related in meaning, you can use a semi-colon between them but never a comma.  You are always correct to use a period after every independent clause.
If the two sentences joined incorrectly by the comma are closely related in meaning, you can use a semi-colon between them. 
You are always correct to use a period after every independent clause.
SPELLING
Use spell check but watch out for homophones (road, rode) and commonly confused words. Check out this list for reference.