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National Grammar Day (yesterday)

Dona Le - Friday, March 05, 2010
As yesterday, March 4th, was National Grammar Day, the Sibia Proofreading team thought that you might enjoy these photos.  Take a look and see if you can spot the grammar mistakes!

Formulating a Strong Thesis Statement

Dona Le - Friday, February 12, 2010

As soon as you begin writing essays in school, instructors always stress the importance of a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement serves as a launching pad, so to speak, for the rest of your essay. A poorly written or weak thesis statement will sap the strength of your ensuing argument; on the other hand, a clear and well-argued thesis will garner the reader’s interest and lend additional structure to your essay. Through your thesis, you articulate to the reader the topic and purpose of the text.

More Than a Topic Indicator

Your thesis must reveal more to the reader than simply the topic of the essay. In fact, the entire introduction already serves that purpose. A good introduction presents pertinent background information regarding the topic at hand, so that your thesis is couched in a relatable, comprehensive context.

State Your Argument

Instead of simply glossing over the points you will mention in your essay, the thesis statement must present your argument. This is another way to confirm whether or not you have developed a strong argument for your paper, too!  You should be able to encapsulate a compelling argument or present a discussable viewpoint within this single-sentence thesis.

Be Specific, Clear, and Concise

For a thesis statement to be compelling, you must avoid generalizations and bland statements. Your thesis should be able to elicit a conscious response from the reader – whether “agree” or “disagree” – instead of being a mere observation or recounting of facts. In order to make your argument clear, you should be as specific as possible in your thesis. Furthermore, present your argument concisely, without trying to cram in every point you will make later in the essay. After all, those details will be explored in the rest of the essay!

Sibia Proofreading provides comprehensive editing and proofreading services that enhance not only your style of writing and grammar, but also help you to strengthen your essay structure and argument!

Why Writing Skills Are Important

Dona Le - Friday, February 05, 2010

Today, most applications you will ever submit, whether for an academic program or employment position, require that you submit writing samples. For example, applicants to graduate school programs must submit academic writing samples. Certain job applications also ask that you provide a sample of your writing, whether academic or professional.

What is the significance of the writing sample? What are potential employers or admissions officers seeking?

Writing skills are vital to nearly any endeavor you undertake because communication is key.

As a student, you must be able to articulate your opinions clearly and concisely in academic essays and theses. The language you use must be of the appropriate level, and you should employ sufficiently sophisticated vocabulary correctly and with dexterity. Your writing skills must be of the highest quality, so that whoever grading your paper can focus on the content of your text, instead of marking off points for grammatical errors, etc.

As an employee, communication skills are also crucial because you must interact on a daily basis with fellow colleagues and superiors, as well as with representatives of external firms. Often, the methods of communication used include email, letters, memos, and reports, all of which require top-notch writing skills. Employers select applicants who will best represent their companies through flawless communication methods.

We hope that the Sibia Proofreading blog provides you with useful tips to improve your writing. You can also have your writing samples thoroughly edited and proofread, prior to submission for that all-important application, by one of our expert editors!

Separable and Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Dona Le - Friday, January 29, 2010

Certain verbs are idiomatically attached to particular prepositions or adverbs to form a verb expression with a new meaning. Examples of phrasal verbs include: catch on, look after, hear of, set up, and calm down.

Among these phrasal verbs, some are separable, meaning that the verb does not have to be followed by its attached preposition immediately. The meaning of the sentence remains clear, whether or not the verb and its attached preposition or adverb are next to one another.

+ Common Separable Phrasal Verbs

write down, add up, turn down, check out, write out, point out, try on, call off, leave out, switch off

+ Examples of separable phrasal verbs are below:

1a. The professor instructed us to write down the information.

1b. The professor instructed us to write the information down.

2a. The couple is attempting to work out their problems with a marriage counselor.

2b. The couple is attempting to work their problems out with a marriage counselor.

On the other hand, some phrasal verbs are inseparable, so the verb must be directly followed by its preposition or adverb. Otherwise, the meaning of the phrasal verb will be lost, as evidenced by the following examples of incorrect sentences.

+ Common Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

disagree with, tell on, get on, get off, settle on, talk over, look after, care for, hear from, run against

+ Examples of the correct and incorrect usage of inseparable phrasal verbs are as follows:

            1a. (correct) The child will tell on the bully so that the teacher punishes him for his behavior.

            1b. (incorrect) The child will tell the bully on so that the teacher punishes him for his behavior.

            2a. (correct) I came down with a severe cold and was therefore unable to attend the function.

            2b. (incorrect) I came with a severe cold down and was therefore unable to attend the function.

It can often be difficult for writers, particularly those whose first language is not English, to determine whether a phrasal verb is separable or inseparable. To ensure that your writing remains flawless, send in (a separable verb!) your document to Sibia Proofreading today!

Subordinate Clauses

Dona Le - Friday, January 22, 2010
Subordinate (or dependant) clauses are extremely useful because they add texture and depth to your writing. A subordinate clause includes a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone as a sentence. Instead, it simply enhances the meaning of an independent clause, which is a complete sentence by itself.

In order to introduce a subordinate clause, you must use a subordinating conjunction, also known as a subordinator. Some subordinators include when, whenever, if, because, while, and unless.

Below are three examples of subordinate clauses, which are italicized for emphasis.

1)     You should proofread your essays because demonstrating that you have strong writing skills is essential to a high grade.

2)     Whenever my English teacher grades our papers, she checks for correct subject-verb agreement.

3)     I submitted my final essay several hours before the deadline, although I was tempted to procrastinate and finish it later.

However, subordinate clauses can obscure sentence meanings when they are placed inappropriately. Be sure that your subordinate clause does not disrupt the logic and flow of your independent clause.

Clear sentences

The flight may be delayed for a few hours, if the snow continues to fall at this rate.

If the snow continues to fall at this rate, the flight may be delayed for a few hours.

Unclear sentences

The flight, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, may be delayed for a few hours.

The flight may be delayed, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, for a few hours.

For a few hours, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, the flight may be delayed.

Again, the appropriate use of subordinate clauses can enrich your text greatly. If you remain unclear about how to construct subordinate clauses, you can obtain first-class editing and proofreading assistance from Sibia Proofreading editors!

More Confusing Words

Dona Le - Friday, January 15, 2010

Confusing Words

Even experienced writers often make mistakes regarding the following words. Check out the following to make sure that you’re not one of those writers!

Canvas v. Canvass

Canvas is a type of fabric; to canvass is to examine or to solicit votes.


To allude to something means to refer to it; to elude means to avoid.


Advice is a noun, indicating the useful guidance or assistance you may receive; to advise is the verb form of the same.


Articles of clothing are what people wear, such as pants, sweaters, shirts, and so on; cloths are (pieces of) fabrics.

Everyday/every day

Everyday describes something that occurs commonly or daily; every day means literally every single day.

Avoid committing errors when using such words as those listed above, and submit your document to Sibia Proofreading for our expert editors’ proofreading services!

Happy New Year!

Dona Le - Friday, January 01, 2010

We at Sibia Proofreading hope that you’ve enjoyed a very peaceful and happy holiday season. We would like to sincerely thank past customers for selecting our services, and we hope to continue our relationship with you in the coming year. Sibia Proofreading also looks forward to working with new customers who may find our extensive editing and proofreading services helpful.

To usher in the new year, we’re providing three essential tips that are applicable to students, authors of fiction, business writers––everybody!

Your readers are smarter than you think.

Though it may be irresistible to highlight certain points you deem to be important, refrain from repeating yourself. Belaboring the point may actually annoy your reader or cause the reader to lose interest entirely.

Excessively sophisticated vocabulary is not always best.

To be sure, you want to demonstrate that you have a strong command of a wide range of vocabulary. However, you should not blindly resort to your thesaurus. You should only incorporate words that you fully understand and use appropriately.

Quality is more significant than quantity.

Though you may believe that your readers will find a lengthier document more impressive, this is not necessarily true. Readers value quantity over quality. A long, rambling and incoherent document will not score you any points. Instead, pack your document with punch; write concisely and meaningfully.

Best wishes to you in the new year!  Submit any assignments or documents you write this year to Sibia Proofreading, so that our excellent editors can perfect them!

Subject-Verb Agreement in Longer Sentences

Dona Le - Friday, December 25, 2009

One commonly committed mistake in writing includes violating the rules of subject-verb agreement. These errors are quite basic and easy to discern, so continue below to discover how you can avoid making them.

Make sure that the verb you use is always conjugated correctly, given the subject of your sentence. For example, “Smith et al. claim,” but “one researcher claims….”  Usually, when the subject and verb are directly next to one another, any mistakes can be easy to discern.

The issue arises in more complicated sentences in which the subject and verb may be separated by a descriptive clause, for example. In such cases, some writers make the mistake of matching the verb with the word that immediately precedes it.  Sound confusing?  The example below should help.

Example: The medication prescribed by many doctors were in fact harmful.

The subject of the sentence is “the medication.”  The verb is “to be,” conjugated in the sentence above as “were.”

As “the medication” is a singular noun, the corresponding verb should be conjugated as “was.”

However, because “doctors” precedes the sentence’s verb, some writers may not catch this mistake. Instead, under careless proofreading, “doctors were” looks correct.

The above example should in fact be rewritten:

Correction: The medication prescribed by many doctors was in fact harmful.

To be absolutely certain that your document is flawless, check out Sibia Proofreading's editing/proofreading and proofreading services! If you have any questions, contact us for more information. We look forward to receiving your document!

Writing in the Appropriate Academic or Formal Tone

Dona Le - Friday, December 18, 2009

When proofreading academic and business documents, Sibia Proofreading editors pay special attention to the tone of the text.  Some people write the way they speak, and many people speak – as expected – conversationally, and thus, informally. However, your PhD dissertation must feature academic language, just as a business letter should adopt a consistently formal tone. What do we mean?

Nix All Contractions

This is a strict rule that we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. Unless it is contained within a direct quote or is part of a character’s dialogue, using a contraction is generally inappropriate.

Avoid Colloquial Descriptions

Sure, you might describe the latest action flick you saw as “awesome,” but refrain from writing that you would like to “attend ---- University because it offers an awesome PhD program.” Instead, you could describe the program as “highly respected,” “excellent,” “high caliber,” and so on.

“Great” is another overused adjective, but instead of saying that some author presents “a great argument,” you should write that the author presents a “very strong” or “compelling” argument.


Really is another conspicuous word because it is not sufficiently formal and can usually be replaced by a better and more accurate word. For example, an applicant may write that she is “really excited about the opportunity to work for Company X.”  This could be better expressed as “truly” or “extremely” excited.

A researcher might emphasize the importance of his study results by describing them as “really surprising.” Instead, he should write that the study results are quite/very/rather/extremely surprising. These alternate word choices retain the emphasis on the nature of the study results without resorting to overly casual language.

Other simple replacements to refine your language and make it more formal are as follows:

Instead of:

            “to look at” – investigate, explore, examine, consider

            “to say that …” – argue, claim, propose, put forth, state

            “I want to …” – would like to, am interested in, look forward to, hope to

            “I will …” – aim to, plan to, intend to

For more expertise on this subject, send your document to Sibia Proofreading! Our knowledgeable editors are experts at revising text to ensure it employs the appropriate tone for your target readers.

Tips for Effective Proofreading

Dona Le - Friday, December 11, 2009

It is a good (and necessary!) practice to proofread your own work before submitting it to your editor, instructor, dissertation advisor, supervisor, anybody!  Of course, you can always send your work to Sibia Proofreading for our services, but in case you want to have a first run at the document yourself, check out our advice below.

-          Omit repetitive sentences. Many writers, to emphasize a point, simply repeat the same sentence in slightly altered wording. However, this is only irritating to the intelligent reader; if you want to emphasize a point, use emphatic language and be concise!

-          Carefully review spelling errors that your word processor’s spellcheck won’t necessarily catch, i.e., except/accept, their/there, roll/role, alter/altar

-          Write out all of the contractions you may have inadvertently included. Furthermore, the first time an acronym appears, make sure the full title it represents is spelled out clearly.

-          Make sure you can clearly identify the thesis statement, as well as the topic and conclusion sentences in each paragraph.

-          Revise overly long or wordy sentences. For example, your meaning can be easily lost if the sentence subject is placed too far away from its corresponding verb. Review these sentences with fresh eyes and break them up into shorter sentences, if necessary, to clarify your point.

-          Watch out for sentence fragments. While completing your paper, you may have rewritten certain sentences too quickly or revised the punctuation in such a way that results in an incomplete sentence.

-          Of course, correct any grammatical or punctuation errors you find throughout your document. Don’t speed-read, even though the tendency to do so is powerful, as you are familiar with the content. Pore over every detail to make sure the appropriate quotation marks, commas, apostrophes, etc. are inserted.

The information above should be of some use to you while proofreading your work. However, for topnotch editing and proofreading services, get in touch with Sibia Proofreading, and our expert editors can help you out, catching all of the above errors and more!

Sibia Proofreading Blog

Last Posted: Never | Total Posts: 53

Sibia Proofreading Blog

Last Posted: Never | Total Posts: 53