Every language or dialect has structural patterns in which words, phrases, and clauses normally occur. These patterns or rules reflect how meaning is made within a given language. For linguists, the word “grammar” refers to this set of structural patterns and rules.
In academic writing and publishing, it is more appropriate to understand grammar as a set of prescriptive norms – correct and incorrect ways to form sentences. Grammatical correctness is based on a shared set of conventions and standards. Sometimes these conventions shift over time, and structures once considered incorrect can become accepted – for example, using “their” instead of “his or her.”
Adhering to standards of grammatical correctness is an important skill to develop and display in academic writing. It shows your familiarity with academic norms and standards, as well as your attention to detail, both of which serve to enhance your credibility as a researcher and a scholar.
The Thesis Processing Office maintains a list of common grammatical errors; for more information, see the links below.