Banner Viadrina

Language Accuracy on the essay

The 'language' criteria relate to traditional English language skills, such as the proper usage of grammar, idiom and vocabulary. Remember also that punctuation (e.g. commas, decimal points, apostrophes) does matter!

Here are a few very common mistakes:

Grammar, constructions and expressions:

Time expressions: "The U.S. has been fighting terrorism for many years". But: "The U.S. has been fighting terrorism since 2001."

Use "Concerning", ""With regard to" or "regarding".

--> do  NOT use "referring to" as most students use it incorrectly!


Names of peoples, countries and places and their adjectives need a capital e.g. an English meal.


1. Do NOT use a comma to introduce a subordinate clause ("Nebesatz"). E.g. "I told him that you were coming."

2. Do NOT use commas to separate relative clauses which define what you are talking about E.g:

The man who came to dinner was my uncle

But DO use them when the relative calsue is not definining, but simply giving some more information, e.g.

His uncle, who I had met previously, came to dinner.


We say "nature", NOT "the nature" and in most cases,"unemployment" and "pollution" (no article)

But we say "the countryside", "the environment", "the economy".

Articles before abbreviations:

NATO (no article, because it forms a word)


the U.N., the U.S., the I.R.A. (where we pronounce the individual letters)


intend and intent
interpret not interprete
there and their
whose and who's

Further Tips

Some more hints can be found on proof reading here

A very useful site for common language mistakes is the Penguin Handbook

There are also a number of other addresses with grammar help that you can find on the web. These include The "Top Ten List" of common errors by Karen Gocsik of Dartmouth College (this site also gives further interesting advice on composition).

The Internet provides a great wealth of resources for learning English.  A quick search (try for example, "learning English" at will lead you to hundreds of pages.  The Selbstlernzentrum (AB 016) also has a lot of material, including books on writing (and, of course, Internet access).