WINDSOR TERRACE — Knowing the difference between they’re and their when writing a sentence can make a big difference in a student’s life, according to educators.
The practice of good grammar and proper spelling is becoming a lost art. Still, academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn keep up the tradition by teaching students things like the difference between a colon and a semicolon.
“We emphasize good grammar,” said Marylou Celmer, principal of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy in Cypress Hills.
The lessons start early so that students have a strong foundation.
“We start in kindergarten. The kindergarten teacher talks to the students about periods, question marks, and exclamation points,” Celmer explained.
Students learn early not to put too many commas in a sentence.
Muriel Wilkinson, principal of Our Lady of Trust Catholic Academy in Canarsie, starts her students young to get them used to proper punctuation at an early age and has her teachers incorporate grammar into all subject areas.
“In every subject, we emphasize good grammar — religion, social studies, all areas. The teachers do send back essays if the grammar is not correct,” she said.
“This foundation helps them. I think students have an advantage if they can punctuate correctly. They’re not relying on pushing a button on a computer to correct it for them,” Wilkinson added.
Brainly.com, a homework helper website, recently surveyed 1,700 high school students across the country to find out what they think are the most common grammatical spelling errors their peers make.
According to the survey, the most common was mixing up the words they’re, their, and there, with 32 percent of the respondents saying they frequently see other students make that mistake.
Other common errors: confusing it’s and its, too and to, and who and whom.
“While grammar can be a common source of stress for both students and parents alike, it’s an important subject for people to master, so kids are able to express themselves and their ideas effectively,” said Patrick Quinn, a parenting expert at Brainly.
Parents play an important role, according to Quinn. “One way for parents to encourage kids to learn good grammar habits is to review their written assignments before they turn them in, so they can be made aware of any errors and learn how to fix them,” he said.
The survey also asked the students for their views on people with bad grammar — 53 percent said that bad grammar is a dating deal-breaker; 36 percent confessed that writing essays causes more stress than other types of homework, and 43 percent said their most common grammar mistake is not knowing when to use a comma or not.