Grammar and the Role of Writing Center Tutors as Teachers of Grammar


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Grammar and the Role of Writing Center Tutors as Teachers of Grammar Communication in any form requires a protocol. The evolution of language from sounds into words is proof of that. People recognized that in order for two people to understand each other, they must have a common code that will allow each one to transmit and receive signals accurately. If the word “red” signified two different colors to two different people, for example, then there would be a breakdown of communication. Language has grown complex over time and in its current form, it enables users to communicate with precision and nuance.


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There was no talk of dangling modifiers, adverbial phrases or any other “scary” thing! I know that the student benefited from this because his understanding of his own grammatical errors improved drastically over the next two sessions, so that I didn’t have to deal with grammar at all after that, and we focused on the content of his papers instead. Shaughnessy deals with various commonly occurring grammatical errors that plague students. Her essay is not written for those students—it is written for teachers and tutors. It is worth noting that while The Practical Tutor does not make use of technical terms, Shaughnessy is unapologetic in her use of those terms.


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Since the predicate is essentially the verb and the object of a sentence, I basically showed him that sentences have an SVO (subject-verb-object, or as I put it in this conversation, subject-predicate) structure. Now the student can look at one of his longer sentences and say, “This sentence looks like it has two subjects and three predicates. Let me rewrite it into shorter sentences so that I can be sure that I’m not making any grammatical mistakes.” The discussed grammatical terms have become embedded into the student’s brain and pre-existing concepts fall into place, becoming linked with the appropriate term. Now, retrieving a rule becomes far simpler because the student can use the term “run-on sentence” without consciously have to process the full explanation of that concept. This saves time and effort, and makes it easier for the student to work with SWE.


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