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Medical manuscript writing - Know your grammar rules

Medical Manuscript Writing – Know your Grammar Rules

Do you fear writing your first medical manuscript?

Is the language of English the biggest hurdle in writing your manuscript?

If yes, we can understand your fears. English is often considered as the most difficult and tricky language to learn. Probably due to its tricky grammar rules or exceptions to these rules.

For example, the past tense of “sit” is “sat”, but the past tense of “hit” is “hit”. Similarly, “overlook” and “oversee” are words with a different meaning, but “look” and “see” are synonyms.

Therefore, it becomes very tricky to take care of such grammar rules while medical manuscript writing.

However, we make it easy for you. Just remember these three aspects of English grammar to write a perfect and error-free manuscript.

1) Tenses

It’s important to use the right tense in your research paper; when the things happened or will happen.  Use the same tense throughout your paper. If you write your research paper in the past tense, stick to it.

There are four types of past tense in English:

  • Past simple: It is the basic form of past tense in English and talks about the action completed in the recent or the distant past. It includes adding‘d’, ‘ed’, or ‘ied’ to the base form of the verb. e.g.  ‘We mixed the solutions’
  • Past continuous:It describes the actions which began in the past and are still going on. e.g. ‘We were mixing the solutions’
  • Past perfect:  This tense talk about the actions that were completed before a point in the past. e.g. ‘We had mixed the solutions’
  • Past perfect continuous: It describes an ongoing action that started in the past and continued for some time in the past. e.g. ‘We had been mixing the solutions’

Don’t change the tense in between your sentences or paragraphs. It will only confuse the readers and they will fail to understand the essence of your ideas.

For example, A tiny bird sits on the ground, close to the nest. The bird cries out for its mother. Several people passed by, looked at it, but no one touches the bird.

Can you observe the inconsistency of the tenses in this paragraph? Doesn’t it confuse you?

2) Punctuation

Presence or absence of a simple comma can change the meaning of a sentence. For example:

“Let’s eat, Joseph!” and

“Let’s eat Joseph!”

The meaning changes when you use a comma, a colon or a semicolon in a sentence. Keep your sentences short and simple to make sure the readers understand their meaning.

The second difficulty arises with the use of apostrophes. They are tricky for native and non-native speakers alike. Apostrophes are used for two purposes:

  • To show possession – the child’s book
  • In abbreviations – that’s instead of that is, doesn’t instead of does not

Remember, for plurals which include numbers, do not use an apostrophe. Like apples, not apple’s and 1980s, not 1980’s.

3) Word types

Nearly 50% of the English language comprises of nouns, the names of things, people and places. These words are the most simple and impossible to go wrong, but other words in the sentence can be challenging. Here are some examples.

  • Articles: When to use the article and which one to use can be confusing. “the” is used to refer to something specific like “write all the key points”. “A” and “an” are used for general things. “An” is used before a word that starts with a vowel sound like “an electric charge” and “a” is used for words that start with a consonant sound. E.g. “a friendly mail”.
  • Prepositions: Prepositions like about, besides, below, between, above, etc. tell you where something is, and using the right one will guide the reader through your research. When in doubt, check it with your editor.

English might be tough, but it’s not impossible. Just convey the right meaning of the sentences and present your research manuscript in an understandable and reproducible way.

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