UM-Tupelo Writing Center Resources

Pocket Grammar Survival Guide

Affect or Effect?

Remember RAVEN

Affect is a
Verb and
Effect is a

If something or someone is undergoing change, you should use affect. If you are talking about the results of an action, you should use effect.

Then or Than?

Are you talking about time, or making a comparison?

You should use then when you are discussing the passing of time. For example: Jake woke up, and then had breakfast.
You should use than when you are comparing two or more things.
For example: Anna likes dogs more than she likes cats.

Its or It's?

One is possessive!

It's is a contraction of it is.
For example: Alex said that it's not a big deal.
Its implies possession.
For example: Henry returned the phone to its owner.

Your or You're?

Is it something being done, or something that is owned?

Your is a possessive adjective.
For example: Your phone is ringing.
You're is a contraction of you are.
For example: You're going to the movies.

There, Their, or They're?

Is it a place, possessive, or a contraction?

There should be used when referring to a place.
For example: Mike left the book over there.
Their is a possessive pronoun.
For example: They said that their jacket is blue.
They're is a contraction of they are.
For example: They're going to be late.

Quick Tips

What are 'Good' Sources?


  • Peer-Reviewed papers, journals, and articles
  • Articles from major news sources
  • Most sites ending, .gov, or .org
  • Textbooks


  • Papers, journals, and articles that do not come from credible locations
  • Blogs or other Internet forums
  • Wikipedia

Not Sure if Your Source is Credible?

Ask these questions:

  • Did the author list their sources?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Have you heard of the website before?
  • Is it current (hint: check the copyright date)?
  • Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?

What is a Thesis Statement?

It’s the main idea of your essay! A good thesis statement is specific, and it lets readers know exactly what your essay is going to be about. It is usually placed at the end of your first paragraph.

Having Trouble Proofreading?

Here are some strategies that may help:

  • Read your paper out loud! It's easier to find mistakes when you hear yourself read them aloud.
  • Take a break and come back to it later. If you are tired or frustrated, you are less likely to see small errors.
  • Switch things up and read your paper from the end to the beginning.
  • Make an appointment at the Writing Center! Our consultants will not only help you spot any mistakes, but they will also help find a proofreading strategy that works for you!


Need additional help or assistance with other writing scenarios? The Tupelo Writing Center is proud to offer students the opportunity to attend free workshops designed to address common writing questions, difficulties, and concerns. Topics include:

  • Planning a paper
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Revision strategies
  • APA and other citation styles
  • Common grammatical errors
  • Using sources in your writing

Keep an eye out for announcements on upcoming workshops. Dates, times, and topics will be published throughout the semester. Workshops are held in a small group setting and free snacks and refreshments are usually offered.