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Essay Writing Guidelines Mechanics

Writing Mechanics & Grammar

Learning grammar rules and the mechanics of writing are critical components of learning to write.  Having strong skills in writing and grammar allows writers to get their message or story to their readers in a clear and understandable way.  It is important to know the rules of grammar and how to use them properly.

Time4Writing.com is a useful site to find resources to help students improve their familiarity with writing and grammar. You’ll find free writing resources covering capitalization, parts of speech, and punctuation. The articles on each topic provide additional guidance and students can practice their skills using activities that include video lessons, printable worksheets and quizzes, standardized test prep materials, and interactive games. For a more in-depth look at the mechanics of writing, eight-week courses are available.

Parents and educators can use these resources to motivate students and reinforce skills. Students can gain a better understanding of writing and grammar as well as boost their confidence and expand their skills with online practice.

Parts of Speech

Knowing the parts of speech, using them correctly, and understanding how they relate to one another is an important early step in creating strong writing skills. From nouns and verbs to prepositions and conjunctions, each part of speech plays a key role in sentence structure and clarity of thought. ... Read More »

Subject-Verb Agreement

The question of subject-verb agreement highlights a writer’s need to make sentences clear and understandable. Having plural subjects with singular verbs, or the reverse, results in nobody being quite sure who is doing what. This becomes particularly important when long phrases separate the subject from the verb. Learning about and understanding subject-verb agreement helps writers create clear sentences that the reader will understand. ... Read More »


In a world of lowercase texting, learning proper capitalization takes on a whole new meaning. From learning to distinguish between “capitonyms” (a turkey in Turkey, a march in March) to learning the basic rules of capitalization, students have much to gain from mastering this area of writing mechanics. ... Read More »


Punctuation marks are signposts used by writers to give directions to their readers about which way a sentence is going. Using punctuation properly is one of the most crucial elements in making the meaning of the sentence absolutely clear. Take our favorite example: “Let’s eat Grandma!” becomes considerably less worrisome when a single comma is added … “Let’s eat, Grandma!” ... Read More »

Homophones, Homonyms, Homographs

Some of the most interesting words in English are homophones, homonyms, and homographs. However, intrigue can quickly give way to confusion when dealing with sound-alikes and look-alikes! Learning the distinction between identical spellings with two different pronunciations or two different spellings with identical pronunciation is not just confusing, but potentially frustrating. Still, with the proper approach, students can be brought to appreciate homophones, homonyms, and homographs. ... Read More »

How will innovations in the global rice sector change the world again?

50 years of IR8 | Essay contest

In November 2016, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the IR8 rice variety to Asia. Developed by an international group of scientists in the 1960s, IR8 enabled rice-growing countries across Asia to stave off a mass famine that was endangering the lives of millions of people.

The rapid uptake of this scientific innovation known as the "Miracle Rice," and its subsequent varieties, marked the first Green Revolution and proved that agricultural innovation could change the course of history. How will agricultural innovations in the global rice sector change the world again?


  1. The essay should answer the question “How will innovations in the global rice sector change the world again?” The contest revolves on the theme of IR8’s 50th anniversary, Rice that Changed the World.
  2. The essay contest is open to all, except for IRRI employees and their immediate family members.
  3. All entries must be submitted during the contest period—from 2 November to 25 November 2016—using the form below.
  4. Essays must not have been previously published anywhere else online or in print.
  5. Essays must be in an MS Word file format (.doc or .docx), with a length of 500 to 1,000 words.
  6. Essays must be written for the general public and must not be overtly technical.
  7. IRRI reserves the right to edit the essay to comply with IRRI standards and style.
  8. All submissions will be under the Creative Commons license. Submissions should have an accompanying signed note, which emphasizes that the essay is owned by the submitter and that he/she is giving IRRI permission to publish his/her essay at the IRRI website and on any other medium for the duration of the contest.
  9. All accepted entries will be featured and published at the IRRI website with the author’s byline, short profile, and photo.
  10. Announcement of winners will be on 9 December 2016.


  • 1st prize: Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
  • 2nd prize: IRRI jacket plus merchandise
  • 3rd prize: IRRI field vest plus merchandise

Criteria for judging:

  • Creativity 40%
  • Adherence to topic 25%
  • Structure 20%
  • Impact 15%

Submission for the essay writing contest now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated.

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