APA Is Not Grammar

…and grammar is not APA…

Both APA and grammar influence how we read a paper, and they can both be factors when grading. However, it can really help students if they understand the difference.  APA is a citation style.  It is the way we give credit to the words and ideas in a paper or project that are not our own.  APA is important.

Grammar is the way we group our words together in the paper to form clear sentences and ideas.  Grammar at Kaplan is based on the idea of Standard American English.   Confused grammar leads to difficulty in getting our ideas across to our readers.

In research writing, it can seem as though these two things start to meld together because both can be a factor in the readability of a paper. One convention of research writing that effects how we read a paper is the construction of an introduction to a quotation. Students often leave off these introductions or write them in a nonstandard way thus rendering understanding difficult. “Students often want to insert quotes in the middle of a paragraph.”  Learning to write in a research style requires that they learn how to introduce quotes as well as how to cite those quotations correctly.  So, even though introducing quotes and citation style can interfere with how we read a paper, these things are still APA or research style conventions, not grammar.

I am not minimizing APA.  We emphasize the importance of learning APA so students can properly enter into the academic research conversation and avoid plagiarism charges.

While we grade and comment on both APA and Grammar (and punctuation) issues, distinguishing the difference for students can help them gain confidence in their writing.  It can also help students know what kind of help to ask for help when they visit the KUWC.

Common Citation Guidelines

Basic Citation Guidelines

Punctuation and Grammar


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