How to Use Good Grammar to Create Essays That Flow

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5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application Essays: Get your free copy!

Caution: Don't bury your qualifications under prepositions!

 

From my base in the Middle East, I work with many applicants throughout Asia who have excellent English but use a few phrases in ways that depart from the strictly correct. Here are some tips to help applicants improve their use of two words that are commonly misused.

1. Leverage 

Rule: Do not use a preposition with the word "leverage."

"Leverage" is most often used to indicate that you made use of one thing to obtain another. Most applicants understand what leverage is; the mistake only comes in how they phrase it. The correct way is without a preposition.

Correct usage: I leveraged my knowledge of marketing to champion my idea throughout the department.

Incorrect usage: My leverage on brand loyalty made me eager to pursue a job at Nike.

Remember, you can leverage credibility, loyalty, knowledge, and even debt, but the key is to do it alone, don’t use a preposition (like the frequent error "leverage on").

2. Comprise

Everyone knows this word, but for many people for whom English is a second language – even those who spent their entire lives studying in English in school – this term comes with another prepositional complication.

"Comprised" can be used in two ways:

1.  A team can be "comprised of" certain members.

OR

2.  Certain members can "comprise" the team.

Every year many of my applicants mistakenly use the preposition "of" when it isn’t needed and drop it when it is necessary. So remember, when team members comprise a team, they do it alone – without a preposition.

If you keep getting confused, maybe write those two sample sentences out on a sticky note to put on your computer screen.

These words come up all the time, especially in leadership and teamwork MBA admission essays.

Contact an Accepted consultant to guide you through these and other subtle English issues and make sure that your qualifications are not buried under prepositions!

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Related Resources:

• From Example to Exemplary [Free guide]
The 4 Must-Haves Of A Grad School Application [Podcast episode]
• The Biggest Application Essay Mistake [Short video]

This article originally appeared on blog.accepted.com.

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