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In 1988, an American minister, author and part-time Utah resident name Robert Fulghum wrote a book called "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten." In the book, Fulghum argues that the world would be a better place if everyone simply adhered to the same basic rules most people learn as children.

The problem with Fulghum's idea, of course, is that not every child learns the same rules - and our experiences, good and bad, all-to-often trump whatever simplistic rules we might once have learned.

As it turns out, that's a problem with collegiate student writing as well. Not everyone learned to write in the same way. Not everyone was taught the same rules. And even when the rules are taught, they're not often evenly enforced throughout a student's K-12 education.

But here’s the thing: To study in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Utah State University, students do need to know the rules — and not just the ones they were supposed to learn in kindergarten.

Some students are understandably concerned that their level of grammatical literacy might be a bit shy of what it should be as a college writer. That’s OK. Because while the department’s faculty does expect incoming students to have mastery of the English language above the level of a kindergartener, all incoming JCOM students really need to know they (should have) learned in the fifth grade.

That’s right. The fifth grade.   

Below is a list of Common Core language arts standards for punctuation and grammar taught between kindergarten and the fifth grade, along with online tutorials from dozens of schools, programs and individuals. These tutorials can help ensure incoming JCOM students have a very basic knowledge of punctuation and grammar. Students who don’t have complete mastery over these elementary literacy skills should not enroll in any JCOM class until they have successfully remediated their difficulties.


Recognize punctuation.

Use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series.



Use commas for greetings and closings of letters.


Use apostrophes to form contractions and possessives.


Use commas in addresses.


Use commas in dialogue.



Use commas before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence


Use punctuation to separate items in a series.


Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence.







Capitalize proper adjectives.




Form regular plural nouns by adding /s/ or /es/


Use common, proper, and possessive nouns.



Use singular and plural nouns.


Use collective nouns.


Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns.


Explain the function of nouns and their function in particular sentences.


Form and use regular and irregular plural nouns.


Use abstract nouns.


Form singular and plural possessive nouns.


Use and identify nouns of direct address.


Recognize and identify nouns used as predicate nominatives


Identify and use nouns as direct objects, indirect objects and objects of a preposition.



Use personal, possessive, indefinite, reflexive and relative pronouns. Explain the function of pronouns in general and in particular sentences.



Explain function of verbs in general and their function in particular sentences. Use verbs to convey a sense of past, present and future. Use verb tense to convey various times, sequences, states and conditions. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tenses.   


Form and use the past tense of frequently occurring irregular verbs. Form and use regular and irregular verbs. Form and use the progressive verb tenses.  


Form and use the simple verb tenses.


Ensure subject-verb agreement.


Form and use the perfect and progressive verb tenses.


Use modal auxiliaries.



Explain the function of prepositions in general and their function in particular sentences


Use frequently occurring prepositions.


Form and use prepositional phrases.




Explain function of adjectives and adverbs in general and their function in complete sentences.


Form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs and choose between them depending on what is being modified.


Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns.




Use coordinating, subordinating and correlative conjunctions. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.


Recognize and use interjections.




Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory sentences. Produce, expand and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences.



Recognize and correct inappropriate fragments and run-ons.