Essay Grading Scheme and Correction Symbols

Components of letter grades for essays and rewrites:

Content 50% Language (simple, clear, accurate) 50%

Rewrites [==> den Aufsatz revidieren]: You will rewrite your essays based on your instructor’s feedback and the correction symbols below. Your final essay grade will be calculated as follows:

First draft [=die erste Fassung] 50% Rewrite [=die Neufassung] 50%

Essay Correction Symbols

FOREST LEVEL: These are your HIGHEST PRIORITY and will significantly affect your grade on essays and tests! Write simply and clearly. Use the dictionary thoughtfully and sparingly (use the German you know!). Pay attention to case (Nominative, Accusative and Dative)

? Meaning is unclear. This often results from translating literally from English.

ID and ID* both indicate mistakes with IDioms; ID* indicates that the error is especially serious/distracting. This often results from translating an English idiom literally into German, e.g. “this evening” = “heute Abend” and not “diesen Abend“; “the first time” = “das erste Mal” and not “die erste Zeit.” The following combinations of ID + number indicate specific idiomatic mistakes to avoid:

  • ID*1: There is/are = Es gibt; There was/were = Es gab. Note: “Im Film gibt es…” vs. “Der Film gibt…“. Use “Da ist/sind” only if you’re pointing out some object(s) that is/are located “there.”
  • ID*2: Talking about fun! Unlike English: “X hat Spaß gemacht” vs. “X war Spaß“; like English: “Ich habe Spaß gehabt” (or try “Ich habe mich gut amüsiert”).
  • ID*3: Use zu Hause when someone is at home; use nach Hause when someone is headed home.
  • ID*4: All day = “den ganzen Tag” vs. “alles Tag”; all night = “die ganze Nacht” vs. “alles Nacht”; all the time = “immer” (!) vs. “alles Zeit”

W* and W both indicate an incorrect word choice; W* indicates that the mistake is especially serious. Examples are:

  • Funny mistakes, like using “Dattel” for a romantic date, or “Ventilator” for a sports fan
  • Mistakes that indicate unthinking use of a dictionary or use of an online translator, such as translations of proper names (Ludwig Dienstwagen Beethoven or Rechnung Clinton)
  • Choosing the wrong part of speech, e.g. translating the verb “to lead” by the noun “Blei,” or translating the verb in “she left” by the adverb “links.”
  • Careless use of the dictionary (e.g. just choosing the first word from a list of options)
  • **Remember to double-check the word or phrase you’ve found in context, e.g. via or usage examples on PONS.**

The following combinations of W + number indicate some common word choice mistakes to avoid:

  • W*1: sein = his or its (for masculine or neuter nouns); ihr = her or its or their (for feminine or plural nouns)
  • W*2: töten = to kill; sterben = to die
  • W*3: jemand = someone; jeder (+singular verb) OR alle (+ plural verb) = everyone; alles = everything; alle + noun = all the; alle meine = all my; “All day” = “Den ganzen Tag”; “All my money” = “Mein ganzes Geld” etc.
  • W*4: Don’t confuse einzig and nur: “mein einziges Baby” [not “mein nur Baby.”] = my only baby; “Ich habe nur ein Baby” = I only have one baby.
  • W*5: Stunde = hour; Uhr = o’clock
  • W*6: sagen = to say: “Sie sagt, sie hat keine Zeit”; reden (über) & sprechen (über) = to talk (about): “Er redet/spricht über Elvis.” “Du redest zu viel.”
SO Remember that subjects of verbs are Nominative and objects of verbs or prepositions are Accusative or Dative (for Genitive errors we’ll use GEN–see below). “Einen Ein Mann geht in eine Bar”; “Ich sehe einen ein Waschbär in meinem mein Rucksack.” And remember to use nominative after “sein“: “Ich bin einen ein Student”; “David Hasselhoff ist meinen mein Idol.” Where the reason for the error is ambiguous, we may write SO/AD, or SO/G.
GG “Grotesque” Gender mistakes e.g. using multiple genders for the same noun. Occasional noun gender errors are fine, but the essay should not indicate complete indifference to noun genders 🙂

TREE LEVEL: These are fundamental verb mistakes that will stand out to anyone walking through your forest.

ING Remember German has no -ing form: I go = I am going = Ich gehe. I went = I was going = Ich ging OR Ich bin gegangen. Wrong are e.g. “Ich bin gehen,” “Ich war gehen“.
MV Modal Verb mistakes (errors in conjugation; failing to use “modal + infinitive”; using “zu” unnecessarily [e.g. ich will zu singen])
SV Subject and Verb do not agree
TM Wrong Tense [Present/Past…] or Mood [indicative vs. subjunctive] of the verb

Verb Position:

  • VP1: In general, the verb should be in position 2.
  • VP2: Und, aber, oder, denn & sondern occupy position 0 ==> you want e.g. “und”; then something in position one; then the verb.
    • VP2a: Note that, especially after “und” and “oder,” the “thing” in position 1 is often “understood,” i.e. “occupies” position 1 without being stated.
  • VP3: If the verb is in two parts, the conjugated part goes in position two, and the “generic part” (infinitive or past participle) goes at the end of the clause.
  • VP4: After a subordinating conjunction (dass, weil, wenn, als, ob…) and in a relative clause, the verb comes at the end. If the verb is in two parts, the conjugated part comes at the end, and the “generic part” (infinitive, past participle, or separable prefix) comes right before it.
  • VP5: After a subordinate clause, the subsequent main clause begins with the verb.
  • VP6: Infinitives with or without “zu” always come at the end of the clause. If the verb is separable or in two parts, make a “zu-sandwich“: mitzukommen, Tennis zu spielen.

WEED LEVEL: We don’t want to see too many weeds in your garden BUT any interesting garden will have a few. Don’t feel badsmiley

A Adjective ending
AD You’ve confused Accusative and Dative. Where the reason for the error is ambiguous, we may write SO/AD.
DN Nouns add an “-n” in the dative plural. DN indicates that you’ve either forgotten this extra –n we add to the regular plural form in the Dative, or added one where it’s not needed.
EA Don’t confuse Einword endings and Adjective endings!
G Gender

GENitive mistakes:

  • This asks you to use the (correct form of the) Genitive. Remember:
  • Word order with the Genitive is reversed compared to English: The man’s cat = Die Katze des Mannes, not (except in poetry) “des Mannes Katze.”
  • Add a Genitive -(e)s to masculine and neuter singular nouns only
  • For proper names, add an “-s” without an apostrophe: Annas Katze, Schrödingers Katze; if the name ends in an -s sound, add an apostrophe: Gauss’ Katze, Lorenz’ Katze
GR Capitalization [=GRoß- und Kleinschreibung]
I Punctuation [=Interpunktion]. Usually means you need to insert or delete a comma.
ID IDiomatic expression. See ID* under “Forest Level” for more information!
NN Wrong form of an NNoun. N-Nouns (weak nouns) are masculine nouns that add an -en or -n ending whenever they are not in the Nominative singular. E.g. der Student ==> den/dem/des Studenten; der Herr ==> den/dem/des Herrn. They include the male forms of some occupations (Student, Professor, Biologe, Astronaut, Philosoph, Kollege…), some male animals (Elefant, Affe, Drache), and some other nouns (Junge, Herr, Kunde, Planet…)
P Wrong OR missing Preposition
PA This note means you need to use the PAssive, i.e. the appropriate form of “werden” + a past participle.
PL Wrong PLural form (for nouns)
  • Written next to a pronoun: Wrong PRoNoun (e.g. “unser” instead of “euer,” “uns” instead of “ihr,” but not case mistakes like “ihm” instead of “ihn”)
  • Written next to a noun: Use a PRoNoun to replace this noun
R Spelling [=Rechtschreibung].
RP Wrong/missing Relative Pronoun
RV Wrong/missing reflexive pronoun (RV: Reflexive Verb)

A German sentence should only have one main verb per clause. This note indicates that you have two main verbs in the same clause, and need to find a way to separate the clause into two clauses separated by a comma, typically a main clause and a Subordinate Clause, with one of the verbs in each.

  • SC1: Use a relative clause, e.g.: INSTEAD OF:Kennst du meine Freundin ich immer spreche mit über alles” SAY: “Kennst du meine Freundin, mit der ich immer über alles spreche
  • SC2: Use an infinitive clause, e.g.: INSTEAD OF: “Ich fühle wie eine Elvis-Platte hören,” SAY: “Ich habe Lust, eine Elvis-Platte zu hören.”
  • SC3: Use a conjunction, e.g. dass or weil.
  • SC4: Replace the English verb-verb combination with a verb-adverb combination in German: “Why do you keep insulting me?” is “Warum beleidigst du mich dauernd [or immer]?” “I enjoy swimming in the ocean” is “Ich schwimme gern im Ozean.”
  • SC5: You generally cannot put two conjunctions in a row: “Er sagt, dass weil er müde ist er schlafen will” should be “Er sagt, dass er schlafen will, weil er müde ist.” The main exceptions involve denn, because this automatically keeps the verbs in separate clauses, e.g.: “Ich bin müde, denn als ich ins Bett gegangen bin, ist es explodiert.”
SIM The word you need is SIMilar to the word you have used. We’ll use this if you’ve confused similar words like “dass” and “das,” “antworten” and “beantworten,” “Strahlen” [=rays] and “Strahlung” [=radiation].
V Other Verb problems not included in the above categories (ING, MV, SV, TM, VP). These include errors in conjugating the verb [e.g. er/sie/es gebt instead of er/sie/es gibt], using the wrong form of the participle [e.g. gemachen instead of gemacht], or using the wrong auxiliary verb [haben vs. sein]. [Do not confuse V and W: V ==> change verb form or change the auxiliary verb, but keep using this verb; W ==> use a different word]
W Wrong Word [Do not confuse V and W: V ==> change verb form, but keep using this verb; W ==> use a different word]. See W* under “Forest Level” for more information!
Wst Word order [=Wortstellung] [for word order mistakes other than verb position (VP)]
> Word missing [often an article (der/das/die, ein, eine…)]