Essay Grading Scheme and Correction Symbols

(For 200- and 300-Level Courses)

Essay Grading Scheme

Essays will be given letter grades as follows:
Content 50%
Linguistic complexity and accuracy 50%

Rewrites [=die Neufassung (von meinem Aufsatz); Verb: Ich muss meinen Aufsatz revidieren]

You will be given the opportunity to rewrite your essays within a week of getting them back (or within two class days of getting them back in the Spring and Summer). If you choose to do so, your final grade will be weighted as follows:
First draft [=die erste Fassung] 1/3
Rewrite [=die Neufassung] 2/3

This is our way of saying that it is a really, really good idea to rewrite your essays for two reasons:

Essay Correction Symbols

We have divided these into two categories: "tow-away mistakes," which are serious and should never happen, and "parking tickets," which are for most people an unavoidable fact of life, but of which one doesn't want to get too many.

Please familiarize yourself with these symbols as soon as you can: it will save you a lot of time and effort, and serve as a useful reminder of errors to avoid! We have chosen them to be as self-explanatory as possible.


TOW-AWAY MISTAKES: These are the mistakes you should never make!

? Meaning is unclear. This is usually the result of trying to translate an idea literally from English. The solution: try to build up your sentences from the German you know. For advice on how to do this, please refer to the "Essay Writing Strategies" in your coursepack or online!

ID and ID* both mean that you have made a mistake with an IDiomatic expression. This usually means you've tried to translate an English idiom literally into German when that can't be done, e.g. "It was fun" = "Es hat Spaß gemacht" and not "Es war Spaß";"the first time" = "das erste Mal" and not "die erste Zeit." ID* indicates that the error is especially serious or distracting.

The following combinations of ID + number indicate some common idiomatic mistakes to avoid:

  • ID1: There is/are = Es gibt; There was/were = Es gab. Always wrong is "Es geben". Use "Da ist/sind" only if you're pointing out some object(s) that is/are located "there."
  • ID2: When saying how you're doing, remember to use "Es geht mir gut/schlecht/fantastisch/prima/OK" for anything on the good/bad continuum, but "Ich bin müde/alt/krank/gesund/fit" for other states.
  • ID3: Use zu Hause when someone is at home; use nach Hause when someone is headed home.
  • ID4: Note how one states the year when something occurred: Mozart wurde 1756 geboren/Mozart wurde im Jahre 1756 geboren/Mozart wurde in 1756 geboren
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")
NOM Remember to use nominative for the subject of the verb (i.e. the (pro)noun the verb agrees with): Einen Ein Mann geht in eine Bar.... And remember to use nominative after "sein" and "werden": Ich bin einen ein Student. David Hasselhoff ist meinen mein Idol.
  • Written next to a pronoun: Wrong PRoNoun (e.g. "sein" instead of "ihr," "uns" instead of "ihr," but not for e.g. "ihm" instead of "ihn")
  • Written next to a noun: Use a PRoNoun to replace this noun
SV Subject and Verb do not agree
VP Verb Position

W* and W both indicate that you've chosen the wrong word, but 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 improbable literal translations
  • 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."

Most such errors can be avoided by

  • browsing the dictionary entries carefully, as opposed to just picking one of the suggested words at random
  • checking the word you've found in the "other half" of the dictionary to see if it generally seems to mean what you think it means
  • typing the word or phrase you've found into Google using quotation marks to see if it is really used in the way you plan to use it

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

  • W1: Stunde = hour; Uhr = o'clock
  • W2: 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."
  • W3: jemand = someone; jeder = everyone
  • W4: töten = to kill; sterben = to die




PARKING TICKETS: These things happen, but they shouldn't happen too often

A Adjective ending
EA Don't confuse Ein-word endings and Adjective endings!
F Case [=Fall]: Used for the wrong cases of der- and ein-words, and also for missing dative plural -n or genitive -(e)s
G Gender
GEN GENitive mistakes:
  • 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 (no apostrophe!) 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. This usually means you've tried to translate an English idiom literally into German when that can't be done, e.g. "It was fun" = "Es hat Spaß gemacht" and not "Es war Spaß";"the first time" = "das erste Mal" and not "die erste Zeit."
NN Wrong form of an N-Noun. N-Nouns, also known as weak nouns, are a special class of masculine nouns that add an -en or -n ending whenever they are not in the Nominative singluar. 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
PL Wrong PLural form (for nouns)
R Spelling [=Rechtschreibung].
RP Wrong/missing Relative Pronoun

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].

TM Wrong Tense [Present/Past…] or Mood [indicative vs. subjunctive] of the verb
V Other Verb problems not included in the above categories (MV, SV, VP & TM). 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 "Tow-Away Mistakes" for more information!
Wst Word order [=Wortstellung] [for word order mistakes other than verb position (VP)]
> Word missing [usually (but not always) an article or reflexive pronoun]
# Other mistakes