English is not my first language, and I am concerned that my statement of purpose might contain some grammatical and punctuation mistakes that neither Microsoft word nor I can see. What is the best way to overcome this problem, and to what degree does this affect the admissions committee decision putting into consideration that English isn't my first language?

P.S. I don't have any native English-speaking friends and I don't trust companies or online sites to see my statement of purpose to check its correctness.

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    professionals, by definition, will consider any material submitted to them as confidential… I think you're worrying way too much about this, as the commercial value of your document is probably close to zero – F'x Nov 18 '13 at 13:16
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    A statement of purpose has no commercial value except for someone who would be applying to the same grad school at the same time. You're not writing a research proposal. – aeismail Nov 18 '13 at 14:13
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    @aeismail and with the same background… if your statement of purpose could fit anyone, there is something wrong with it :) – F'x Nov 18 '13 at 14:35
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    No, that's a sign that your statement of purpose is improperly written. A statement of purpose should be specific to you, in that it describes your experiences and motivations, and outlines what kinds of problems you want to solve. It also talks about the department in which you want to enroll, and how your interests dovetail with their research. If, as F'x says, your document can fit anybody, then it's not a very good statement of purpose! – aeismail Nov 18 '13 at 16:44
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    If you are at a university, there might be centers on campus which specialize in such things (in case you are more willing to trust an on-campus center than a company or website). – Aru Ray Nov 18 '13 at 17:20

If the written question above is a genuine reflection of your English spelling and grammar abilities, then I strongly suggest you seek professional services to assist if you are in any way concerned about your abilities having an adverse impact on your application.

This application is clearly a very important step in determining your future, and if it is so important and you have concerns, it is not worth leaving it to chance. If you have no suitable friends, use a professional service. Plenty of other native-English speaking applicants who are competing for spaces with you will have done so.

I can't say for certain how a selection committee will factor your English as a second language. It is likely to depend on the institution and the course you are applying for.

  • can you please explain you first sentence in your answer, does my question show any English grammatical errors?! – The Hiary Nov 19 '13 at 3:53
  • Wow, native English speakers really use professional editing services? Seems like a gray area to me... – Dnuorg Spu Nov 19 '13 at 4:08
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    @TheHiary - Yes, your question contains a number of errors, albeit minor, but errors nonetheless. Some of these errors, in fact, Microsoft Word would probably pick up and offer to correct for you. Your reply above also contains errors. Please don't take it too critically, but if I'm not mistaken, you'd like your application to be as close to perfect as possible, wouldn't you. If you can't trust a professional editing service, who do this type of thing by the hundreds for a living, how will you ever trust the institutions you are applying to? – long Nov 19 '13 at 8:20
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    @DnuorgSpu - You'd better believe it! – long Nov 19 '13 at 8:21
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    @TheHiary - That you are seeking advice from the outset is a great sign of your enthusiasm and drive. I sincerely wish you the best with your applications. – long Nov 19 '13 at 8:26

English not being your first language should not be an excuse. No one is perfect and making a mistake is acceptable, surely if you're not a native speaker. But it makes you look less interested if there are a lot of mistakes in your text.

A native English speaker would be advised - since they might be able to phrase something better than someone who's just "good".

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