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How to get better at grammar? : Tips and Advice • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

How to get better at grammar?

Here's the place to share a writing or marketing tip you've used successfully and want to pass along.
Shimmitar
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Shimmitar » Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:52 pm

Funny thing actually; I've actually gotten better at grammar just by using Microsoft word's grammar checking. Though, it's not really that great a program, as it sometimes says things are wrong when their not. One thing i really had trouble with were semi colons and colons, but i'm slowly getting better at learning where to place them.

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Dreaming Imrryr
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Dreaming Imrryr » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:33 pm


jetsettingcopywriter
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby jetsettingcopywriter » Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:16 am

Read Woe is I, by Patricia O'Conner. It explainss about many of the most common grammar boo-boos and is actually fun to read.

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TwoStepCharlie
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:22 pm

Since no one else has posted this? I will do so. It's my favourite short-list of grammar mnemonics.
Link: http://orfe.princeton.edu/~rvdb/RulesForWriterers.html

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary;
it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical
words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth
earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when
its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate
quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times:
Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it
correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

And finally...
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Blow up the bridge?!

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Oldtimer
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Oldtimer » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:31 pm

LOL! First time I've seen this.
Read samples of my Martian series (by Dorothy Piper) and two romances (by Joni Havel) on Smashwords.
Hard copies of all are on Amazon.

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Crono91
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Crono91 » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:43 pm

A lot of people are suggesting to read, but my suggestion is to write. Granted, everyone has their own learning style, and you should compliment your own.

I have been writing pretty much my entire life, starting around 3rd grade. I'd always come up with crazy stories and write them down as best as I could. I didn't read much then, though.

When I started actually focusing on how I wrote was in 12th grade, when I set out to write and COMPLETE my first novel. I took it very seriously then. I researched... constantly. I learned rules. And, most importantly, I used novels as my guide toward writing. The first step for most aspirations is mimicry. I used a certain novel as a Holy Bible toward all my questions.

"When am I allowed to use em-dashes?" I'd skim through that book and see how that author did it.
"How are asides actually used?" I'd skim through that book and see how that author did it.
"In terms of sentence length, how long is too long?" I'd skim through that book and see how that author did it.

After the initial book, I kept writing. Reading novels turned into a form of enjoyment and textbook. My eyes developed in new ways. Unique uses of grammar stood out to me, and I analyzed it, vigorously. You slowly begin to move away from just studying a novel's story, to also studying their style. It's a process. It is like asking, "When did you start acting so friendly and casual with that person?" It's hard to pinpoint when. It just happened. However, if you analyze it, there were steps.

---

After you've achieved that, prepare to share your work with those better than you, as in this site. This site improved my writing in ways I didn't expect. Not so much with grammar, but with style.

Do not be afraid to challenge everyone here (respectfully, of course). Most of us want to help, and most of us want to analyze our own ways of thinking. My first post here involved PLS trying to explain how I couldn't write in Third Person the way I was writing. I adamantly believed he was wrong, because my limited knowledge saw it that way. So I kept challenging him, asking him to help explain more and prove my examples wrong. Eventually, it clicked and I understood what he was trying to say, and that opened up my perspective much more to be able to absorb people's knowledge and sift through it for what worked for me and what didn't.

After that comes the next important step: helping and editing other's work. This step also greatly improved my writing. Being able to point out where one's political views crumbles helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses in your own views. The same applies for writing. Being able to see the strengths and flaws in your cohorts works, allows you to see the same in your own. It also creates an avenue to creatively find ways to avoid/improve it.

---

After you've achieved all that, you will reach a point of mastery.

And as all true masters learn, there is no such thing as mastery. There is only improvement.

My advice, in the end, is quite simple: move forward without looking too far ahead, or too far behind. If you look too far ahead, you will become discouraged at the journey to come. If you look too far behind, you will become prideful and conceited, believing your current level of knowledge and perspective is inherently correct and better than any around you.

Such a Golden Mean is the essence of true mastery.
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

mcolbert
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby mcolbert » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:20 pm

Everyone here has posted some excellent points. If I may as well, I would also suggest incorporating technology to your learning arsenal as well. In this information age we live in, there are a whole host of apps and websites that can help you with your grammar. For me, my go-to site is Grammarly. I have been using it for the past four years, and I find it tremendously helpful with spotting many of my grammatical errors. Case in point, I used it to proofread my reply before posting it here.

Betied
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Betied » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:13 am

Reading matters, and there's no way in hell to become a good writer without reading a LOT, and for years on end, but no school worth a penny simply hands out a novel as a substitute for grammar class. No writer need be a grammar guru, but darned few successful writers, if any, learned all the necessary grammar and structure simply by reading short stories and novels.

At the very least, pick up a copy of whatever grammar book you local jr. high uses, and find some websites to to study. If your grammar is really poor, start somewhere like this: http://www.english-test.net/esl/engl...mmar-test.html

But the web is full of good grammar sites, including many that will teach and test you at every level.

Grumpy Mike
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Grumpy Mike » Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:43 pm


Good luck.

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robjvargas
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby robjvargas » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:43 am

One of the actions that I think helped me most of all to understand grammar was to learn a foreign language. For a couple of reasons.

For me, the language was Spanish. Spanish has verb forms and sentence structure that is sensitive to grammar (one simple example, the upside down punctuation on certain sentences). So I may have the same difficulties with tense and grammar that I have in English, but learning Spanish gave me some sensitivity to grammar.

Secondly, English is what I call a borrowed language. That's not literally true. But English is a language that has developed by taking words from whatever source seems to fit the moment. "Bourgeois" was taken straight from French. But it's in English dictionaries now, isn't it? "Carpe Diem" is Latin, right? But same, it's in English dictionaries. All languages do this to one extent or another. I say English is the biggest practitioner of this. And it causes all kinds of exceptions and alterations in spelling and grammar. Another language with a less borrowed etymology helps simplify a lot of that. Especially Latin, or Esperanto (which is a language designed to not have exceptions).

It's not something that "fixes" grammar problems in days or weeks, but I found learning another language to be very helpful in the long run.
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It's still under construction, but come take a look.

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