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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Common Grammatical Mishaps

Courtesy of lusi

For me, grammar has always been more of an instinctive thing, and it wasn't something I was even aware of until I started studying French in middle school. Up until that point, my concrete knowledge of grammar consisted of knowing what nouns and verbs were.

Then I started writing seriously. And that was when I got my first inkling of how little I knew.

Fortunately, grammatical know-how is something that can only improve and deepen with time and study.

I've complied a list of handy online resources that detail and explain common grammatical mistakes and questions:

From Easy Writer: a list (and examples) of 20 of the most common error patterns among US college students. The site also has a section detailing different styles of documenting your sources.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (or OWL) is another excellent resource. It has a list of exercises that include grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure among others. They also come with a handy answer key. OWL also offers an APA and MLA formatting guide.

Another awesome resource is Grammar Girl. She offers a wide range of grammar tips with easy to read (I have a short attention span when it comes to reading technical stuff) explanations. For example, the difference between affect and effect.

Despite taking advanced and honors language classes, I escaped the joys of learning how to properly diagram a sentence in school. A joy that I'm working on learning how to do now. Here's a great site that explains how to diagram a sentence.

What's the point in learning how to diagram sentences? Is it necessary?

Probably not, but the point of grammar is to provide a framework that allows us to clearly explain our thoughts. My reasoning is that the more I understand how this works, the better I'll be able to convey my meaning.

My last fail-safe is my good friend Google. When I have a question--lie or lay? To hyphen or not--I type it in the search engine. If I'm trying to figure out whether or not to hyphenate a word (for some reason, I can't keep the hyphenation rules in my head), I type the words into the search engine and see what it brings up. Through this, I've discovered that some words are hyphenated if they come before the noun, but not hyphenated if they come after. Who knew? (Not me. :p) This also works great for words I'm misspelling, so I can't find them in my laptop's dictionary. O:)

What about you? Do you have any good grammar resources?

 Danyelle Leafty (@danyelleleafty) writes MG and YA fantasy. In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She can be found discussing the art of turning one's characters into various animals, painting with words, and the best ways to avoid getting eaten by dragons on her blog.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Did you know only American's learned to diagram sentences? No one else has heard of the term. It almost killed me when I moved to the US from England. :D

Yvonne Osborne said...

My old standby GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT, by Anne Stilman.

But I still have trouble with lay and lie. Which and that is another as well as who and whom.

But to diagram a sentences? Ohhhh, I don't want to do that again.

docstar said...

Grammatical techno-speak is anathema to me. Ask me to define "preposition" or "past participle" and my eyes will glaze over. But I apparently know how to use them, as my betas rarely have to question my grammar.

Juturna F. said...

Mostly, I use the Purdue OWL, but I also visit Grammar Girl and other websites (yes, even the OatMeal!)

Since I work editorial, my friends often ask me grammar questions. I began looking up the answers to ones I didn't know or got fairly often, and thus began...

The Grammar Brigade!

So far, I've covered:

which vs. that
passive voice and when to use it
verb tenses (perfects, progressives, etc)
common homonyms
using commas to address people

If you want to take a look, the Grammar Brigade posts can be found at:

Marcia said...

Oooh, another GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT lover!

Thanks for these resources, Danyelle. I love to have online places to refer students to.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

It's one thing to know the rules, another thing to apply them to your own writing. When I conquer that I'll feel I can do anything. Thanks for the tips and links. Great post.

Danyelle L. said...

I didn't know that, Stina. To be honest, I'm kind of glad I didn't encounter diagraming in school. O:)

Great resource, Yvonne! :) I'm with you on lie and lay. Makes my head hurt. I usually solve who and whom by:
if you can replace with he or she=who; him or her=whom.

I'm with you, docstar. I can do it on intuition, but can't keep the actual terms in my head very well. >.<

Thanks, Juturna! The more resources the better. :D

Any time, Marcia. Grammar is kind of fascinating. :)

Yup, there's definitely got to be a bridge there, Kathi. It's something I'm still working on in my own writing. May we both reach the summit. :D