Tag Archives: grammar

The Grammar Factor – why learn grammar?

Why learn grammar?
When extolling the virtues of learning grammar, some people take a ‘shame’ approach.

‘If you use poor grammar,’ they say, ‘you damage your own reputation and, if you’re writing on behalf of your organisation, you damage the brand.’

And today with social media, mistakes linger even if they are quickly removed in the real world. I still recall Myer’s signage blunder in January 2013. Like many other people, I chuckled and ‘tut-tutted’. (‘Early bird get’s the right size.’)

But I also thought, ‘I’m glad I didn’t make that mistake’. I am capable of making plenty of grammatical mistakes and typos and could even miss a rogue apostrophe. Sometimes the more I look at something, the less capable I am of seeing it clearly. I am not alone in word-blindness – most of us find it hard to proofread our own writing.

So apart from shame what are the compelling reasons to learn grammar?

Read my reasons at https://onlinewritingtraining.com.au/blog.php

Improve your grammar
Test yourself with some free quizzes by the American Copy Editors’ Society at http://grammarguide.copydesk.org/quizzes

Or enrol in one of my online courses at www.onlinewritingtraining.com.au

Grammar videos
Over the summer, I learnt how to use Adobe’s Premier Pro and have uploaded eight short videos onto YouTube. Take a look at http://bit.ly/1kBhnns


  • We’re all familiar with the American past tense of ‘fit’ (‘the dress fit her like a glove’), but one reader saw the same usage with ‘pit’ in a recent Publishers Weekly:  ‘Mid-career for me in the U.S. just means silence,’ said Vann, who was pit against commercially successful books on the shortlist.
  • Errors spotted in The Sydney Morning Herald.
    • This restaurant review app hones in on… (14–15 Dec)
    • Chocolate sales are fairly weather-dependant, even at Christmas. (31 Dec)
  • A  dangling modifier from the UK Derby Telegraph: ‘Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the pub grew in popularity under Mrs Muldoon.’
  • Words on a young Chinese woman’s tee-shirt (what were they thinking of?):
    • Tow Plus
    • Toy’s Foctory

‘Shame’ is hard to resist!


Is texting killing the English language?
Texting is a sign of an evolving language, not a language in decline. It is even developing its own kind of grammar. Read more at http://ti.me/1daFiWW

How the English language is changing
This article talks about subtle changes in the language, such as the decline of ‘ought’ and ‘shall’ and the rise of the ‘get-passive’ (they got fired): http://bit.ly/1cxexJo

What changes are you noticing? Email mary@onlinewritingtraining.com.au.

Misused English terminology
If you work in the EU, you may be interested in this PDF, Misused English Words and Expressions in EU Publications by the European Court of Auditors.

How long should a sentence be?
If you’ve ever pondered how long a sentence should be, this is the article for you. The article provides guidelines on using long, short and medium-length sentences. http://bit.ly/JEEInV


Collins’ online dictionary named ‘geek’ word of the year for 2013.

Collins chose this word to celebrate that is has a more positive meaning today. It originally meant a foolish person, then morphed to mean social misfits or computer boffins. Now, thanks to technology entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, it is often used to mean ‘a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a specific subject’.


‘One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.’
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

The Grammar Factor – who and that, typos, grammar jargon

Who and that I have always thought that we should use who for people and that for things. I knew there were exceptions, such as if you were talking about a group of people. Tradespeople that don’t turn up on time are infuriating. But doing some further research, I had my golden rule busted. Apparently,Continue Reading

The Grammar Factor – prescriptive/descriptive grammar, styles, quotation marks

The writing revolution I read an interesting article last month about a school in the US that taught traditional writing skills – as a result, grades improved in all subjects. The school adopted the Hochman Program, developed by Judith Hochman. Students were taught how to turn ideas into simple sentences and how to construct complexContinue Reading


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