Funny Girl's Guide to Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary

Prepositions!

Conjunction Video

The Light Side of a Boring Topic

Grammar is boring! Who really enjoyed sitting in class learning all the different grammar parts and deconstructing sentences? No one! Ergo, we are a nation of people who by and large hate grammar. For the longest time, I thought I hated grammar. To be quite blunt, grammar still feels like the most boring aspect of writing. But as anyone knows, when you become a master at any skill, that skill becomes much more enjoyable. In college, I had to sit through a few rather intensive grammar courses.

Taking journalism classes and then working as a copy editor for my college newspaper, I began to realize that I still don’t know as much grammar as I should. But the experience provided a few practices I needed to become better at grammar while gaining a few extra tools to become better. Although I still wouldn’t say I’m an expert at all matters grammar, I have found these tools and practices helpful in improving my understanding about grammar in a manner that is more fun and conducive to learning.

Phase One: Changing Attitude Toward Grammar and Vocabulary!

Funny Videos and Comics About Grammar

I’ve never been the kind of person to grow up watching schoolhouse rock. But I still remember the joy of singing the preposition song. Watching funny videos about grammar might not make you the best grammarian right off the bat, but it will change your attitude about grammar. And who doesn’t want to sing a song about some grammatical aspect?

Vocabulary Time

Text Twist

Games usually allow people to have more fun with the kind of words that they use. This game was a game I found in a journalism class. Our journalism professor recommended it to us and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. In this game, you are given a bunch of letters and a time limit. To the side, you’ll find a bunch of tile spaces that you fill by creating as many words as you can from the letters you are given. To advance to the next round, you must use up all the letters. Otherwise, you can’t advance to the next round. The game will keep going until you fail to use up all the letters. It’s a fun game and will keep your mind sharp.

Free Rice

This has to be the best game if you are an introvert who still wants to help others out and can’t be a part of a volunteer organization. Why? It can be practiced from the safety of a personal computer. This game focuses primarily on vocabulary building. Beginning with an easy word, you are asked to pick from a list of words to find the right synonym. For each word you get right, wefeedback donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. With sixty levels, the game will improve your vocabulary and mental acumen while helping to feed people who are facing hunger every day.

Phase Two: Getting the Nitty Gritty of Grammar and Punctuation Through Books

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss

The runaway best seller is the most hysterical book you’ll ever encounter about grammar. Even if you think you hate grammar, Truss provides an ample array of humorous anecdotes to demonstrate why grammar matters and how punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. Unlike a traditional grammar book that can be more than a little tedious to read, Truss fine tunes the language of appreciation for the punctuation mark. The downside to her book is the overweening paranoia that you’ll face should you make any grammar mistake again. Ever.

When Words Collide: A Media Writer’s Guide to Grammar and Style

This book provides the nitty gritty details to grammar, understanding the different kinds of sentence constructions (simple, compound, compound-complex, complex) as well as the different meanings of words. Besides covering grammar, the book covers some of the trickier aspects of writing such as how race and sexism are handled in language. Along with providing the trademark secrets of how to be a better writer, the book will also look at the way words are commonly misused. This section is the kind of section that could be looked at again as language changes. As a half-grammatical stickler, I’m still uncertain how much these points will hold as people continue to change and manipulate language to suit their own purposes. But that’s society’s call, not mine.

The Associated Press Style Book

Not just the book for journalists, this is also the kind of book that will fine tune your understanding of the meaning of words as well as making you more aware of some word redundancies. For instance, did you know that in news media, the word "tomorrow" is never used except in direct quotes? This is because journalists are never certain that "tomorrow" actually exists. The word is too uncertain of an entity. You will also feel aghast upon recognizing that "ABM missile" would be a redundant expression as you would then be saying "Anti-ballistic missile missile." But these are just a few of the treasures that await you in the AP Stylebook. To be quite honest, I prefer not knowing all of it as it's easy to second-guess yourself.

Simplifying Knowledge: Consolidating Grammar Knowledge

Grammar books can be a bit intimidating. With so much information to retain, it can be easy to not want to pick up a grammar book. But if that is the case, you might try looking up and putting down all the rules that you still struggle with on one page. I fear I might go to the grave still struggling with the dastardly lay/lie verbs. If you suffer from the "I feel overwhelmed" status, then you might want to try breaking it down. I'm fortunate to have found another website that sends daily grammar and writing skills so that my knowledge remains fresh. Having read many grammar books and still feeling appalled at all I've forgotten, I find this site very helpful in keeping me aware of good and bad writing practices.

Phase Three: Becoming a Grammar Master

Putting Lessons Gained Into Practice: How Many Mistakes Can You Find?

One of the assignments that I thankfully did not have to do was to find 50 grammar or punctuation errors in publication magazines. Although my grammar class did not have to do this assignment, the assignment made me hone my attention to looking for other places with grammar errors. Finding errors in professional publications proffers the most fun entertainment because if the “professionals” aren’t always able to get it right all the time, then maybe the grammar gods aren’t ever going to be completely appeased with our attempts to get grammar right. I’ve provided some of the funniest places that grammar errors have occurred.

So You Think You’re A Grammar God?

Being taught by a really good professor who knew her grammatical skills like the back of her hand, I find myself still wincing about the vast reams of grammar that I don’t know. Really, I should know better but I’m still learning. However, my professor once said that the editing process is not about striving for perfection, but excellence. She also said that media writers and copy-editors are allowed a mere three exclamation points in their lives. Perhaps this was the main reason that I’m rather reluctant to take on editing? Nah. Either way, even if you think you know your grammar skills, you would benefit highly from taking this editing test from a true grammar god. You might find yourself dismayed and humiliated by the results. But even the professionals seem to have gotten it wrong as well.

Still Think You're the Brad Pitt of Grammar?

After the test, you can head over to editteach.org, which has plenty of word games that can further improve your skills. With a hodge podge of grammar games, you can greatly improve your skills as an editor and writer. Along with a bunch of other games and ways to test your knowledge, you'll find a video of the person who wrote the grammar test. I would highly recommend watching the video as it provides an amusing look at grammar mistakes in the news media.

In conclusion, you are being issued the challenge to see what grammar mistakes you can find in this article. How many are there? First person to respond gets a gold sticker. Well, maybe just a smiley face will do. Before I part, I will add that learning a heavy amount of grammar can kill the desire to write (as I've seen through reading research articles). Many of the people who entered into the journalism school I went to came out thoroughly burned out on wanting to write. Maybe they didn't like the "just three exclamation points" rule any more than I did. But either way, I'm still learning to accept the naughty, grammatically incorrect side of me. It is to be hoped that as i writer, you will find the same acceptance for yourself.

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Comments 13 comments

Rusty C. Adore profile image

Rusty C. Adore 5 years ago from Michigan

Love this! I recently realized that I don't know as much about grammar as I thought I did and that made me embarrassed. How could I possibly hope to find a job as a proofreader or editor when my grammar isn't the best it can be? I can't. Your hub helps me with that! I get to practice and get better. I am really excited to try those games you suggested! The books sound really interesting, too! Great hub!


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

I feel ya on that one! I've read so many grammar books and it still doesn't all stick with me. I think even the professionals feel the same way. Just keep sticking with it if that's what you want to do and time yourself even. You have to be fast. Also, Orson Scott Card has this amazing response about grammar. I read it a few dozen times and still feel a little confused. Oh, and daily writing tips is an online site that will send you e-mails every day with new writing advice. That really helps also. Good luck!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Every time I read something that I'd just wrote. . . . YUCK! What could have I possibly have been thinking???

I nearly sliced a finger to the bone sharpening a fillet knife recently. . . . so now my troubles have increased as I learn to type with a hand and a half. . . .

All I know is that at one point in time I aced all aspects of writing without any effort, and now I can hardly spell anymore. At least nowadays I'm "on the hunt" for writing, surely this is a good sign?


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

Oh no! I'm so sorry about your finger! That sounds horrible. You do sound like the person that would keep going about something like writing even if you didn't feel like it. As for me, I've just been going through my own mental breakdown and am now on medicine just to help me sleep and not have "racing thoughts" or anything like insanity. BUT if it makes you feel better, I had this nightmare that everyone (including you) had turned into zombies and that the prisons became bursting out at the seams. Well, coming back from that nightmare, I hope I can convey to you my sense of relief that you only sliced your finger. As much as it sucks, I'm quite happy that you are ALIVE and still striving in your writing WHICH continues to improve and (however much a pain) will only keep getting better the more it is practiced.

I think being on the hunt for writing is a good sign. Have you tried listening to Writing Excuses? You might really enjoy that. It's a podcast. Very encouraging and helpful.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Thank You!!!!

My writer's excuse is "ain't got no beer or ciggy's."

Yeah, still can't use the finger, and a large water moccasin (venomous, and aggressive water snake) slithered tween me feetz the same day. I'f I'd cut the eff' out of myself, and been snake bitten on the same day. . . I'd decide that it was MUCH safer here in front of the monitor, than out in the repertoire of North East Texas' natural world. . . . .

Your dream was bot a nightmare, it was an epiphany, a realization of the world around you. I'm Conspiracy Zombie, Redneck Zombie, and "eff" that!". . . . not pc zombie

I made my first Google Adsense check! That's an encouraging thing for the writing. Thing is, I don't find many people that I can have good conversations with in the face to face world. I make kindred spirit brothers and sisters more readily on the internet. I guess the fact that I don't socialize much at all in the face to face world plays into it too though. I'm the guy with the dragon Silhouette behind the semi transparent divider. . . .


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

Have you ever tried the fake pack of cigs? Some friends of mine who were trying to quit relied on those for help.

I think I'm starting to become an exercise junkie or just a junkie for natural highs. Of course, lately I've been eating so many healthy fajitas that I feel like when my eyes decide to be teary for no reason, then salt comes pouring out instead of water. Why do i feel like I'm being "punished" because I've developed a deep need to have fajitas with peppers and guacamole and salsa or hot sauce enter my system every single day? Seriously, I'm attached to hot sauce.

I hear ya about being anti-social! I still feel like I do better online, but I'm starting to open up and meet people I consider friends. And I think you're right. My nightmare might just have been an "epiphany." But what I want to know now is this: should I be afraid of being crushed by pillows? Hee hee.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

add me to the list of people who thought they knew more about grammar than the actually do. I find myself rushing to complete written projects just to get them done(being a mom and all) and skipping over the grammar aspects.

I've always been a natural at spelling, but even the word check on the computer has made me lazier regarding that. What's a girl to do? Well, read this hub. It's great. I'm bookmarking it and loved the games you suggested. I enjoyed all my English classes even the grammar ones- guess I was nerdy that way.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

I hear ya! I get so embarrassed when I talk about grammar, but when I was in Journalism school, they did all these fun activities with grammar -- while making us read a few grammar books. Even the profs were nervous about talking about grammar -- and they were journalists! But the games are a lot of fun. That being said, I have a tiny little grammar book I might start carrying around again. I always feel the need for a good grammar brush up again...

Anyway, it's good to hear from other nerdy people. Glad you could stop by!


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

I think I wanted to learn grammar because everyone hated it (that was the rebellious side of me-lol). I wish I had felt that way about Algebra- yuck.

Sounds like you had some good profs and lucky! I remember hating one English topic- Shakespeare, but I had one prof and she was so great, made it so fun and I ended up liking Shakespeare. The fun thing is, he made up his own grammar and even his own language. I find people like Stephen King and other authors making grammatical errors yet it is part of their writing style.

I haven't looked this up, but tell me- is it correct to start a sentence with "And"? I never thought it was, but I've been seeing it a lot lately.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

Hee hee. Sounds like you could relate to my little instances of rebellion. I once read the book of Leviticus because everyone said it was so dry. Actually, I'm still quite fascinated by it. The laws and dietary stuff were kind of interesting.

Yeah, I had a really good Shakespeare prof too. He made us question everything. He was so good that there was even a facebook group dedicated to him. Grammar is such a tricky thing and some of the "rules" we have are actually based on the idea that "English" should model Latin. From that idea, we get rules like "don't split infinities" and "don't end sentences with prepositions." Actually, a lot of the good writers like Shakespeare and Milton made up their own words and had their own system. But because people wanted more stability in their language, they adopted some grammar books with really strange rules.

I took a class on "the history of the English Language" and the prof was amazing. Needless to say, the history behind language is fascinating. As for starting sentences with "and," you're not supposed to, but that's one rule I've avoided. Maybe I'm more a linguist than a grammarian...


Bryan Styble 4 years ago

Uh, you asked, so here goes: It's Schoolhouse Rock, not uncapitalized, inasmuch as it's a title. (And yes, "inasmuch" is correct, not "in as much".) And it's "The Preposition Song", in quotes because it's a song title and, of course, capitalized. It's not best seller, but rather bestseller, as it is a compound word (or, in the ever-imprecise language of the Internet generation, "written as one word"). And hodgepodge is, again, a compound word. (And yes, it is quite grammatically correct to begin SOME sentences with "And", but never, obviously, "and", inasmuch as any sentence's initial word must be capitalized, no matter how much all the under-30s apparently disdain capitalization.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 4 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

THANK YOU!

I am leaving the errors, though I couldn't find the beginning of the sentence with the and that isn't capitalized. I do appreciate capitalization. On the others, I humbly stand corrected. Thanks again for stopping by!


Ausseye 3 years ago

Hi ElfFanza:

Whoo you’ve made GAMA another phase of light, seeping into the soul of the universe. Gama has a light sense of itself and few schools encourage it, in fact if you pass gamma you are travelling at speeds greater than light but alas pronouncing such a feat ( feet) is a t the bottom of the body of winners. Love the hub and its correct grammar because it shows we monkeys can achieve at universal tasks. It was a pleasure exposed to grammar after all these years, my primary school teacher said I would never master it so I went for gamma which was a lot faster for a racy teacher. May gamma win in grammar, the school of choice.

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