Free Help With Grammar and Writing
Get The Help You Need
You're writing a paper for a class, but the anxiety keeps you from even starting. A job awaits, but that cover letter is a task that you dread. As a manager, it is time to write that very important memo or talk for all of your staff, but you fear that your poor writing skills might make you and the company look bad.
As a long-time instructor of basic writing and speaking (See: My experiences with writing and what I can do for you), I have heard the above scenarios numerous times over the years. Fear of grammar is a barrier to success.
This article offers solutions.
What Is Grammar?
Grammar is the system of a language, sometimes described as its "rules." In his book Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, Jeremy Butterfield said "Grammar is often a generic way of referring to any aspect of English that people object to." Thus, it is safe to say that language actually has no rules. Since rules would have to come from some place, did a group of scholars create the rules before people started speaking the language?
That is not possible. In her book, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, Christine Kenneally explains why:
For all its power to wound and seduce, speech is our most ephemeral creation; it is little more than air. It exits the body as a series of puffs and dissipates quickly into the atmosphere. . . . There are no verbs preserved in amber, no ossified nouns, and no prehistorical shrieks forever spread-eagled in the lava that took them by surprise.
Language develops. It is acquired slowly and adapts to changes in a variety of ways throughout time. Grammar is simply a reflection of a language to a group of people, at a particular time, and in a specific context..
FREE Online Resources For Improving Your Grammar
Here are some of my favorite sites on the net that offer help, instruction and practice at no cost.
The Capital Community College Guide to Grammar and Writing is a great website that offers essays, quizzes, peripherals, and slide shows. These are delivered at the word and sentence level; paragraph level, essay and research paper level. The site offers answers to your specific questions. There are also polls, search devices, a guest book, and awards.
PaperRater.com does a free grammar and spelling check, online proofreading.
Did you source all of your quotes correctly? Are you worried that your paper may be accused of impropriety? They also offer free plagiarism detection that utilizes the massive indexes of the major search engines Yahoo! Google, and Bing.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation provides an on-line resource for grammar and punctuation usage with lessons, quizzes, and an optional test to evaluate your understanding of the material.
EdX offers a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in English grammar and Style. The course description says that you can learn how to use a knowledge of how words work to write in the style that readers value and that the university and the professions require.
"EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities, colleges and organizations, their official website says. "Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT."
More of My Favorite Sites
Check out these gems:
Have you ever wanted to study and learn at Harvard? Their writing center offers these Tips on Grammar, Punctuation and Style.
"Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language" is Grammar Girl.
Your Dictionary has a great collection of Grammar Rules and Grammar Tips.
Why Does Grammar Matter?
A position statement on the teaching of grammar in American schools. Published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), says:
Grammar is important because it is the language that makes it possible for us to talk about language. Grammar names the types of words and word groups that make up sentences not only in English but in any language. As human beings, we can put sentences together even as children--we can all do grammar. But to be able to talk about how sentences are built, about the types of words and word groups that make up sentences--that is knowing about grammar. And knowing about grammar offers a window into the human mind and into our amazingly complex mental capacity.
People associate grammar with errors and correctness. But knowing about grammar also helps us understand what makes sentences and paragraphs clear and interesting and precise.
While we do not need to study grammar to learn a language, speaking and writing effectively can help you in every area of life. When you understand the grammar (or system) of a language, you deepen your abilities for comprehension, critical analysis and communication.