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Learning Grammar through Reading: What Harry Potter Can Teach Us about English Grammar Rules (Week 2)

Learning Grammar through Reading: Harry Potter Week 2

Commas and the Chamber of Secrets

Tom Riddle Last week in our “Learning Grammar through Reading” series, we covered the first Harry Potter book with our discussion of common English homophones. Today we’re going to pick up our grammar lesson by taking a look at comma usage in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s all Tom Riddle, Moaning Myrtle, and Basilisk fangs from here on out. And, you know, grammar stuff, too.

As I did before, I must warn you that this post contains spoilers, and I must ask that, if you have not read the Harry Potter series, you do so immediately. Run, do not walk, to the closest library or bookstore. I won’t even be mad that you haven’t read this post yet, as long as you promise to come back when you’re done reading. (If you’ve already gone and come back, I already know what you’re here to say. You’re welcome.)

Introduction to Commas

Commas are tricky little pieces of punctuation. Even the most experienced writers and editors sometimes struggle with correct comma usage. I could write an entire article on comma usage alone, but instead I am going to focus on three of the most common uses of commas.

Comma Use 1: Offsetting Non-Restrictive Clauses

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

A non-restrictive clause adds extra information to a sentence. This information is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. In the above quote, Dumbledore is speaking to Harry. Harry knows that Dumbledore is speaking to him, and the reader does as well. Still, Dumbledore feels the need to say Harry’s name, because he’s old, he’s wise, and he’s Dumbledore—he can get away with stuff like that. Harry is offset by two commas because it is a non-restrictive clause.

Comma Use 2: Separating Items in a Series

“Voldemort,” said Riddle softly, “is my past, present and future, Harry Potter. . .”

Spoiler alert: Tom Riddle is Voldemort. Or rather, Tom Riddle will become Voldemort. If you’ve read the book—which, I believe, we’ve already established that you have—you know what I’m talking about. In the above quote, commas are being used to separate items in a series. Tom Riddle messes with all our minds by referring to himself in the third person and warping our sense of time, something he definitely couldn’t have done without his artful use of commas.

Some of you may be wondering why there is no comma following present in this quotation. This type of comma, known as a serial comma, is typically not used in British publications, so you won’t find it in the Bloomsbury editions of the Harry Potter series. If you’re reading the U.S. versions, published by Scholastic, the above sentence will read like this:

“Voldemort,” said Riddle softly, “is my past, present, and future, Harry Potter . . .”

Don’t ask me why Americans and Brits can’t seem to agree on the use of the serial comma. I don’t have the answer. If I did, I would probably also know how Gilderoy Lockhart was ever hired as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher despite his raging incompetence. I don’t have all the answers, people.

Comma Use 3: Joining Independent Clauses with a Conjunction

There had been no more attacks since those on Justin and Nearly Headless Nick, and Madam Pomfrey was pleased to report that the Mandrakes were becoming moody and secretive, meaning that they were fast leaving childhood.

Mandrakes.An independent clause does not need additional information to make sense; that is, it can stand on its own as a logical sentence. Madam Pomfrey’s clause, like Madam Pomfrey herself, can totally stand on its own. (Shout out to independent witches everywhere!) Even though independent clauses can act as their own sentences, it’s sometimes nice to put related clauses together in one sentence. It adds variety to sentence structure, making writing sound better and more natural. There are a few ways to combine independent clauses. One of these ways is to use a comma with a conjunction (words like and, for, but, so, and yet). The information about Justin and Nearly Headless Nick is related to the information about the Mandrakes, which is why these clauses have been joined rather than made into two separate sentences.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading this week’s Harry Potter grammar lesson. If you missed last week’s article on homophones in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, please consider checking it out. If you have something super important to tell me about Harry Potter, commas, or magic in general, please feel free to comment on this post on Facebook or Twitter! Don’t miss next week’s article, which is going to look at interrogative sentences in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It should be intense. Not quite as intense as Severus Snape interrogating Ron Weasley about Polyjuice Potion, but pretty darn close.

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Learning Grammar through Reading: What Harry Potter Can Teach Us about English Grammar Rules (Week 1)

Learning grammar through reading

Homophones and the Philosopher’s Stone

Hermione taught you the importance of paying attention in class.Harry and Ron taught you about the bumpy roads that even the strongest of friendships sometimes must travel—even if you happen to be driving a flying car. Dumbledore taught you that you must be foolish to become wise, Voldemort taught you the meaning of the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy,” and Hermione taught you the importance of paying attention in Herbology class if you ever plan to escape from a tangle with Devil’s Snare. I could go on for days about the valuable life lessons I’m sure you learned from reading Harry Potter, but instead, I think I’ll teach you yet another lesson.

Learning grammar through reading is a great way to pick up on the nuances of the English language while also learning about the culture of English literature. The Harry Potter series was originally written with a young adult audience in mind, which means that it is easy to read but still contains mature themes and a fantastic story arc. With that in mind, this seven-week-long series will use quotes from all seven Harry Potter books to unpack some common English grammar and punctuation rules. After all, what better way is there to learn grammar than with a little bit of magic?

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, bookmark this page and come back after you’ve done so. I’m serious. Read it. Go. Now. Then come back. I’ll miss you.

Introduction to Homophones

We start our grammar quest at the beginning, with the first book in the series: Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, or—if you’re in the US—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Today we will use the story of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts to learn more about homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Some homophones are spelled the same, while others aren’t. An example of a pair of homophones is the words witch and which. Hermione Granger is a witch. Hermione must decide which is more important: following the rules or helping her friend defeat the Dark Lord. Homophones with different spellings are often mixed up by people who have trouble with spelling and grammar. In particular, there are three groups of commonly confused homophones.

Group 1: Their/There/They’re"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

 He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting up in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter—the boy who lived!”

Their indicates possession. It means that something belongs to someone. In the above quote, wizards all over the country are holding up the glasses from which they are about to drink—their glasses—in honor of Harry.

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

There is a somewhat tricky word to define, as it has several meanings. It can act as an adverb that indicates a place or a manner, or it can be used as a pronoun to introduce sentences in which the verb comes first, as in the above quote that begins with There are and explains just exactly how Hermione becomes friends with Harry and Ron. If it does not indicate possession and is not a contraction of they are, there is the correct spelling.

“Don’t worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers—I mean, they’re like a pair of human Bludgers themselves.”

They’re is a contraction: it is a combination of the words they and are. In the above quote, Gryffindor’s Quidditch captain, Oliver Wood, is talking to Harry about both Fred and George Weasley and how they are akin to Bludgers.

Group 2: Your/You’re

“Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?”

There is nothing more embarrassing than getting in trouble with Professor McGonagall—except, perhaps, using the wrong your. Like their, your is a pronoun that indicates possession. In the above example, Hermione has told Professor McGonagall that she tried to take on the troll alone—that is, all on her own.

“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed—or worse, expelled. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”

Just like they’re is a combination of the words they and are, you’re is a contraction of the words you and are. If you’re ever in doubt about which spelling of your/you’re to use, simply replace it with you are to determine if the sentence still makes sense. In the above quote, Hermione hopes that both Harry and Ron are pleased about their encounter with Fluffy, the three-headed dog. She’s a very smart girl, but I think her priorities are a bit off sometimes.

Group 3: To/Too/TwoWords of wisdom from Albus Dumbledore.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

Like there, to is a difficult word to concisely define, as it has many definitions. It can act either as a preposition or an adverb. In the above quotation, Professor Albus Dumbledore imparts some of his famous wisdom, advising Harry to leave the Mirror of Erised behind. A word to the wise: if Albus Dumbledore gives you advice, you listen. If Albus Dumbledore tells you to hop around on one foot wearing a tutu, you do it. He’s Dumbledore, guys. He’s Dumbledore.

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”

Too is an adverb with two possible meanings: it either means additionally or as well, or it refers to an excess of something, as in the above quotation from Professor Quirrell. Quirrell is paraphrasing Lord Voldemort here when he explains that an excess of weakness—or too much weakness—is the only thing stopping some people from pursuing and acquiring power. Remember what I just said about listening to Dumbledore? Yeah, the opposite rule applies to Voldemort. He’s Voldemort, guys. Voldemort.

“Oh, honestly, dont you two read?”

The definition of two is simple. This spelling refers to the number 2. In the above quotation, Hermione is questioning Harry and Ron for not knowing what the philosopher’s stone is. She is asking whether the two boys read, hence the spelling of two. This is something I often ask pairs of people who say they’ve never read Harry Potter.

Conclusion

This concludes our look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Don’t forget to check out next week’s post, where we’ll take a look at commas using Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. If you have any thoughts or questions about today’s article, please don’t hesitate to reach out by commenting on this post on Facebook or Twitter. If you liked what you read today, please consider sharing it with your friends. Friends don’t let other friends remain uneducated about homophones, nor do they ever back down from a game of wizard’s chess. These things are what friendship is all about.

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Learn American English

Learn American English

It’s fun to learn American English with GrammarCamp!

Learn American EnglishThe English language is now universally used in business, politics, entertainment, and other spheres. One might think this would mean the rules of English are the same throughout the world, but this is far from the case. In addition to the countless regional varieties of English spoken in various parts of the world, two major types of English exist: British and American. Many scholarly journals, businesses, and organizations prefer one variety over the other, which makes understanding the differences between them more important than ever before.

Despite the differences between the two types, learning American English does not have to be difficult. Online grammar courses are available on many websites, while schools and businesses may offer conversational courses to help eager students learn American English. Most courses introduce you to the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary that are common to many English dialects. Below, we highlight some of the major differences between British and American English.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the most obvious difference between the varieties of spoken English. For an experienced listener, the manner of pronouncing certain words can reveal where a speaker is from. When you learn American English, take the opportunity to listen to native speakers so you can hear the way certain letters, such as r and a, are pronounced in various words (such as farther). Although pronunciation is an important difference between the varieties or dialects of English, it is difficult to describe, and is more readily understood through practice than by reading text.

Grammar

When you learn American English, you will notice that it shares most English grammar rules with the other varieties of English. However, there are some differences, as outlined below.

Nouns: Collective nouns, such as herd, group, and class, often require singular verbs (formal agreement) in American English but require plural verbs (notional agreement) in British English. For example, in American English, you would say, “The team is preparing for the big game.” By contrast, the sentence in British English would be, “The team are preparing for the big game.” To avoid confusion in situations like this, you could rewrite the sentence to read, “The team members are preparing for the big game.”

Verbs: Although various verb forms are preferred in different varieties of English, the most common difference is the spelling of certain past tense verb forms. For example, in British English, irregular forms such as spoilt, smelt, and leapt are preferred, while those who learn American English should be careful to use the regular forms—spoiled, smelled, and leaped.

Prepositions: The usage and meaning of prepositions can vary between different forms of English. One common difference is how in and on are used. An American athlete plays on a team, while a British athlete plays in a team. The intricacies of prepositions, like those of verbs, are complex, so be sure to address these when editing your writing.

Vocabulary

All varieties of English share an extensive common vocabulary, but certain differences do exist. Many of these have to do with new concepts or inventions from the 19th century on. For example, an elevator in the United States is a lift in the United Kingdom. Other common examples of usage in American English/British English are given below.

cookie/biscuit, called/rang, cell phone/mobile, soccer/football, gas/petrol

Additionally, some words—especially slang words—have different meanings in various parts of the English-speaking world. Some of these meanings can be considered quite offensive, so the use of slang should be limited.

Spelling and Punctuation

The final category of differences involves those in written language. Although these differences may seem to be the smallest or least meaningful, they are actually the most noticeable in written English. If you are writing for an American audience, the following differences are vital in producing a polished final product.

Spelling (o or ou): Many words in American English are spelled with an o (e.g., neighbor or favor), while their British English counterparts may contain an ou combination (e.g., neighbour or favour)

Spelling (-er or –re): When you learn American English, please note that many words end in

er (e.g., center or meter) rather than the British English ending of –re (e.g., centre or metre)

Spelling (-ize or –ise): Many American English words are spelled using an –ize ending (e.g., authorize or organize), but both endings are used in British English, with –ise being more common (e.g., authorise or organise).

Punctuation: When you learn American English, you will notice that quotations are typically surrounded by double quotation marks “like this,”while in British English they may appear in single quotation marks ‘like this’. In American English, the periods and commas are placed within the closing quotation mark, but in British English, they are placed after the closing quotation mark. American English calls for the use of a period (called a full stop in British English) after most abbreviations such as Mr., which is often not the case in British English. Despite these (and other) differences, punctuation is more common between varieties of English than is spelling.

The differences between American English and other varieties may seem intimidating at first. The points noted above are some of the most common differences, and understanding them can go a long way toward helping you learn American English. If you still need more help learning English grammar, you should check out GrammarCamp, an online grammar training course developed by Scribendi.com, the world’s leading online editing and proofreading company.

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Bad Grammar Examples

Bad Grammar Examples

5 bad grammar examples to avoid

Bad Grammar ExamplesWhen speaking or writing, grammar is one of the most powerful representations of intelligence and authority. Right or wrong, people will form opinions based on the way you present yourself—similar to the way a well-tailored business suit helps project competence. If you want people to note your opinions rather than your bad grammar examples, avoid these common errors. You can also take our online course and spend a bit of time learning English grammar.

1. Subject–verb agreement errors

One basic rule of English grammar is that the subject (the one performing the action) must agree in number with the verb (the action or state of being). For example, in the sentence “Matt plays the guitar,” both Matt and plays are singular, so this subject and verb agree. However, most sentences, especially in academic writing, aren’t so straightforward. Descriptive phrases can get in the way, making it difficult to determine if the subjects and verbs agree. When this happens, eliminate all intervening information to get to the meat of the sentence.

  • Incorrect: The girl with the black and white puppies have a ball.

Because puppies is right before have, this bad grammar example is easy to overlook. Ask yourself who the sentence is about (the girl), and eliminate the rest:

  • Correct: The girl has a ball.

2. Pronoun–antecedent agreement errors

Like subjects and verbs, pronouns must agree with their antecedents, the nouns they replace. They must agree in both number and gender. Typically, this is easy, as in the following example:

  • Correct: Yolanda has her notebook.

However, with certain words, it is more difficult to determine whether they are singular or plural. For instance, indefinite pronouns (such as someone, anyone, few, none, or everyone) confuse many English speakers, as in this bad grammar example:

  • Incorrect: Everyone needs to bring their pencil.

Here, everyone is singular, so the pronoun before pencil must be as well. It would be more grammatically correct to say:

  • Correct: Everyone needs to bring his or her pencil.

Note that many modern English speakers use the plural their to avoid gender-biased language, especially in informal speech. If writing an academic paper, consult your style guide or professor to determine whether this is acceptable.

3. Sentence errors

To be a complete sentence, a group of words must begin with a capital letter, have ending punctuation (a period, question mark, or exclamation point), and express a complete thought. While most people understand the first two requirements, it’s the third that causes problems, with errors often resulting in sentence fragments or run-on sentences. Consider these bad grammar examples:

  • Incorrect: Because I wanted to go on a picnic.
  • Incorrect: When Al gets here.
  • Incorrect: Lisa went to the concert, she saw the band.

The first two bad grammar examples are incorrect because they don’t express complete thoughts: What happened because the speaker wanted to go on a picnic? What will happen when Al gets here? To correct this error, you must add an independent clause to complete the thought.

  • Correct: I brought a blanket because I wanted to go on a picnic.
  • Correct: When Al gets here, we can start making dinner.

Adding the independent clause completes the thought, facilitating understanding. The third bad grammar example is a run-on sentence; it provides too many complete thoughts without connecting them appropriately. To correct this, add a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) after the comma, change the comma to a semicolon, or make two sentences.

  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert, and she saw the band.
  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert; she saw the band.
  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert. She saw the band.

4. Descriptive phrase errors

Descriptive phrases can add depth and clarity to writing, but can also result in bad grammar examples. When writing, be sure your descriptive phrase is attached to the right word, and be sure to put your work through editing to avoid these common mistakes.

  • Incorrect: Smelling like rotten fish, my sister took the trash out.
  • Incorrect: Watching from the airplane window, the volcano erupted.

The first bad grammar example, implying that your sister needs a bath, involves a misplaced modifier. The phrase should be describing trash.

  • Correct: My sister took out the trash, which smelled like rotten fish.

The second bad grammar example leaves readers wondering who was on the plane—because it sure seems like the volcano was having a great trip. To correct this dangling modifier, add an appropriate subject:

  • Correct: Watching from the airplane window, I saw the volcano erupt.

While the above errors are sometimes difficult to catch, the bad grammar examples below can be a little bit more obvious (though they can still stump even experienced editors at times!)

5. Homonyms

Certain pairs or groups of words are confusing because they are similar but have different meanings. Review the following homonyms to avoid appearing lazy or uninformed and infusing your writing with more bad grammar examples.

It’s/Its: It’s is a contraction meaning It is or It has. Its is a possessive pronoun.

  • Incorrect: Its going to be a long day. Does the car need it’s oil changed?
  • Correct: It’s going to be a long day. Does the car need its oil changed?

There/Their/They’re: There is either a place or a pronoun. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction meaning They are.

  • Incorrect: Their goes my freedom. There going to bring they’re suitcases.
  • Correct: There goes my freedom. They’re going to bring their suitcases.

Your/You’re: Like the above examples, your is a possessive pronoun, while you’re is a contraction for you are.

  • Incorrect: Your going to need you’re notebook.
  • Correct: You’re going to need your notebook.

Affect/Effect: Most of the time, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.

  • Incorrect: That medicine effects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly affect?
  • Correct: That medicine affects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly effect?

Note: While this is an easy distinction, in certain cases, affect can be a noun, such as in psychology, and effect can be a verb meaning to accomplish.

Homonyms can be tricky even for experienced English speakers, so make a list of the ones you confuse most and check for them each time you write.

That’s all, folks!

By watching out for all these errors, you can present yourself in the best possible light, whether you’re writing an informal email or a university dissertation. If you don’t want your speech or writing to provide the world with even more bad grammar examples, check out GrammarCamp, the online course that will help you learn English grammar.

Image source: petradr/StockSnap.io

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Do Not Submit Articles Filled with Spelling Errors and Bad Grammar

Do Not Submit Articles Filled with Spelling Errors and Bad Grammar

Why submitting articles with errors may land you in hot water

Rejected.Do Not Submit Articles Filled with Spelling Errors and Bad Grammar

This is a word none of us ever wants to hear in any context, but especially when it’s attached to writing we have agonized over and, in some cases, spent months or years crafting. Rejection brings with it pain, disappointment, and often regret. The one rejected is left wondering what could have been done differently. That’s why it’s important not to submit articles filled with spelling errors and bad grammar!

There are no simple answers to ease the pain of most of life’s rejections. Fortunately, that is not the case with writing. If you have worked diligently to complete a text, chances are you have focused on the larger issues of writing—logical organization, eliminating redundancy, and strengthening arguments. But have you paid enough attention to grammar and spelling? Have you taken the time to learn English grammar?

In an increasingly digital world, we often ignore the rules of standard written English. We dash off e-mails riddled with spelling and grammar errors, knowing the recipient will be able to understand what we mean. While this type of writing is acceptable in day-to-day communication, it can lead us to develop bad habits that can carry over into our formal writing. If we don’t take the time to eliminate these errors through editing, we could be left with a document that causes editors to reach for their red pens, or worse, reject the article outright.

This brings us to the number one rule of article submission: check and re-check your spelling and grammar. If an editor cannot make it through one page without stumbling across errors in your writing, he or she likely won’t continue to the second page. Spelling, grammar, and typographical errors reflect poorly on the author—you. These errors suggest that you are careless, that you don’t take pride in your work, or perhaps that you simply don’t care. If you don’t take the time to meticulously edit and proofread your own text, then the editor is left to wonder what other shortcuts you may have taken.

Reviewing your article again and again may seem tedious. The English language, after all, is full of obscure rules that can strike fear into the hearts of many writers. But fear not; there is hope! Listed below are the most common—and easily corrected—grammar and spelling errors made by authors.

  • Subject–verb agreement: A cardinal rule in the English language is that the subject must agree in number with the verb. This easy-to-remember rule is sometimes hard to follow when sentences are convoluted due to complex ideas and descriptive phrases. Strip away the unnecessary phrases to determine whether your subject and verb agree.
  • Capitalization: Capital letters are used as signals. They can signify an important noun (e.g., John Smith) or adjective (e.g., American), the pronoun I, or the beginning of a sentence.
  • Ending punctuation: The punctuation that appears at the end of a sentence acts as a full stop, signaling to the reader that the thought presented in the sentence is now complete. Be sure that your chosen punctuation mark (period, question mark, or exclamation point) matches the meaning of the sentence.
  • Commas: Many writers dread the comma because it can cause numerous problems, especially comma splices. If you are using a comma to connect two complete thoughts (independent clauses) in a sentence, be sure the comma is followed by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, or so).
  • Apostrophes: Most problems with the apostrophe occur when a writer mistakes a plural (more than one) for a possessive (showing ownership). In this case, apostrophes are used to show possession: driver’s means belonging to the driver, while drivers means more than one driver.
    • Special case: The pronoun it can cause some confusion. It’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has, while its is the possessive form of it.
  • Homophones: These are words that sound like other words but are spelled differently. Homophones can wreak havoc on an article because many authors forget to search for these easy mistakes. Groups to notice in particular are: their/they’re/there, it’s/its, here/hear, your/you’re, to/too/two, through/threw, and weather/whether.

Eliminating these common grammar and spelling errors, and indeed all errors, will show your editor what you already know—that you are serious about and take pride in your work. If you struggle with learning English grammar or just need a refresher, do not submit articles filled with spelling errors and bad grammar. Instead, check out GrammarCamp, the online grammar course created by the editing experts at Scribendi.com.

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Online Grammar Course

Online Grammar Course

Get help choosing the best online grammar course now

Online Grammar CourseWhen you envision learning English grammar, what do you picture? Do you see stacks of books and hours spent in a classroom painstakingly repeating stilted phrases? Do you see yourself moving to a foreign country to fully immerse yourself in the language, potentially leading to culture shock? At one time, these were the two most common options. However, in recent years, experts have developed countless online courses for English language learning. These courses can be flexible and engaging, offering content to individuals seeking to learn English grammar online.

In fact, there are so many online English grammar courses that it may be difficult to find a course that suits your needs. A quick Internet search will return pages of links to various sites that offer everything from conversational English to college-level grammar—with an equally wide range of fees. Some free sites can help you get started, but they often do not continuously generate content or provide further challenges once you’ve mastered the basics. After you have moved on from a basic understanding of English grammar, where can you go to learn more?

The answer is more complex than a simple link. Online courses have certain advantages in common, such as the ability to work from a variety of locations and often at your own pace. Beyond that, however, they can differ widely. To find the best online grammar course, you first need to determine your particular needs. Before selecting a course, consider the following criteria.

  • Quality: An online grammar course is only as good as its content. Look for a site that is rated well in terms of both accuracy of information and depth of coverage. Research the site to determine whether the instructors are native speakers and have received formal training. Most reputable sources will provide you with a syllabus or course overview to help you determine if the course is right for you.
  • Audience: While some web sites are targeted to businesspeople, others may be targeted to teenagers, university students, or other types of learners. The intended audience for a particular online English grammar course will determine the depth (delving into intricacies/deeper issues) or breadth (covering a wide variety of topics) of its content. Additionally, your reason for learning English—such as gaining the ability to engage in casual conversation, improving your business communication skills, or becoming an English instructor—will help you determine which online grammar course is right for you.
  • Ease of use: If you are new to the English language, web sites in English can be difficult to navigate. Look for an online grammar course that uses intuitive navigation tools so you can easily find your way around. A course that moves seamlessly from lesson to lesson and provides quick access to additional resources can go a long way toward reducing frustration.
  • Variety: An online grammar course that provides variety, such as games, interactive lessons, videos, podcasts, quizzes, and live tutoring, may be the most beneficial for you.
  • Social media: While this fits into the “variety” category, social media is important in its own right. Learning a new language requires you to practice. The more you write blog entries, forum posts, and comments on other students’ work, the greater your understanding of English will become. Real-world practice in language learning is vital, and social media provides a unique chance for you to have instant, continuous access to other English speakers.

Knowing what you want from an English grammar course will help you find the one that’s right for you. The best online English grammar course is the one that meets all your needs. An excellent option is GrammarCamp, a fun and comprehensive online English grammar course offered by Scribendi.com, the world’s leading online editing and proofreading company.

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Learning English Grammar

Learning English Grammar

GrammarCamp makes learning English grammar fun

Learning English Grammar English is a tricky language, full of complex rules and contradictions, and learning English grammar can seem overwhelming. Despite this, English is a global language used by politicians, business leaders, and entertainers worldwide. With the growing importance of English has come an increase in the number of people wanting to learn the language, many of whom struggle with English grammar.

Learning any language involves four main aspects: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Some of these things are easy to practice on your own, but others require at least one other person for the practice to be useful. The following are some easy ways to improve your English grammar skills and increase your confidence.

Reading

You may find that working on your reading skills is the easiest way to begin learning English grammar. Newspapers, novels, and the Internet provide endless sources of material written in English, and reading practice can be done practically anywhere. Reading provides learners with a great starting point from which to build a working vocabulary and become familiar with the structure of English grammar. If you are not a native English speaker, be sure to have a bilingual dictionary handy to help in your reading practice. This resource will be invaluable.

Many web sites suggest that you begin with reading newspapers and other similar material. The drawback to this is that the text is often filled with difficult words that may cause frustration. Instead, try starting with children’s books that feature repetition of ideas, words, and phrases.

As you progress and encounter new words, try to use context clues—the words or sentences surrounding the unknown word—to determine what meaning would make most sense. Then use your dictionary to confirm your translation of those words. Keep notes to help you remember words and phrases.

Listening

Listening to native English speakers is another way to build your vocabulary and help you learn English grammar. English TV shows and movies can expose you to the cadence, pitch, and pronunciation of native speakers. Watch videos or DVDs over and over. The first time, simply try to determine the overall ideas. Then, work on picking up details and noting any new vocabulary words. Something else that can help when you’re learning English grammar, in addition to listening to recorded material, is to meet with and listen to native speakers in person. Find a regular conversation partner with whom you can practice on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Speaking

One of the best ways to learn proper English grammar is to converse with other English speakers. If possible, take a class that allows you to interact with others who are either learning English or are native speakers. Conversations with others will allow you to practice both your speaking and listening skills, substantially improving your fluency. In addition to speaking with others, learn to think in English rather than translating from your native language. This skill will increase the speed of your responses and will allow you to fully immerse yourself in conversation. You may also find it helpful to record yourself speaking in English.

Writing

Finally, writing practice will help you improve your English grammar skills. In the beginning, you may find writing to be tedious and challenging, but being able to look back on your written text is invaluable. Write something every day, no matter how simple or short. You could keep a journal, or you may prefer visiting chat rooms, forums, or blogs—or even exchanging messages with a pen pal. Reviewing or editing your previous writings can also be helpful. As you progress, search your earlier work for mistakes. This will help reinforce your progress and help you learn to revise your own work.

Mistakes

Learning a new language is difficult, and you will undoubtedly make mistakes. Don’t be embarrassed, but rather view these mistakes for what they are—learning opportunities. Embrace these mistakes and learn from them. Before you know it, you will have mastered the skills that are currently causing you problems. Then you can move on to more complex English grammar issues. A good place to start learning English grammar is GrammarCamp, a comprehensive and fun online grammar course offered by Scribendi.com, the world’s leading online editing and proofreading company.