1. wleon12
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    wleon12 New Member

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    how can I learn how to write with correct gramma, tenses. - I am near desperate

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by wleon12, Feb 25, 2012.

    Out of near desperation, I am asking this here. Where, how, can I learn how to write correctly? What mix of books, materials, and writer coach, or tutor can I use to learn how to write?.

    English is my second language but I did my college in the USA, and have been living and working in the USA for the last 15 years and English is the language that I use 95% of the time.

    I run a software team as VP of technology, however beside the actual work, my employer require that I have a public presence by contributing to a very influential –in our circles- technical blog, responds to clients questions or comments, submit articles to tech magazines and eventually publish a technical book.

    The problem is that I know I have no clue how to write, thanks to ms word spellchecker, the most obvious spelling problems get taken care of, but many still remain I have no idea if I am using the right tenses, or verbs or even writing in the best/correct way.

    I don’t want to sound dumb and hurt my career chances by using the wrong tenses, making glaring grammatical errors, construction sentences wrongly.

    So I want to learn how to write with the correct grammar, spelling, and proper sentence constructions etc. I am willing to put the time and effort.
    While I will always plan to use an editor before something goes to a magazine or publication, I need to be able to reach a level that will allow me to comfortable share my copy with other people in the industry and get comments. I also want to quickly be able to respond to any feedback or communication with properly written messages, either via email, or in the blog.

    I kindly request for some book or material recommendations, advice and ideas as to how achive this goal

    Thank you
    Mark
     
  2. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    I don't have any books to recommend, but just from reading what you've written here I don't think you're significantly worse than an average native speaker. You do make mistakes, but these are mistakes that if I didn't know you weren't a native speaker, I would think were merely typos.
     
  3. munkyphile
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    munkyphile Member

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    http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/resources/grammar.htm

    That is my favorite grammar resource. Pay particular attention to the "grammar is not math" section.
    English is a weird language with tons of twists and culs-de-sac where the same word can have multiple pronunciations and meanings and the whole mess of it be accepted as 'correct'. My biggest piece of advice is not to sweat it so much. Plenty of native speakers of the English language don't use it right half the time, and from your post I'd say you're ahead of the curve anyway.
     
  4. niko1052
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    niko1052 New Member

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    Even though I have a college degree, I too struggle with grammar and spelling. Occasionally my job requires me to write articles and since it's part of my job and necessary for me to survive in this downward economy, I simply use a professional editing company to proofread and edit my articles. The one I use is called The Editor's Studio and I have used them several times, especially if I have a deadline. It beats being stuck in front of the computer for hours trying to figure out the right word and saves me from potentially embarrassing myself in front of my boss.
     
  5. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    I would try posting pieces of your writing, and asking others to pour over it and make every little correction that is required. Over time, I think that could nearly perfect your grammar. Try more and more complicated pieces each time.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    READ!

    constant reading of good writing ['good' does not = 'popular'] is the best way to 'absorb' how to write well...

    and if you need help in the grammar area, take a refresher course online, or pick up some grade/jr high/high school textbooks and study the areas you're weak in... used books are priced as low as a penny, on amazon...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'll be frank. It sounds like you are looking for a quick fix to a long-standing deficit. You are caught up in a job competency area you have skated by on, and you are panicking.

    For the short term, as you are a team leader, you need to find someone in your team to assist you in "sanitizing" your blog entries. That is for the short term.

    For the long term, consider taking a composition course at a local college. Nearly every degree program these days begins with a course in writing at a college level.

    As Maia said, read. Not passively. Read critically. Examine sentence structure, and pay attention to what reads clearly and what comes across as a murky muddle.

    Use a spell checker, but don't rely on it. Buy a dictionary, and wear it out. Any word you are not absolutely certain of the spelling and the proper meaning, look it up. You'll still make mistakes, many of them. When one is pointed out to you, write it down in your personal bloopers notebook. Read that notebook until your eyes bleed.

    Above all, write clearly and simply. Don't feel every sentence has to cover every aspect of a thought. Break it into palatable pieces.

    It will take time, and it will take effort. But it's effort you are expected to have under your belt at your job level aas a core competency.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    As well as the things suggested here, I recommend that you buy a book on writing for academic/technical purposes (the kind of handbook many colleges use for their 1st year writing programme, since you may not have the time to attend an actual course). These books cover things like
    - describing objects
    - process writing, including 'How to' type writing
    I'm afraid I can't give you any names but I am sure they are easy to find. They help with phrases and vocabulary necessary, etc.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Read a lot of books, especially books that are similar to what you'd like to write.

    Also, read a few books about syntax and how you can use different writing mechanics to achieve certain affects. But fiction reading can help you figure this out on your own, too.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading novels may not help you a lot if you are wanting to describe technical stuff, but I recommend reading a lot of good-quality technical magazine articles to get an idea of the style, vocabulary, sentence structure etc people use.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Mark :)
    I was in exactly the same situation as you describe. Moved to an English-speaking country 20 years ago, been through the University in English, have worked an a communicatively demanding field but was still terrified of "not knowing how to write".

    First, let me say that if your post is anything to go by, your English is perfectly fine. Much better than a lot of native speakers (spelling included).

    With your level of knowledge (as demonstrated by your post), pure grammar etc is not going to be particularly helpful because you don't need to know the terminology in oder to intuitively speak correctly. Your "ear" is used to hearing people speak English, you'll intuitively feel if the tenses in the sentence is wrong, and when you edit what you wrote, you'll be making those corrections. Everyone does that.

    I'd suggest that you read a lot of journals as well as fiction, and to read other blogs similar to your own, see how others do it. But it just takes practice and confidence, and if you feel you need to, there are always courses you can take (but based on your post, I don't see that a language course is necessary). But you know best. Good luck!
     

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