1. CrystalWriter
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    CrystalWriter Member

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    Learning all again

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CrystalWriter, Oct 19, 2011.

    This may seem silly, but what is the best way to re-learn spelling, grammar & punctuation. This is the hardest part for me with writing, and takes an absolute age to go through my work, even then I need help. So I feel I want to tackle this head on.
     
  2. ScaryMonster
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    ScaryMonster Active Member

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    Hi Crystal,
    In the past, I've been a bit haphazard with grammar and punctuation, but once you get a basic idea of how it works you really don't need to stress out about it too much.
    There are applications like Whitesmoke or other grammar programs that can help you speed things up, but I've found that really once you've practised writing for a while, applications are just double checking tools more than anything else.

    Remember language is a living thing, write the way you think real people speak or to stress the point you want to make with your words. Don't be put off by grammar Nazis, many of the rules these pedantic types harp on about are almost extinct in the common colloquial patois that most English speakers use.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    The easiest way for me to remember is by using Microsoft Word, every time something shows up as "red" or "green," I pay extra attention to it and see what is wrong. I also keep some websites book marked for easy referral if I forget something. But honestly, the best way is to read and more importantly, keep writing.

    To further clarify:

    Punctuation is the easiest for me to remember, you capitalize names and the start of a new sentence. Straight forward.

    The best way I learn grammar is to read books and pay extra attention to how it is written. Also, like I already said, Microsoft Word also helps me immensely in pointing out what I am missing.

    For spelling, going back to the basics and sounding it out in your head will work most of the time. And again, Microsoft Word helps immensely as well for this.

    With all that said, if you go the Microsoft Word route, you need to actually pay attention to your errors and not just auto correct them and move on. You need to know how to do it correctly without Word. So pay attention.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the best way is by reading... backed up with good reference books/sites... you can email me for a 'tools of the trade' list that contains the basics you should have on hand... in one of the 'stickies' at the top of this page you'll find my list of websites you can keep in your 'favorites' menu for quick reference and study...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The advice you have is already good. Another idea: put a fairly light grammar book -- preferably one with bite-sized points -- next to the loo (US I think that would be "in the bathroom") and read random articles when -- er -- occupied.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The advice you have is already good. Another idea: put a fairly light grammar book -- preferably one with bite-sized points -- next to the loo (US I think that would be "in the bathroom") and read random articles when -- er -- occupied.
     
  7. katek
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    katek Member

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    Suggestion for a light grammar book - Eats shoots and leaves, by Lyn Truss

    It's not short but it is quite witty.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As grammar books go, it's short :)

    A similar length, and just as witty, is David Crystal's The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot, and left which rips Eats shoots and leaves to shreds.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it may be witty, but it shouldn't be considered a good guide to grammar...

    dig... i'd love to see that take-off!... great title!!
     
  10. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I would add to this:
    Also, don't take Word's word (see what I did there?) for it that something is wrong. It tends to have relatively frequent false-positives. This is simply a limitation of using software to analyse language. This is a notoriously hard problem, and for how much progress we've made in the decades that we've been rubbing computer chips together with words and phrases, what it can do is actually pretty impressive. We are still a very long way away from computers being able to replace proofreaders.

    What the spelling and grammar checks are really useful for is marking areas that you should go back and manually recheck. For grammar errors, Word will explain the rule to you, but 95% of the time, I don't even look at this, and 90% of the time I do, I decide that it's wrong and ignore it. That last little bit (half a percent if my math is right), it prompts me for what grammatical rule to go look up, which at the end of the day, still comes down to manual checking and correcting.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not so much a take-off. Crystal is an academic linguist who writes a lot of accessible books on the subject, and The Fight for English is really about the battle between those who seem to see "correctness" as a big issue (as he points out, Truss's "Zero Tolerance" is "the language of crime prevention and political extremism") and those who worry that an obsession with correctness is undermining a lot of people's confidence in using their own language. Amazon (UK -- I've not checked the US site) lets you read a few pages.
     
  12. CrystalWriter
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    CrystalWriter Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys. Sorry I haven't responded sooner, I was getting busy to join in with NaNoWriMo
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Pick up a highschool text book on grammar. I use the one Stephen King used growing up. I forget the name, and it's packed somewhere in a box right now.
     

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