Grammar Resources: What and Why

The word “grammar” excites some and bores or repels others. Why is the question considered later in this blog. Another question is What? What resources can help a writer or editor dust off or build up grammar skills? Here are some suggestions, including both recent and older resources:

Why grammar?

Many writers (and editors) who read widely develop an ear for good, clear writing, which allows them to make instinctive, effective choices in grammar most of the time. The result is that they can joyfully use (and strategically abuse) the rules of grammar as they need and want for clarity and impact. If you are one of these writers or editors, you might only want to use some of the books above to troubleshoot or to dust off your skills.

If you feel that you need to do some more work on grammar, need to defend your decisions, or have been told regularly that your writing is unclear or unpolished, then you need to dig deeper. Perhaps you need to brush up on your skills in English grammar to “naturalize” your English writing and to avoid importing constructions from other languages.

Another possibility is that you are rushing or imagine that a quickie grammar check with Microsoft Word will do the trick. (It won’t.) Here again you might want to brush up on your grammar skills. And it never hurts to read as much strong, clear writing as you can to develop that ear.

Maybe you know that your writing will go next to a copy-editor. Great; however, the more you attend to in your own writing, the easier it is for a copy-editor to edit your work well.

Maybe you resist grammar or dismiss it. If that’s the case, consider your goals and your readers. Can your readers understand your writing? Are you achieving your goals? Is your writing seeming to go unnoticed? Are you regularly asked for rewrites or clarifications? If your readers consider your writing to be unclear, unpolished, unprofessional, or embarrassing, then you have a big problem. Likely grammar is one source of that problem. If this is the case, think of grammar as just one support for the reader and one tool for you, the writer.

If you need to brush up on your grammar,  read as much as you can, read as widely as you can, and then have a look at some of the resources listed above.

© Laura Edlund 2010