Although I’ve been a voracious reader since the tender age of 4, I was actually a lousy student in English classes.
Diagramming sentences in the fifth grade was sheer torture, and I really never learned the formal rules of grammar. Everything I know about proper sentence structure I learned by reading books with proper sentence structure.
I depend on my “reader’s ear” to tell me if a sentence is grammatically correct or if a slightly incorrect sentence can be used legitimately for a certain effect. Most grammar potholes jar my reader’s ear, showing me where the problem is. Unfortunately, I don’t always know how to repair those potholes.
I am unlikely to grab a grammar book and read it. Who has time for that? So, like everyone else on the planet with electricity, I usually turn to the Internet, or literate friends, for advice.
Most word processing programs have grammar checkers. Sometimes they work perfectly, and sometimes they fail to give you enough information to fix your sentences.
Here are some of the sites I’ve found useful for quick guidance when a grammar goblin attacks my writing:
- Dictionary.com has useful examples of proper word usage along with definitions.
- Capital Community College’s Guide to Grammar & Writing.
- Grammarly studies whatever text you ask it to and tells you what’s wrong. This is not a free service, but may be worth the cost if you routinely need help with your writing.
- GrammarBook.com has plenty of free articles on grammar and usage easily accessed from the home page.
- Dr. Grammar, a service of the University of Northern Iowa, offers a wealth of resources clickably linked (egads, is that a real phrase?). Lists include everything from dictionaries to grammar guides, slang to clichés, word origins and more.
- Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) has links to resources and articles on general writing and grammar.
Do you have grammar resources you rely on regularly? If you know of a good site I haven’t listed, please post it in a comment.