"Grammar Queen" on the Grammar Scene
Friday, June 26, 2009 Grammar and MechanicsBy Erica Schatzlein, Writing Consultant.
I wish I knew everything about English grammar. In grad school, I loved my grammar classes. Making sentence diagrams feels like a game to me! (It’s OK, I call myself a nerd, too.) But there are times when I’ve forgotten the rules of a certain form. Or a student comes up with a question that just plain stumps me. Since I often work different hours than the other writing tutors, this always seems to happen when my colleagues aren’t around. (Yes, I’m the girl that answers your email at 8:30pm on a Friday night…)
So what do I do? For serious grammar questions, the APA manual provides little help. As the writing tutor, it’s not acceptable for me to respond, “Well, I really don’t remember. Can you come back tomorrow so Amber can tell you?” The truth is, we all need a little grammar help some days. I find typos in magazines and the newspaper. I’ve found typos in textbooks. I’ll bet you can even find a typo or two in this blog; they’re incredibly common. However, when you have a professor who is picky about grammar and APA, you don’t want them to be incredibly common in your paper, do you?
Here are some of the resources that I rely on for grammar questions. If you know what your problem is, there are numerous well-maintained resources on the web. For example, should you use insure or ensure in that sentence? Were your participants affected or effected? Sometimes I just go to Google and type in “affect v. effect.” Often, this will lead to university writing center pages that have examples and rules for proper usage. If you’re really lucky, you might even run across a quiz where you can practice the usage, like this one at the OWL at Purdue: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/interact/g_affecteffect.html. That might not help you get your KAM finished quicker, but it can be fun! (Fun for people like me, at least…)
In fact, the OWL at Purdue (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/) is one of my favorite writing sites. They not only have information on spelling and grammar but they also have APA information, help with transitions, hints for annotated bibliographies, and all sorts of sage advice.
The Guide to Grammar and Writing (http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm) has drop-down menus for numerous issues, ranging from simple grammar questions to how to combat writer’s block. This site also features more fun quizzes J.
Every writer needs some resources in their back pocket. I’m happy to share a few of mine. Let me know if you find anything wonderful!