We all have moments when we’re not sure if the grammar in what we’ve written is correct. We sense something is “wrong” about a sentence, but we can’t figure out what it is and why. Or we simply need a little reassurance about what punctuation to use and where it goes.
Here are 4 resources that can help you get the grammar right when you’re writing.
Grammar Help Resource #1: Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides clear explanations and examples for a comprehensive list of grammar, spelling and punctuation topics. It’s easy to find help with a particular issue through the search engine. The site also includes some general writing advice.
Grammar Help Resource #2: Merriam-Webster Online
All writers get stuck sometimes trying to find exactly the right word. Or they think they have the right word, but they’re not completely sure it will create the right impression in readers’ minds.
Merriam-Webster Online doesn’t just provide definitions of words and let you check how a word is spelled. It will also give you:
- different forms of the word
- suggestions for alternatives, sometimes with an explanation of the different shades of meaning associated with each alternative
- examples of how the word can be used
You can see this in action for the word satiate.
While you should be careful about straying too far from simple and direct vocabulary, Merriam-Webster Online is a great place to find the perfect word when you know the word you have now isn’t quite right.
Grammar Help Resource #3: Common Errors in English Usage
There’s a time and place for using non-standard forms of English, but your emails, blog posts and landing pages should mostly be written in standard English. You risk lowering the credibility of what you’re saying and selling if you’re making simple mistakes in your writing.
Professor Paul Brians’ website lists a large number of words and phrases that people often get “wrong” in some way:
- confusing two similar words, such as elicit and illicit
- applying a word to the wrong thing, such as restive when you mean rested
- mangling a phrase, such as writing strike a cord for strike a chord
It’s worth glancing through Professor Brians’ list to see if anything jumps out at you as something you sometimes mess up and need to pay attention to. You can also consult the list whenever you’re not sure if you’ve got the right word or phrase.
Grammar Help Resource #4: Grammarly.com
The free version of grammarly.com will find spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. It will also identify where you can cut out words to make your writing clearer. Finally, it will give you an assessment of your tone: do you sound encouraging or disapproving, or will your writing seem very formal or very informal.
Pay close attention to Grammarly.com’s suggestions for spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well its advice on making your writing clearer. But take its suggestions about tone and style with a pinch of salt. Use your own judgement about whether what you’re saying works for your intended readers.
Getting the grammar right is one of the cornerstones of creating writing that’s easy to read and gets your point across clearly. If you’re interested in finding out more about the other steps you need to take to turn your rough drafts into polished, shareable text, my Ultimate Editing and Proofreading Checklist can help.