A google search on how to improve your English grammar gives about 9 million results in less than a second. Since English is the undeclared lingua franca in academic research, any article that intends to help you improve your English grammar is read with rapt attention. And nothing makes advisors and editors more upset than sloppy grammar. While moderately bad grammar seems to suggest that the author is lazy, a case of really bad grammar can completely obscure the meaning altogether. It’s for this reason that even native English speakers keep a few grammar resources close at hand. Let us help ourselves with such avenues and resources that can help us with English grammar learning. Whether you’re relatively new to English, want to improve or brush up, or are a native speaker, there is something for you on this list.
1) Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
OWL is possibly the best, most thorough grammar guide available. In addition to explanations of standard grammar topics like “adjective or adverb” and “subject/verb agreement,” OWL also has full MLA and APA citation guides and specific sections on everything from grad school application writing to job application and business writing tips. Anytime you have a grammar question, this should be your first stop.
2) Common Errors in English Usage
“Common Errors” is available online (and searchable), as a plain text file, and for Kindle. The author, Professor Brians, is a bit quirky and very proud that his site has attracted over 15 million views since 1997. Scrolling through the list of errors can be a bit overwhelming – so many! But if you can never remember if it’s “effect” or “affect,” this is a great site for you.
1) English Grammar for Dummies Cheat Sheet
The publishers of the famous “fill-in-your-topic-of-choice for Dummies” book series have made a quick-reference grammar guide available for free online. This short, general cheat sheet is a good guide to keep on hand. That being said, it’s an overview so it would be best used to either remind you of the general rules or if you are working on your English grammar and the other sites are too overwhelming.
2) Cheat Sheet for Apostrophe S versus S Apostrophe
This is obviously a very specific cheat sheet, but it covers what is likely the most common error in grammar mechanics (that’s just a fancy way of saying “punctuation”). I keep this sheet handy myself because I can never remember the rules for plural possessives or possessives of words that end in s.
Lessons and Quizzes
If you are intent on improving your grammar, these are two of the best sites out there.
1) Daily Grammar 440 Grammar Lessons and 88 Grammar Quizzes
Step-by-step lessons, practices, and quizzes that progress from the easiest to the most complicated. This is probably the closest you can come to taking a class in English grammar, minus course fees.
2) Road to Grammar 365 Quizzes
Road to Grammar has 365 free grammar quizzes that you can take online or download them as PDFs and print them. Each quiz also comes with a link to “notes,” which explain the rule being tested. This site would be best for someone who doesn’t need full lessons, but still wants to brush up on their English grammar. You can take any quiz in any order.
1) Common Errors – Tip a Day
Short, entertaining quips explain one common error a day on this blog-style site. This is more for the grammar enthusiast or someone who wants to learn more than the basics.
2) Grammar Blog: Mocking Poor Grammar Since 2007
The author of this blog explains what happens when good grammar goes bad. For instance, a wedding invite asks for RSVPs for the “Bridle Shower.” The blog master points out that, unless you are marrying a horse, this is wrong. This page is an absolute hoot – and you can probably pick up a few tips along the way.
With all of these sites together, you can go from someone who is a complete novice to a person who is such an expert that they mock others’ poor grammar! All in fun, of course. But the real value of these sites, no matter what your level is, is that your writing will be clearer and you will endear yourself to your advisor, a journal editor, and anyone else who knows proper grammar.
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