Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video How to get the most out of this course, part of Grammar Foundations.
When people are asked why they don't like to write, or more specifically, why they don't like to be reminded of the need to proofread for grammar and punctuation correctness, often they cite the reason as just too many rules to remember. Are there too many rules to learn? Of course. Look at any grammar handbook: page, after page, after page of rules. The one on my desk has almost 600 pages of really tiny print. Even if you were to learn all the rules, being able to recite the rule is certainly not the same as being able to apply the rule. For example, you might memorize this rule. A subjective-case pronoun is needed after a linking verb because a linking verb needs a subjective complement, which may rename or describe. There, now you won't make that error again, right? Unfortunately, grammar, like any other area, has its own jargon. In this case, grammar terms, but I believe that a person can memorize every grammar rule in that 600 page handbook and still not be able to apply the rules correctly. Or someone may comment that the rules have changed or that the rules conflict. One time “me” is correct, the next time “I” should have been used. I can think of no grammar rule that has changed in the past 40 years, and yes, sometimes “me” is the correct word, and other times “I” should be used. More likely, that person learned just a portion of the rule and didn't understand the entire context. I've also heard the comment, "That just doesn't sound right," when they learn the correct rule. Remember that if you've heard something used incorrectly all your life, that version sounds correct, and conversely, the correct version sounds incorrect. Learning why something is correct is the first step to being able to hear the correct sound. You will notice an overlap of some of the concepts as you progress through the lessons. For example, in the sentence structure lesson you will be introduced to dependent and independent clauses, which make up a complex sentence. Then in the clause phrase lesson, clauses will again be discussed. Also the use of the comma will be discussed in multiple lessons. Why the repeat? First, these rules are not mutually exclusive. As you will see, they overlap. Second, the repetition is reinforcement to help you see the big picture: how all the concepts are interrelated. You'll also notice that frequently when I give you a couple examples for you to determine which one is correct, the correct answer will be, "It depends," because which is correct certainly depends on the writer's intended meaning. So, to get the most out of this course, put aside your previous experiences with trying to learn the rules. Get rid of the excuses. Focus on how to apply the rules and be willing to analyze those "it depends" situations. Finally, to get the most from the course, be willing to take the time to apply and practice correct mechanics.
- Why does grammar matter?
- Diagramming sentences
- Understanding pronouns
- Working with adjectives and adverbs
- Making sentences parallel
- Deciding when to use active and passive voice
- Using commas correctly
- Practicing grammar rules