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Old 08-15-12, 09:46 PM   #1
Axiom
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I suck at grammar..

Well, it doesn't suck, but there is definitely room for improvement.

Could any of you refer a good book on grammar? I'm not taking classes this semester because of financial aid issues so I can't take composition II. I passed composition I with an A, yet my grammar still sucks. I'll bullet point a few key issues I struggle with. This post isn't a good example because I tend to make a LOT of mistakes, especially when I write essays.

• Sentence structure
• 'Advanced' punctuation
• Poor vocabulary



Thanks!

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Old 08-15-12, 10:01 PM   #2
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I would suggest Strunk and White Elements of Style
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Old 08-16-12, 08:26 AM   #3
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if you can find something that teaches you how to diagram sentences - and actually learn how to do it - you will find that your sentence structure will improve. You need to return to your basics, and be able to identify your parts of speech - all those nouns, verbs, adverbs, participles (past, present & future!).... one big key to sentence improvement is to make sure each sentence is in the same verb tense, that your pronouns have an obvious identifier AND that they remain in the same class.
Wulf is right on the money for puncutation - Elements of Style will teach you the rules.
as far as vocabulary goes, pick up a Roget's Thesaurus, and STUDY.

Overall, the best to improve your writing is to write. Assign yourself at least 3 written pieces per day - one short descriptive (ie, how to make a bowl of cereal), one expressive (what I think about something & why), and one essay-like piece. Set your WP to double space. Print out your 1st draft, and read your work - make obvious corrections, think about what you've read. Write it again. When you're happy with how your work reads out loud, find someone with great grammar & composition skills to review, correct, and edit your work. ( if you don't know anyone who fits that bill, look around where you live for an Adult Basic Education lab - if those folks can't help you for free, they may be able to point you to a retired English teacher who might help you)

READ alot - alot of essays, National Geographic & Scientific American articles - things like that. Actually examine the essays/articles you read. What is it about that 1st sentence that makes you want to read further? Notice the variety of words, the lack of repetitive usage.

If you plan a career in science (publish or perish?), half the battle is being able to communicate your research and findings in a clear, conscise, and interesting manner (the other half being obviously brilliant, of course!)

Good Luck!
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Old 08-16-12, 08:36 AM   #4
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Old 08-16-12, 03:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by apclassic9 View Post
if you can find something that teaches you how to diagram sentences - and actually learn how to do it - you will find that your sentence structure will improve. You need to return to your basics, and be able to identify your parts of speech - all those nouns, verbs, adverbs, participles (past, present & future!).... one big key to sentence improvement is to make sure each sentence is in the same verb tense, that your pronouns have an obvious identifier AND that they remain in the same class.
Wulf is right on the money for puncutation - Elements of Style will teach you the rules.
as far as vocabulary goes, pick up a Roget's Thesaurus, and STUDY.

Overall, the best to improve your writing is to write. Assign yourself at least 3 written pieces per day - one short descriptive (ie, how to make a bowl of cereal), one expressive (what I think about something & why), and one essay-like piece. Set your WP to double space. Print out your 1st draft, and read your work - make obvious corrections, think about what you've read. Write it again. When you're happy with how your work reads out loud, find someone with great grammar & composition skills to review, correct, and edit your work. ( if you don't know anyone who fits that bill, look around where you live for an Adult Basic Education lab - if those folks can't help you for free, they may be able to point you to a retired English teacher who might help you)

READ alot - alot of essays, National Geographic & Scientific American articles - things like that. Actually examine the essays/articles you read. What is it about that 1st sentence that makes you want to read further? Notice the variety of words, the lack of repetitive usage.

If you plan a career in science (publish or perish?), half the battle is being able to communicate your research and findings in a clear, conscise, and interesting manner (the other half being obviously brilliant, of course!)

Good Luck!
Wow, thank you both, I will do that.
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Old 08-16-12, 05:09 PM   #6
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Y'all from the deep south.Need not pay grammer any heed.
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Old 08-16-12, 06:34 PM   #7
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I would suggest Strunk and White Elements of Style
+1
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Old 08-18-12, 06:44 AM   #8
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Y'all from the deep south.Need not pay grammer any heed.
even the southern dialect has it's rules... there's a difference between y'all, y'all & 'em, y'all yous, y'all & all 'em, and y'all & all... something to do with who's related to who?
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Old 08-18-12, 07:32 AM   #9
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even the southern dialect has its rules... there's a difference between y'all, y'all & 'em, y'all yous, y'all & all 'em, and y'all & all... something to do with who's related to who?
Fixed that for you. Redundant apostrophes are everywhere these days, even among those of us who know better. Predictive text is a killer for this, my iPad insists on using it's where its is correct. I've had to turn off the auto-correct feature.

And strictly speaking, it should be who's related to whom. Tricky stuff, grammar.
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Old 08-18-12, 08:47 AM   #10
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I is fond of The Plain English Handbook
http://www.amazon.com/Plain-English-.../dp/0800917936
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Old 08-18-12, 08:52 AM   #11
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Predictive text is a killer for this, my iPad insists on using it's where its is correct. I've had to turn off the auto-correct feature.

And strictly speaking, it should be who's related to whom. Tricky stuff, grammar.
That's probably why Microsoft is the largest supplier of software for macs. At least Word on a Mac probably wouldn't have this problem.

Tricky stuff is right. Learning a new language is a massive amount of information. You do want to do it while your brain is still sharpest at about 3 years old, or by living where people are speaking it.
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Old 08-18-12, 03:55 PM   #12
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OP - if you go to amazon's Kindle e-book section, and search for Mann's "1493", you can get a little preview - it's the preface of the book, and is a really excellent essay......

Thanks, chasm54 - just goes to show what NOT proof-reading will do!
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Old 08-18-12, 04:08 PM   #13
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Axiom, start by reading your writing aloud, as if you are in conversation. If it does not sound right to you, there is something wrong with the sentence, go back and study it and re-write it. For a while you should concentrate on quality over quantity.

Like others have said, read a lot with attention to grammar and structure. Books by Tom Robbins are fun to use for this purpose, he's fun and an incredibly gifted writer.
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