Have you ever mistakenly written “their” in the place of “they’re?” How about “ad” instead of “add?” Do you sometimes use “beside” in place of “besides?” Perhaps you’ve made the error of creating the combo “could of” (which doesn’t exist), in place of “could have.”
This can be very frustrating for editors, and that means you might not have the opportunity to work with them again. How sad, especially since these mishaps could have been prevented by paying closer attention to proper usage of English. I’d hate for a simple homonym oversight to result in that oh-so-dreaded rejection letter.
There are several resources I refer to so I can keep my grammar sparkling and my editors smiling.
- Try out Grammar Slammer. Englishplus.com is a fun and useful Website. Style and usageCommon Mistakes and Choices are two links that will undoubtedly enhance your writing skills. For even more knowledge, click on Grammar Glossary beneath “Other Resources.”
- Alan Cooper’s homonym list is a very handy site. Starting with the letter “a”, he goes through the alphabet listing homonyms that are commonly misused. This list will definitely refresh your memory and aid in writing grammatically correct articles.
- Speaking of Grammatically Correct, Anne Stilman is the author of a book titled as such.
It is cram packed with examples and exercises to tickle your brain and sharpen your English skills. I keep it in my writer’s reference library and reach for it anytime a word is in question.
Why is English grammar becoming such an issue? Have parents failed to teach their children the correct way? Do teachers get the blame? Are youth just too preoccupied with PDAs, cell phones, and game boys to even give grammar a second thought?
Is it a regional concern? Perhaps we just pick up on certain writing/speaking styles and just can’t pry ourselves away from that comfort of habit. Who knows? There are so many people/circumstances we could blame. The main thing is that we need to embrace our lovely language and study until our words glisten with perfection!
Nonstopenglish.com is another place where you and/or your child can brush up on English grammar. There are several quizzes, word games, and sentence exercises to choose from. This Website can be a fun learning tool and a sneaky way to share in your child’s learning.
I’m also fond of The Elements of Style: The Original Edition.
Freelance writers I know have kept this small goldmine on their desks for years.
Regardless of which reference book you prefer, how many years you’ve been a freelance writer/author, or which writer’s sites you frequent, never become “grammar lazy.” No matter how old we are, we’re never too old to learn something new or remind our tired memories of something we once knew but forgot somewhere along the way.
Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep that grammar glistening!
Remember: The less an editor has to edit, the greater the odds that you’ll begin a flourishing editor/writer relationship that may last for decades to come. Good luck!