Starting a blog can be daunting. All these (mostly) unreasonable questions may go through your mind:
Will anybody read it?
Can I handle the trolls who are bound to leave their unwanted print in the comments?
Do I have anything to add to a world already saturated with bloggers?
It’s likely that one of the last things you want to do is worry about how to improve grammar. Trying to remember your login for your WordPress, your blog host, and all the other technical websites is challenging enough.
But excelling in grammar will set you apart from others. Learning grammar basics will make it easier to string one appealing sentence right after another.
Learning more about grammar doesn’t mean you have to follow all the rules, but you can at least determine which ones are okay to break.
Following are some simple ways any blogger can quickly improve grammar:
1. Keep it Simple
First off, don’t expect to become a grammar guru in a day. You need to allow yourself some time to become more familiar with grammar principles.
You don’t have to be able to explain what a predicate is or whether you conjugate a verb or a noun. Keeping your grammar study simple will keep you from getting burnt out.
Here are a few ways to keep your quest for improving grammar simple:
- Focus on improving one area. Choose one grammar or punctuation principle you struggle with and start by learning more about that. Do you struggle with commas? Are verbs your weakness?
- Learn a little bit each day. Follow Grammar Girl on Facebook for tips, articles, and podcast links on a daily basis. You can also check out Grammar Bytes on Twitter for daily grammar exercises!
- Make a plan. Once you’ve picked which area you want to improve, choose a few minutes each day you’ll learn more about that rule. Apply what you learn to your writing.
2. Start Online
One of the best ways to keep your grammar study simple is by searching for information online. Don’t worry about checking out 20 pound books from the library that won’t fit into any bag you own.
Here are some of my favorite online resources for learning grammar:
Grammar Girl – I already suggested to follow Grammar Girl on Facebook, but she also has a blog and a podcast. She keeps her grammar lessons simple and fun, which isn’t always easy.
Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) – This site has excellent resources for writing and grammar. Check out Purdue OWL when you have questions about a specific principle.
Education First – This website provides simple explanations for grammar rules. If you’re feeling extra zealous, you can even take their grammar test to see how your grammar skills are doing.
Grammar Bytes – I recommended following Grammar Bytes on Twitter for daily grammar exercises, but their website has even more resources. Dive into grammar with more exercises, handouts, a course, and videos.
3. Have Fun
Gone are the days when you can’t have fun while learning. It’s all up to you now!
Here are my favorite fun grammar resources:
Grammar Girl definitely makes learning grammar fun with her creative examples.
Shepherd Software Grammar Games – Okay, it may seem a little juvenile, but I actually love learning games (and I’m not a game person). I’ve used elementary/middle school level games to help me with geography and grammar. And guess what, I’m not ashamed at all.
I channeled my inner 7th grader and played “Panda Pop” to freshen up on parts of speech. I had fun, and it was helpful.
Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner – If Grammar Nazis are annoying to you, check out this book on grammar basics for “grammarphobes.” O’Conner approaches grammar with refreshing humor.
4. Enlist Help
Ask for help from a writing pal or a freelance copyeditor. If you’re serious about improving your grammar skills, one of the best ways to get better is to have someone else provide constructive criticism.
People tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Someone might be great with description and conciseness but struggle with using commas correctly.
If someone else edits your blog posts or another type of document, they’ll notice a pattern, too. Take the feedback you get and use it to improve.
5. TRY SENTENCE DIAGRAMMING
Yes, I know I said “simple” ways to improve grammar.
You may not think diagramming sentences could qualify as simple, but hear me out.
Learning how to diagram sentences can seem super annoying, but once you have it down, it’s not bad at all.
Diagramming sentences is one of the best ways to figure out how to structure a sentence. Once you are comfortable with diagramming sentences, you’ll start to do it in your head and won’t have to write it out anymore.
Check out Grammar Revolution to learn more about sentence diagramming.
6. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Just as with any new skill, the best way to get better at grammar is to practice a lot. Learn what your common mistakes are, and make an effort to improve each time you sit down to write again.
Discover what works for you when writing so that you actually do it and enjoy it.
Do you like to write in the morning? Or do you feel more creative at night? Do you like to write in the dark?
I stay at home with my two little kids, so my time to write is usually during those precious few hours when they’re napping. I love writing when I’m all alone, and the lights are dim.
To make writing happen, I have to make sure I’m doing it at a time and in a place that works for me.
Investing a little bit of time in improving your grammar skills will pay off. Don’t expect to become a grammar genius overnight, but make an effort to become better little by little.
What are some of your difficulties with writing? What are some questions you have?
I’d love to read your comments and help in any way I can! Also, check out my Facebook page for writing tips and my latest blog posts.