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Grammar and Mechanics for Writers

Welcome to my Grammar and Mechanics for Writers Series.

Whether you're trying to polish your work to grab an agent or edit it well enough to self publish, grammar and mechanics are important.  In this series, we'll explore common mistakes made by writers.  

Each bite-sized chapter includes:
1) A quiz to see if you've already mastered the topic (if so, move on to the next chapter)
2) Explanations and rules of thumb
3) A worksheet to practice the skill


  1. I am able to easily see the mistakes of others, but I am hopelessly blind to my own. I did like how nicely you broke this topic down, though I am unsure it will help this hopelessly flawed writer.

  2. This Rule-Of-Thumb seems easy enough to remember, but there must be 10,000 Rules to Learn & Remember. I'm also convinced that no two of ten people with a PhD in English will agree on where all commas should go. And... doesn't it seem a bit embarrassing that anyone CAN get a college degree in English. People can’t get a degree in Korean because the language is so simple they learn it all by the end of the 2nd grade--then use their time learning Math, Science & The Arts. [I’m certain an English teacher would find at least 20 errors in what I just wrote (and fail me for Attitude.)]

  3. You're so right about comma arguments. There are a few that are pretty clear-cut and non-optional, but many are highly debatable. Some commas get left out because people think too many commas clutter things up, but sometimes leaving them out confuses the reader. As does putting them in when they're not merited.

    I'm not a huge stickler for following all the rules to the letter. But I'm a huge stickler for not confusing your reader. I think awareness of rules (even if we don't remember or know all 10,000 rules and precedents and suggestions) helps writers at least think about whether or not there's potential to confuse the poor reader.

    I've studied a few languages, and I don't think our basic grammar is as complicated a many. For example, Czech has 7 cases and 4 genders, and nouns decline all over the place (along with verbs conjugating). Probably 90% of my sentences have at least one error. But English does have so many irregular forms and oddities, resulting from the mish-mash of languages that have influenced English's development. And our spelling...atrocious. Many people in other countries don't even know what spelling tests are, because they don't need them. And those of you who have learned good spelling when English isn't your first language... I applaud you!

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