School Related Favor

I am hesitant to do this because asking for criticism on the internet is never a good idea (it won’t always be constructive), but it might help me pull a higher grade in one of my classes so I’m going to take a leap. One of my classes is business writing related, and I’m taking a grammar test within the next two weeks. Would those who feel that grammar is a strong suit for them be interested in pointing out common mistakes I’ve made in my posts over the last two weeks? And any that I publish within the next week as well. I haven’t been writing my posts with the intent of asking them to be combed over, but this might work in my favor. The critics can find holes in my writing skills that I don’t even know exist.

The test focuses on parts of speech, identifying sentences by structure, and punctuation. I know I use far too many exclamation points, so no need to point that out. You can either comment below, or on the original posts where you see issues.

And if anyone knows of good websites where I can practice identifying these things correctly, please send the links my way! I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play (my current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook which just isn’t effective for me).

Actually, now that I’ve typed the sentence above, I’m wondering if punctuated it correctly. Where should the period go?

26 thoughts on “School Related Favor

  1. The period always goes outside the parenthesis. I think your grammar is normally pretty good. I don’t notice mistakes. I always turn to the Purdue Online Writing lab for help with APA formatting. I just checked though and they have a ton of different resources. Check it out:

    phruphru Reply:

    That’s a good link.

    The period does not go outside the parentheses if you write a whole sentence inside. In the last paragraph, you could have written:

    I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play. (My current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook which just isn’t effective for me.)

    Or you could have gotten rid of the parentheses entirely.

    phruphru Reply:

    Whoops, should have read further in the comments. Same topic already has been covered :)

  2. I’ll try to do it at some point, but am busy studying for the bar at the moment. As far as that one sentence (second to last paragraph), I would punctuate it like this:

    I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play. (My current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook which just isn’t effective for me.)

    If a parenthetical is just a short fragment as an aside, then you could finish up with that and put the period outside of the parentheses, but because both were freestanding sentences, I think it’s better to put a period on each. If a parenthetical is a sentence, the period goes inside.

    This is sort of fun as I usually try not to point out grammar mistakes to anyone online as that can be annoying, but since you’re giving permission, I don’t feel bad! : )

    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you so much! Your suggestions have been both helpful, and kind. I’m going to work hard to memorize the who/whom trick. I’ve always struggled with that.

    Tamara Reply:

    Of course, of course–everyone hates nasty grammar police on the Internet! Ha, I now feel super nervous about my grammar in comments, even though I usually wing it since I see it as an informal setting. Weird! Best of luck on your course, I’ll comment with suggestions on other posts when I have a bit more time. (Of course, I’m totally procrastinating reading other people’s suggestions as well. Whoops!)

    Jess Reply:

    Who and whom are easy. Replace it with he/him and decide what sounds right. If it’s he, use who, if it’s him, use whom.

    Who is going to the store with her?

    In this case, “He is going to the store with him” sounds right so it’s who.

    Now, try “She is going to the store with whom?”
    Here, “She is going to the store with him” sounds correct so it’s whom.

    Basically, whom is used if it’s the object of a question, who if it’s the subject. He/him is just an easy proxy.

    Steph Reply:

    I agree that you usually have pretty strong grammar, although I usually am focused more on content!

    My opinion on this subtopic is that it’s generally better within formal writing to avoid long phrases and complete sentences within parentheses whenever possible.

    There are many ways to eliminate the parenthetical statement belong and make the paragraph stronger.

    Instead of “I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play (my current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook which just isn’t effective for me),” one example could be:

    “I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play, because my current method of memorizing directly out of the textbook just hasn’t been effective for me.”

    As an aside, the comma is used after “because” in this case to eliminate multiple interpretations.

    You can also use the semi-colon:

    “I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play; my current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook, which just isn’t effective for me.”

    I feel that the sentence above has an overly formal feel for a blog, but it would be the more acceptable to use the semi-colon than the parentheses in business writing.

    Blogs are informal, though, and I think it is a little tough to hold blog writing up to the standards you’ll be judged against for the exam. I’d be happy to read over an essay or something formal you’ve written for class. and I bet others would, too.

    Good luck!

    Steph Reply:

    errr *below. sorry! proofreading! it’s important!

    Sara Reply:

    Just wanted to add you need a comma before “which” since it seems to be modifying textbook. And I’d avoid parentheses as well. Periods always go inside parenths.

    So, I’d write: I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play. My current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook, which just isn’t effective for me.”

    I’d likely actually write the last sentence differently: I’ve been trying to memorize the textbook but it just isn’t working for me.

    Grammar Girl offers great podcasts and tips. A fun grammar book is “Eats Shoots and Leaves” The title is a great example of the importance of the comma

  3. I think diagramming sentences is a great exercise for practicing parts of speech and structure.

    Here are a few comments on your latest post:
    - The first sentence is awkward and too long.
    - “related to business writing” (as opposed to “business writing related”
    - The 4th sentence of paragraph 1 is actually a fragment.
    - “I’d love to find a site that provides games I can play (my current method has been attempting to memorize directly out of the textbook which just isn’t effective for me).” In this sentence, I am wondering about your use of “which.” What word is it modifying? Method? If so, I would put the modifying clause closer to method. If it is modifying textbook, then you need a comma after textbook (unless you are trying to implying that you have several grammar textbooks for the class).

  4. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I believe you are not supposed to start sentences with “and” (conjunctions). I believe the “new” rule is that if you can take the conjunction out and the sentence still makes sense, you shouldn’t start with one but if it is essential it is OK to leave it in. Again, not a pro, just got wacked with a ruler by a mean old teacher back in the day when diagraming sentences and all that fun stuff. Heck, do kids even DO that anymore?

  5. I found a very cool tool built right into MS Word. Go to File – Options -Proofing – and then check “Show readability statistics”. when you do that, you will see what level your writing is at, and also what the Flesch number is.

    So when I cut and paste the text of your above post into a word doc, highlight it and check the spelling/grammar, I see that it was written at approximately an 8th grade reading level and with a Flesch scale rating of 69.8.

    Very helpful and also very free and built right into Word!

    Jenna Reply:

    What a cool feature! Thanks Jenny.

  6. I’d be willing to help, Jenna. I was a daily newspaper reporter and copy editor for four years before moving around the last couple years. I’ve got the resume to back it up!

  7. I’m going to be out of town for a week, so I won’t be reading blogs as much, but teaching grammar and such is what I do for a living, so if you want to ask me any questions, feel free to shoot me an email! The Oatmeal has some great (and funny!) grammar charts I like to use in my class.

  8. Jenna, I hope your schooling is going well. I’m jumping in here because grammar and language are my primary research interests. I enjoy the Grammar Girl podcasts–quick and easy to understand. I’ll second (or third) the suggestions to use Purdue’s OWL, but UNC’s YouTube channel has some really amazing resources for writing, style, and grammar. I would definitely recommend checking it out: Also, for a fun reminder, search “schoolhouse rock” on YouTube–they’ve done cartoon songs for almost all of the parts of speech and I still sing most of them in my head when I’m asked to identify such things.

    As far as your posts go, I think you do a nice job of communicating. It’s important to remember that we use language for different purposes and audiences, and we have a flexible set of grammatical resources we can employ based on those purposes and audiences. It’s like having options in our wardrobe. I don’t wear the same kind of clothes to teach in as I do when I’m the student. It’s the same with grammar. Blogs are a particular kind of writing and typically are less formal than academic writing (which is what I’m assuming your test is going to be based on). It’s just important, I think, to remember that we have different grammars at our disposal, and we are constantly changing language to suit our purposes. I find that exciting! Now I’m just geeking out so I’ll stop….

    If you’re looking for a resource, though, the best grammar book I’ve seen is called The Magic Lens, but the English Grammar Handbook for Dummies does a nice job of being engaging and teaching the lessons in a way that makes sense.

    Jenna Reply:

    The schoolhouse rock tip is so great!

  9. I know you are not writing formally in these posts, but don’t begin your sentences with ‘and’. Good luck :)

  10. I think your grammar is pretty good in general, particularly given that this is the Internet. The only things that I would mention are the sentence fragment that was pointed out above and your tendency toward longer sentences. Most of the time when you find yourself inclined to use parenthesis what you are saying could just as easily be rephrased into its own sentence. That would make it a little easier for reading comprehension. I should also point out that you use a lot of contractions. That is fine in a blog post, but if it was a formal academic setting my fingers would be twitching for my red pen. For the most part though your grammar is significantly better than what I see from my students.

  11. As a proofreader/copy editor myself, I would say that your grammar is fine. I think where many problems crop up for bloggers (not necessarily you specifically) is that we type quickly and get things on the screen and don’t realize we’ve dropped words (like you did above with “I’m wondering if punctuated it correctly”). Or we use the wrong there/they’re/their or it’s/its, etc. Of course, as someone mentioned, many bloggers are more casual in their writing style than you would probably need to be for a university class.

    My suggestion, when taking the test, is to go with your instinct. It’s usually correct. As for proofreading your own papers, see if you can find someone to read through it once for you. If not, my tips are to read it out loud to yourself, and to read each sentence on its own, starting from the end. (That way, your mind isn’t instinctively trying to connect the dots via context and you thus miss mistakes.)

    Be aware that mistakes tend to run in groups. If you find a typo or a dropped or incorrect word, it’s probable that there are other, similar mistakes nearby. (By the way, I just typed “probably” instead of “probable” and had to correct it. ^_^)

    Finally, if you get back a paper with a lower/bad grade and the professor/TA has marked it up, learn from those mistakes. (As for formatting, etc., those that linked to the Purdue site gave you some good advice.)

    Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do fine! ^_^ <— smilies are definitely not allowed on a paper!

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