The Focus Is You

Grammar Help

Did you know that you can type in the name of almost any grammar or punctuation problem (comma splice, run-on sentences, subject/verb agreement, its and it’s, parallelism, commas, sentence fragments) and find a list of sites which can help? Look for sites based on grammar textbooks or sites indicating affiliation with an educational institution. Textbook sites often end in .com, and university sites end in .edu.

For fun look at The Apostrophe Protection Society, a British site. It posts photos of actual signs with misused and abused apostrophes. The site has links to The Queen’s English Society, another British site, of course, and a German site, Apostrophen Katastrophen.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a punctuation book. The panda joke everyone mentions may be viewed in the Amazon.com review of the book.

Other grammar books with good information and some good fun include The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, Woe is I, and of course, The Elements of Style, a classic by Strunk and White.

Textbooks offering accessible online exercises:

  • Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference
  • Prentice Hall Handbook
  • The Little, Brown Handbook Online
  • The Holt Handbook
  • The Everyday Writer Online: Companion Site — 20 most common errors and FAQs, but must have the book for exercises
  • Quick Access 4/e—Tutorials, Blue Pencil

Most universities have Writing Centers and many of these offer handouts or exercises. Writing Centers are listed on University Web pages under headings such as “ Learning Center ,” “English Department,” “Academics,” or “Student Services.” One well-known Writing Center site is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL for short). Purdue’s site may be found by typing in the name of a grammatical problem, such as subject/verb agreement, or simply Purdue Online Writing Lab. This OWL has wonderful handouts and exercises.

Some other good university Writing Center sites are found at:

  • University of Houston
  • University of North Carolina

Other good web sites include:

  • Grammarlady.com
  • Webgrammar’s Place (Under Grammar Tips there are links to “How do I diagram” sites)
  • E-Library of Exercises—parts of speech and quizzes


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The Focus Is You