Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top 5 Grammar Girl Podcasts that Every Freshman in College Should Listen To

I love Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for better writing. Her podcasts are awesome: so helpful and informative. As school starts this fall, I decided that a blog post with five great links podcasts and transcripts that cover some of the most common errors I see in student work would be in order.

  1. Comma Splice. If you ask a group of student what a fragment or a run-on sentence is, there's a good chance they can describe one to you, but ask 'em about a comma splice, and there's a universal blank that sweeps across their faces. So what's a comma splice? It's basically a run-on sentence with a comma seperating the two main clauses that run together. I guess they're hard to identify because there are so many reasons to use a comma, so there's not an obvious test to check for them during the editing process.

  2. Which versus That. Another area of contentions in student writing is the use of that verses which. I have found that most students use that correctly when they use it, but that it is not uncommon to mistake which for what should be that. Grammar Girl does a wonderful job explaining the difference by defining the restrictive that modifier, which is needed for the sentence to make sense, and the nonrestrictive which modifier, which can be left out and have the sentence still make sense. Another issue in the that/which debacle is punctuation. Just remember punctuation isn't necessary with restrictive modifiers (that), but is necessary with nonrestrictive modifiers (which), which can be left out of the sentence.

  3. Active Voice versus Passive Voice. Okay, so this isn't a common-error issue; however, I would be remiss if I ignored students' tendency to be overly wordy by using passive voice in their writing. To create clear and direct sentences, instructors typically prefer active voice in academic writing.

  4. How to Use Parallel Construction Correctly. Understanding parallel structure comes in handy in writing. It helps clarify your statements and has a pleasing rhetorical effect on the reader.

  5. Top Ten Grammar Myths. This podcasts debunks common myths about the use of language. Do you think that a run-on sentence is a really long sentence? Have you ever been told not to start a sentence with the word however? Do you use the word irregardless? These and many other questions will be answered in this podcast.


Mark Pennington said...

Why do we continue to teach grammar and mechanics with a strategy (Daily Oral Language) that simply does not work? Why do we force students to rehearse errors and teach grammar exclusively out of the writing context? Would love to hear your responses. More points at http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/why-daily-oral-language-d-o-l-doesnt-work/ and, more importantly, a grammar/mechanics warm-up/opener/bell-ringer that uses a balanced approach of error analysis and model writing is detailed at http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/sentence-lifting-d-o-l-that-makes-sense/.

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John Rembo said...

Understanding grammar rules comes in handy in writing as well. If you're not prepared for this assignment enough, kindly use this supplementary guide to strengthen your writings: popular grammar myths you probably dont know