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So you can fire off a three-paragraph e-mail in one minute and condense a day’s worth of thoughts into a few 140-character tweets. But how’s your grammar? Modes of communication like e-mail, instant messaging, texting and Twitter are changing a lot of things, like the way we get information, how we consume it and most importantly on National Grammar Day, how we compose it. Today is a chance to treat every utterance like it can’t be spell-checked by Microsoft Word.
The official site of National Grammar Day has a simple message for all those who want to “get involved” in the celebration: “Speak well! Write well! And on March 4, march forth and spread the word. We want people to think about language and how it can be used best.”
One way you can “march forth” is by challenging yourself with the University of California Press’s copy editing quiz, taken from their title “The Copyeditor’s Handbook.” You may feel like you’re back in the classroom where you first took the SAT. But even if you get the answers wrong, you’ll get an explanation of the right answers.
Grammar Girl hosts podcasts about common grammar and usage mistakes. Confused about “which” and “that”? “Between” vs. “among”? Need proofreading tips? These and more topics are covered in a format that’ll give you a nice break from screen-based reading.
Refer back to a good, old-fashioned book, “The Elements of Style,” for trustworthy tips and explanations.
The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar created the annual SPOGG Awards to expose the users of the worst grammar in the country, awarding both a person and a U.S. city. View this year’s winners and runners-up here. One runner-up in the person category was Courtney Love who, SPOGG says, “generates so many errors per inch of text on her blog that even the best instruments known to grammar scientists have failed to record them all.”
1. Pour two-and-a-half ounces of gin, a half-ounce of dry vermouth and several ice cubes into a martini shaker.
2. Shake. (The shaker—not your body or your dog's paw.)
3. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an olive. If you must, use a lemon twist instead. The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar likes olives, however. When life hands us lemons, we make lemonade.
Check out our Web Guides to Elementary School English and Middle School English for links to some quality sites and tips on English that you can impart to the young people you know.