Like many people who grew up speaking English as a first language, I often felt that I had missed out on some fundamental lessons in grammar; that at some point during my school years I must have been out sick on the day everyone learned about modal verbs and modifiers.
This is not an uncommon problem, just recently a friend confessed that they were still unsure about the differences between an adverb and an adjective. And in 2010, Northumbria University published a study which found that a high percentage of native English speakers had trouble with basic grammar rules.
So, while many of us have an intuitive understanding of how language operates on a practical level, we may have missed out on basic lessons in sentence construction.
If you are working to improve your grammar, here are five useful steps you can take:
Get back to basics
It might sound obvious, but the best way to improve your grammar is to get comfortable with the basics. Before you try to wrap your head around genitive, nominative or accusative cases, give yourself a refresher on the basics of grammar. If you’re struggling with your writing, you might find that grammar is actually what’s tripping you up. Improvements in this area will definitely make your writing flow more easily.
Identify common mistakes
This goes hand in hand with getting back to grammar basics. Identifying the most common mistakes people make in their writing will help you to avoid the same missteps. Learn when to properly use semicolons, or the difference between which and that by reading through grammar blogs, or other helpful grammar resources.
Combing through grammar rules may eventually *whispers* get a bit boring. If you’re having problems with grammar or writing, commit some time during the day to reading. Reading is the surest way to improve grammatical accuracy, it will also increase your vocabulary and give you a sense for how professional writers play with language and sentence construction.
Read your writing aloud
While many people struggle with grammar in their written writing, we have a natural tendency to spot awkward phrasing when we hear things being read aloud. If you’ve finished writing a piece of copy, find a quiet space to read it aloud to yourself. Any misplaced punctuation or clunky sentences will quickly become obvious.
Proofread other people’s content
Having distance from the work you’re reading is important, so another way to improve your grammar is by proofreading someone else’s work. You’ll be able to look at the writing more objectively, which will allow you to spot mistakes more easily. Honing your editing skills will also have a hugely positive impact on your own writing.
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