Notice to online writers: proofread!




When I was first starting out in this writing business, I read a lot about how to make money from writing. One person in particular kept stressing over and over that writing online is a business, and must be taken seriously as a business. Great advice, but all of her articles were riddled with typos and simple grammatical errors. I tried to make allowances; English is not her first language. But then it wasn’t Vladimir Nabokov’s first language, either. Lolita may be a disgusting story, but he tells it with gorgeous prose. Perhaps you’re saying that his publisher provided a … Continue reading






Spelling, punctuation, and other fun topics




People who like to read and write like words and like playing with words, sentences, punctuation, and anything else that comes along with reading and writing. Now that so many of us are BFF forever with our electronic gadgets, we have new tools for communicating—or failing to communicate, as the case may be. Word processing software now comes with spelling and grammar checkers. I expect most writers find them helpful, but they don’t make a very good crutch. For one thing, some of the grammar checkers contain hard-coded grammatical errors. And even if the suggested correction isn’t simply wrong, it … Continue reading






Two pees in a pot: students’ misused pears




The Internet is full of bad writing by people who ought to take more pride in their work. In this series of posts, I have had fun with homonyms and enjoyed publishing the results of careless writers who choose wrongly from a pear (grin) of words. Now I find that teachers also enjoy posting excerpts from their students’ tests and papers. Some of those kids have a lot more serious problems than simply choosing the right word! Here are a few beauties: We were as close as two pees in a pot. He urines to be accepted. Steinbeck always wrote … Continue reading






Spelling, grammar, and why they still matter




When I was learning to read and write, I caught on pretty fast, but I can still remember the struggles of some of my classmates. Developing the fine motor skills necessary to form letters neatly is one problem. English spelling is another. We had long lists of words to memorize and be tested on. Drills on spelling, vocabulary, and basic computation skills seem to be disappearing from school curriculums. Perhaps the educational theorists who hobble our teachers’ ability to do their jobs effectively have forgotten how important basic skills are. Or perhaps they are so intent on raising test scores … Continue reading






Why good writing matters




Many people don’t like to write. That especially applies to students and the seemingly unending number of papers they have to churn out. What’s the point? You write something only one person (the teacher) will ever see. And then you get it back with all kinds of markings pointing out spelling errors, grammatical errors, and other mistakes. It’s especially galling when it’s not even a paper for English class! Why good writing can seem useless I have certainly written lots of papers. As a sometime instructor at the college and graduate school level, I have assigned and graded lots of … Continue reading