Grammar

Top 10 Writing Mistakes Part 2: Today

by Travis Heermann  ||   No Comments

In Part 1, we examined error studies of writing during three decades of the 20th Century: 1917, the late 1930s, and 1986. We found that the nature of the errors shifted slightly–even though the primary errors were with comma usage, pronouns, spelling/misused words, verb tense–but the incidence of errors held steady, at about 2.1-2.2 errors per 100 words. This indicated that writers were not making more errors, just various mixtures of many of the same errors.

But what about today?
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Top 10 Writing Mistakes Part 1: the 20th Century

by Travis Heermann  ||   2 Comments

Many people speculate that writing is getting worse. Employers lament the ubiquity of text-speak and inappropriate informality in professional communication from new college graduates. Grammarians gnash their teeth at the downturn in writing quality across the board. But is it true? While it is true that technology is changing how human beings interact, the effect on the English language is being played out even now. Language, as well as our use of it, evolves continuously, and the only time a language ever stops evolving is when it dies (e.g., Latin).

Linguistic studies at various years in the 20th century and today reveal some surprising facts about the way college students have used English in previous decades. We can extrapolate about the quality of writing of recent college graduates based on the quality of their college-level writing. As college graduates enter the work force, their employers will quickly discover the level of their abilities.

Below are the results of linguistic studies performed throughout the 20th century.
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How Many Kinds of Grammar Are There Really?

by Travis Heermann  ||   No Comments

Most people believe that English grammar is simply English grammar. There is a right way and a wrong way to construct a sentence, a right place and a wrong place to put a comma, words that go together and words that don’t. For the most part, this is true. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of tiny rules that native speakers instinctively know and follow when communicating. What most people don’t realize is how mutable some of these rules are, and how others are not, and where the differences lie.

For example, did you know that types of adjectives are nearly always used in a certain order? Take a look at this phrase: the big yellow Chinese vase. There are three adjectives, big, yellow, and Chinese, all of which describe a vase. Try speaking the same phrase with the adjectives in a different order.

On the other hand, consider the sentence, “We might could go out tonight.” It sounds strange to a large portion of the English-speaking world, because there are two modal verbs, might and could, when normally only one is allowed. However, to natives of the American South, it sounds perfectly fine, and, in fact, carries shades of meaning that are different from either of the phrases might go or could go. If meaning is accurately conveyed, isn’t it still “proper English?” (more…)

Good Grammar Survives the Texting Age

by Mistina Picciano  ||   No Comments

Seemingly overnight, texting has altered how people use grammar. “Techspeak” is creeping into the personal and the business environment. It’s become a grammar free-for-all where punctuation has disappeared and capitalization is MIA. In speeding down the information superhighway, it is important to not get pulled over by the grammar police. Following grammar sends the message that you are knowledgeable and professional despite operating in an increasingly informal world.
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