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Home  > Article

Grammar for Grownups

By Aimee Whitenack

Perhaps when you think of "grammar," you remember diagramming sentences in the third grade. Thankfully, reviewing grammar doesn't have to be an eye-glazing experience.

 
Grammar, spelling, and articulation have the utmost importance on the cover letter and resume.
-Svetlana Husseini, recruiter
 

Just a quick appeal to the non-grammarians among us: Review your grammar.

Why? For one, if you're interested in publishing or journalism, a prospective employer may ask you to take a writing test. ("The editors don't want to have to train new hires in something so basic as writing," says a reporter from Bloomberg News.) In any industry, grammatical mistakes in a resume, cover letter, memo, or report will make you unimpressive-or worse, unemployable. Computer "grammar check" programs are inadequate, anddrum rollre-learning grammar is not only painless, it's fun-yes, we said fun.

Lo and behold, we've found a guide to grammar that's a page-turner: Grammar for Grownups, by Val Dumond. "Grownups reviewing grammar are astonished at how much they already know but have forgotten," writes Dumond. "All through this book, you will find yourself recalling the guidelines you need to write well, but which made no sense until you review them with an adult mind." Dumond goes so far as to compare grammar to the birds and the bees: "You may have the knack of it now because you've had a chance to try them outNow, suddenly, as grownups, all that stuff you learned in grade school begins to make sense."

Without forcing you to memorize a laborious list of terms, Dumond brings a sense of rhyme and reason to grammar. He'll show you the most prominent grammar glitches, teach you which rules you're now allowed to ignore, and help you use grammar to become a more persuasive writer. Isn't it time for a true skill-building experience?

Other recommendations:

  • In The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, author Karen Elizabeth Gordon uses a cast of gargoyles, murderous debutantes, and vampires to illustrate the basic principles of grammar.
  • A longtime teacher of business and technical writing to Fortune 500 companies, Joanne Feierman concentrates on the grammar most of us need everyday in her book, Actiongrammar. She also includes sections on memos, letter writing, and email etiquette.
  • You can search for free grammar tutorials or enroll in an online grammar course at www.hungryminds.com. If you do an advanced search for "grammar" at www.edupoint.com, you will find a number of tutorial options as well.
  • For quick answers to specific grammar questions, keep a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style handy or visit Strunk's Elements of Style Online.






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