The Editor's Desk

Thoughts on editing for print and digital media

Tag: grammar

Listen to your grammar

Some people make decisions about grammar based on how a sentence sounds. If you are one of those people, this new feature at The Wichita Eagle is for you.

Each Monday, Grammar Monkeys will offer grammar tips in a podcast. The first post is about “lay” versus “lie.” Give it a listen.

When to pack and unpack your adjectives

The wise FEV offers solid advice about those pesky adjectives in this well-written post on Headsup: The Blog.

That insightful post reminded little old me of this adjective-themed episode of the nostalgia-inducing “Schoolhouse Rock.” Here’s my favorite part:

We hiked along without care.

Then we ran into a bear.

He was a hairy bear.

He was a scary bear.

We beat a hasty retreat from his lair.

And described him with adjectives.

Enjoy the 1970s-era video. If you are afraid the catchy song will get stuck in your already clogged brain, just read the clever words.

Which one and that one

Fellow editing blogger Craig Lancaster at Watch Yer Language recently took note of a column by James Kilpatrick. The topic of the column was “that” versus “which.” The didactic Kilpatrick expresses his disdain for “which.”

I liked Craig’s measured response to Kilpatrick, in which he diagnosed a blend of tact and grammar in working with writers who struggle with this problem. I also like this advice on “which” from After Deadline, a blog by a deputy news editor at The New York Times.

Kilpatrick is wrong to throw out “which” altogether. After all, it’s not that complicated to determine which is correct.

Places to go for grammar

This blog is about editing, which includes grammar. But it’s not a grammar blog.

Some readers find their way here looking for grammar tips. They will find some here and there, but such posts are infrequent.

If you are here for grammar and only grammar, allow me to point you in some helpful directions. The New York Times has an excellent topics page about grammar. Grammarphobia, led by “Woe Is I” author Patricia O’Conner, is also a great resource.

If you are looking for grammar exercises, here are some sites to visit:

  • Triangle Grammar Guide by copy editor Pam Nelson includes fun, five-question grammar quizzes. Here’s the full collection of those.
  • Newsroom 101 has exercises on topics such as subject-verb agreement and dangling modifiers.
  • The American Copy Editors Society site has a few grammar quizzes in this trove of tests.
  • NewsU offers “Cleaning Your Copy,” a course by copy editor Vicki Krueger. This one is the “Dark Side of the Moon” of NewsU — it has been on the “Hot Courses” list for as long as I can remember.

All of these sites are free. Enjoy!


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