The rules of grammar, punctuation, and style are often the things by which readers will judge your work. You may have original and insightful things to say, but your meaning will be lost if your sentences are riddled with errors, awkward phrasing, misplaced punctuation, and incorrectly used words. Employers routinely identify strong written communication skills as one of the most important attributes of a potential hire.
What You Get in This Course
Why This Course?
Based on nearly 15 years experience in teaching writing at both the high school and college level, I have designed this course to cover the "must know" elements of grammar and punctuation. Too often, English teachers teach too much unnecessary information technical terminology that do not result in better writing. In this course, I only present rules that will actually improve your writing today.
Having taught students at all levels, I understand the pitfalls and points of confusion that give people trouble. The examples and explanations in this course have proven the most effective in helping students understand the material and master the necessary skills.
This first lesson introduces the eight parts of speech. This and the next lesson, unlike the other lessons of the course, do not present rules or show how to fix common errors. Instead, we identify and name different parts of a sentence to provide a basic vocabulary for discussing the rules of grammar and punctuation.
Subjects and verbs form the core of a sentence. In fact, it's impossible to make sense of any grammar rule without the ability to identify the subject and verb in a sentence. This lesson provides a primer on the function of these important elements in a sentence. Like the first lecture, this one is not about fixing mistakes. It lays the groundwork for understanding the rules covered in the rest of the course.
Sentence fragments are one of the most common errors in writing. They are also fairly easy to identify and fix, as demonstrated in this lecture.
Like the lesson on fragments, this lecture also deals with understanding sentence boundaries, or knowing where one sentence begins and another ends. However, run-on sentences are different in that they form when two or more independent sentences run together without correct punctuation or conjunctions.
Yes, there is room for stylistic choice when choosing to use a comma; however, there are reliable rules and sensible flexibility regarding those rules. This lecture removes some of the mystery surrounding comma use.
This often overlooked punctuation mark shows up in quite a few errors, from student papers to professional advertisements. This short lecture will clarify the common points of confusion.
In this lecture I group punctuation marks that didn't quite deserve their own lesson. This video is action packed and to-the-point.
This lecture not only shows how and when to use quotation marks, but strays from strictly grammatical concerns to discuss how to integrate (and how not to integrate) quotations in a sentence.
Maintaining parallelism in a sentence, especially in sentences that contain lists, is important in making your sentences just "sound right." Once you learn to identify the problem in this video, the fix is easy and intuitive.
The action of a sentence happens in a certain time frame, referred to as "tense" (past, present, future, etc.). Problems arise when we unnecessarily shift that time from past to present or from present to past. This lecture will help you avoid this mistake, especially as it occurs in writing stories.
Pronouns are words that stand in place of nouns. For example, if I have already mentioned a girl named Sarah, in the next sentence I might refer to her as "she." A surprising number of issues arise in the use of pronouns, from problems of agreement in number to questions of sensitivity and inclusiveness. This lecture provides the "must know" material on pronouns.
We say, "The dogs bark" not "The dogs barks". That is subject-verb agreement. Things can get a little messier, however, in more complex sentences. This lecture keeps everyone in agreement.
When it comes to improving clarity and style, reducing unnecessary words and clutter in a sentence is one of the simplest and most effective techniques. Applying the principles of this lecture will improve your writing immediately.
Some sentences aren't necessarily grammatically incorrect, but they just don't sound right. This lecture will help you break apart awkward sentences and reconstruct them in ways that are pleasant to read and easy to understand.
The verb is the engine of the sentence. This lecture will help you get the most out of your verbs, letting them do the heavy lifting in your sentences.
Variety is the spice of life as well as an important characteristic of good style. This lecture will help you vary sentence structure, length, and rhythm.
"Do you capitalize ____?" We've all asked this question hundreds of times. This lecture will make you the one answering these questions rather than asking them.
"Is it they're, their, or there?" You're/your going to get the answers hear/here. This lecture helps end the confusion regarding homophones--words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings.
Spelling has little to do with being a good writer. It's possible to be a brilliant writer but a terrible speller. However, spelling errors often give your reader a negative first impression of your work. This lecture discusses some of the most common rules and pitfalls.
S.J. Lawrence has a PhD in the teaching of English and has over 12 years experience as a writing instructor at both the high school and college level. He is the author of the popular grammar workbook "Just the Basics of English Grammar" (included in the Grammar Boot Camp course) and has published extensively in scholarly and creative writing journals. His short fiction has been featured in a dramatized reading on public radio.
Most recently, he was the principle curriculum designer of a university sponsored online basic writing course that has been taken by more than 10,000 students around the world.