I went through school without studying English grammar. In the ’80s and ’90s, Victorian schools were using whole word learning, so we used grammar but we were never taught how to use it. As a result, I repeatedly submitted assignments with Executive Summeries in the first year at university. Yes, I was also stubbornly convinced I knew best. Bad combination.
A couple of years ago I discovered Grammar Girl while looking for new podcasts, and subsequently Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Mignon Fogarty, the Grammar Girl and author, breaks down tricky rules and researches them to explain it clearly.
What is Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing?
I primarily call this a reference book. It’s the size, print and length of a typical business book, but laid out more as a dictionary. It’s broken into chapters on topics such as punctuation, writing styles, and how to start a sentence, with reference topics within. Common word misuses are included with the grammar tips, so you can learn the difference between nauseous and nauseated. British English is also covered, so if you’re confused by periods inside quotation marks, you can get an explanation.
Mignon has two helpers to explain the points. Aardvark and Squiggly are the subjects to demonstrate subject/verb agreement and other grammar points. I love that the book also has illustrations of the characters. It’s cute and personable while being informative.
Who is Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing for?
I hate being this broad, but anyone who cares about their writing. That includes all the readers of this blog. Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing should be on your bookcase or smartphone alongside your preferred dictionary and style guide. While similar to a style guide, the book isn’t prescriptive, giving clarity to rules. It also covers more general topics than style guides generally do.
Do you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast? Or do you have any favorite writing aids? Please share in the comments.