Improve your writing and grammar with an online course
While you’re working from home, why not brush up on your writing and grammar skills?
All my courses are straightforward and easy to use. Yes, some of the grammar topics are complex, but I explain concepts simply and clearly and the courses are chunked into small manageable sections. You can dip in and out and do topics of your choice when you have the time. And most courses have e-books you can download and keep for future reference.
The learning tools include videos, podcasts, e-books, information sheets, activity sheets and quizzes.
Grammar, Punctuation and Usage
The Grammar, Punctuation and Usage course covers grammar and punctuation principles and looks at common mistakes many writers make. This is my favourite course because I believe an understanding of how language works makes you a more considerate writer. Readers can enjoy your content without being distracted by glitches.
Maybe you’ve never been sure about when to use an apostrophe? Now’s the time to learn.
The Business Writing course is based on my years of experience teaching business writing. It covers writing skills from planning to proofreading. You’ll learn more about the craft of writing sentences and how to distinguish between confusing words (affect vs effect, advice vs advise, discreet vs discrete).
Writing and Grammar Bundle
If you want to improve both your writing and grammar, you’ll save 30% when you buy the Writing and Grammar Bundle. This bundle includes both of the above courses.
My other online courses are:
- Grammar Basics (for non-native English speakers)
- Write to Govern: How to write effective board papers
- An A to Z of Punctuation (an extract from Grammar, Punctuation and Usage)
- Grammar Essentials (an extract from Grammar, Punctuation and Usage)
- 100 Commonly Confused Words (an extract from Business Writing)
How to avoid procrastination
With so many people working from home, I thought it was timely to write about procrastination. How are you coping with a different work regime? Maybe with fewer meetings to attend, you have more time for writing?
My blog starts: I read a lot of poorly written business documents that make me wonder about people’s time-management skills.
I wonder if they put off writing because they think they can’t write well. (Quite a few business writers tell me they don’t like writing.) Maybe they are pushed for time with endless meetings to attend. Or maybe their documents ping-pong around the office with people making both helpful and unhelpful changes and comments.
Even if you have disciplined work habits, some writing projects are difficult and it’s tempting to procrastinate. I have first-hand experience of this – I have written a young-adult manuscript and am trying to motivate myself to go through it one last time before sending it to an agent. I am procrastinating like a pro. What is stopping me? Fear?
I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Punctuation with greetings and sign-offs
Q: What punctuation should you use in email greetings and sign-offs?
A: This is a style choice. My preference is no punctuation, but I notice that many people use commas.
Email me your preference.
Punctuation with lists
Q: What is the correct modern punctuation for lists?
A: With lists that are full sentences, the usual rules of punctuation apply. However, when each point relates back to an initial stem statement, there are several styles in current usage.
I have given up worrying about what style writers use, but I like consistency with the:
- Beginning and end punctuation of points
- Type of bullet point and whether it is indented or flush
Having said that, let’s look at the recent history of bullet point punctuation.
- Once upon a time, each point started with a lowercase letter, and each point, apart from the last one, ended with a semicolon. The second-to-last point had ‘and’ after the semicolon and the last point ended with a full stop. Some writers still use this style, but it is regarded as old-fashioned in business writing.
- In the next style to evolve, each point started with lowercase and the only end punctuation was a full stop after the final point. This style is still widely used.
- Then many writers started to capitalise each point. (I think this is because capitalisation is the Microsoft default.) Initially, I saw writers ending such lists with a full stop, but many now drop the final full stop so there is no end punctuation.
Whatever style you choose, each point must be grammatically congruent with the stem statement at the beginning of the list. In other words, you can read each point with the stem statement.
If you want to see examples of each style, read my blog on lists.
Free stuff about writing
Lena Dunham’s daily story
If you are a fan of Lena Dunham (Not That Kind of Girl), visit the Vogue website where she is writing a novel in daily instalments.
Murder She Wrote
If you enjoy crime novels, you can now listen to a replay of the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival.
Murder on High
Author Cheryl Hingley is posting instalments of her 18th century crime novel, Murder on High, on her website. Cheryl has written several historical novels and her work has been longlisted for awards by the Historical Novel Society and the American Library in Paris.
Interesting articles about writing
Do we capitalise disease names?
It’s like dog names; some we capitalise and others we don’t. Read why.
The pandemic imagination
Mann and Camus both wrote about plagues to make statements about society. Read more.
Babies understand grammar basics before they can talk
Babies can distinguish between function and content words. Read more.
Top 10 writing and grammar mistakes that even published authors make
Find out what mistakes even published authors make. Do they surprise you?
Why emojis and hashtags should be part of language learning
Do you agree? Read more.
Why do corporations speak the way they do?
An entertaining read about corporate speak.
Words of our times
- social distancing
- hunkering down
- raring to go (Trump)
- stay safe
Do you have any words to add to the list?
Quote of the month
‘You may delay, but time will not.’