the most useful grammar post ever

Posted on January 20th, 2011

I thought you might find this useful. A list of grammar tricks I found on Dumb Little Men…They’ve compiled a bunch of tips and exercises from an online writing lab.


I know so many from my generation simply didn’t learn grammar. I personally learned it when I studied French from a library text book while working in a pub in London when I was 18. Then, a few years later I did a journalism cadetship at the Herald Sun in Melbourne. I got obsessed by misplaced modifiers. Mostly I’ve just practiced and checked and got things wrong and been horrified when I’ve seen it in print and learned the hard way.

I’ve also developed pet hates. Like misplaced modifiers. And your’s. Or when your not concentrating and you are found out.

What get’s on you’re goat?
Adjectives and adverbs




Sentence structure


Apostrophes and Quotation Marks



Other punctuation

Sentence Punctuation

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Chris

    From my occasionally confused self, a big thank you xo


  • Nat Kringoudis

    From an ALWAYS confused self. Thank you!
    When your brain works faster than you can talk or write… that is a big problem. Any tips on that? Oh yes, probably Sloooow dooooown. Got it.


  • Ben

    HAHAHA – “What get’s on you’re goat?”


  • Josephine

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
    My lack of understanding of the grammatical is surpassed only by my inability to spell!


  • Ian

    Thanks Sarah…very useful…


  • Pingback: Tweets that mention the most useful grammar post ever | Sarah Wilson --

  • cosmic

    “Or when your not concentrating…” ha!!
    Nice list of links. I tip my English degree hat.


  • Denyse Gibbs

    Wow this is great Sarah. I am a teacher and I will be recommending it to my kids. Sure beats the old hard copy text book and no matter what anyone says Grammar is still important.

    I love your columns and the website is great. Thanks for helping make life sweeter!


  • Reemski

    Thank you for this. Having the feeling that we both attended Canberra public schools in the early 80’s where teaching grammar was not on the curriculum I am deeply grateful for this ready reckoner. This one is being bookmarked in delicious.



    Sarah Reply:

    Ha…what schools? I was Sutton Primary, Lyneham High, Dickson College…none of which were renowned for their academic excellence!


  • Maxabella

    Oh this is so darn USEFUL! Thank you.

    I hate the whole your /you’re, there /their thing. Drives me a bit mental.

    Any misplaced apostrophe. Drives me a bit mental.

    Don’t get me started on the whole ‘he / she / they’ business that we go on with these days.

    Thanks for the links!! I’m kinda new to your site. I’ve lurked here and there. The whole ‘celebrity’ bit makes me mildly uncomfortable (same as over at Mia’s). I find myself getting too eager to please and then I am beyond embarrassed at myself. So I’ve been quiet. x


  • Shanina

    It’s like you were watching my inbox. I sent this email out yesterday
    “The Learning Bean has launched it’s new Learning Centre online!”

    And got this reply from an esteemed ex-boss.
    “Just one thing – “it’s” is ONLY ever an abbreviation of “it is” – so there should not be an apostrophe in the example below.”

    I’m normally the grammar nazi correcting other people’s emails, so you can imagine how annoyed I was that I let an error slip through AND that the person I most wanted to impress picked up on it. Bugger…


  • Triz

    Great post! The meaning of Affect and Effect always trips me up so I love the RAVEN tip…Remember Affect is a Verb, Effect is a noun (in the Spelling section)


  • amber

    I missed out on grammar at school (except when studying German) but my mother is an English teacher, and my father a pedant for language. I had a lot of things drilled into me as a kid. I studied Linguistics as my undergrad degree and am now completing my Master’s in Writing, Editing and Publishing.

    One thing I thought I should mention was that “practise” is the verb and “practice” is the noun. In one of your sentences, you’ve used “practiced” as the verb, but it should be an “s” in there! Aw, I hope that wasn’t mean of me. :(

    I think it’s easy for hardcore proofreaders and editors to become snobbish about people’s language usage. However, I had an excellent tutor a couple of years ago who showed my class two examples of writing. One was a response from local council to a query that was perfectly written and punctuated but said nothing; the other was an advertisement for a chicken coop (spelt coupe in the ad) that was rife with error but totally achieved its communicative purpose. You can be an excellent communicator without knowing where to dot your Is or cross your Ts.

    That being said, I find it wonderful that writers are wanting to learn more about the mechanics of efective writing. The primary purpose of punctuation and spelling is clarity. They are the signposts that tell your reader exactly what you mean.

    Some things that really bother me are:

    1. Confusing its and it’s
    2. Using “less” instead of “fewer” (anything you can count should be described as “fewer” — less rice, fewer grains of rice”
    3. Comma splices — where whole sentences are separated by a comma instead of a full stop.

    Purdue’s OWL has been a favourite checking point since my undergrad days. In Australia, the Aus Government Style Guide is the go-to style manual, but there are some fun ones out there too, like Arthur Plotnik’s Spunk and Bite. Highly recommended!


    Hanna Reply:

    You can remember because ‘practice’ contains the word ice, and ice is a thing…practice is the noun

    Pedantic English teacher :-)


  • amber

    Oh the perils of writing quickly and hitting “submit”! I’ve got two typos in there. Shame on me.
    I suppose I should mention that the biggest lesson I have learnt so far in my studies is that writing never, ever comes out perfectly the first time. Thats what editing is for.


  • (down-to) earth mother

    I hate seeing “practiced” spelled incorrectly :)
    Remember everyone, in Australian English, if it’s a noun, it has a c, if it’s a verb, use at s. Same goes for advice and licence.
    Sarah, I feel your pain with the misplaced modifier. Sometimes the resulting sentence is hilarious, but only grammar geeks get the joke…


  • Amy

    Even worse than the you’re/your mistake is the purposeful netspeak use of ‘ur’. I despise the “but it’s quicker to type!” excuse. Why is everyone in such a hurry to look stupid?


    Mia Reply:

    EXACTLY! I am so glad I am not the only one!


  • Nicky

    Ooooo I cannot stand apostrophes used on plurals. makes my skin crawl!


  • Mia

    I get irrationally angry when I see apostrophes used incorrectly, or not used when they should be! ARGH!

    Which I admit is hypocritical for somebody like myself, whose liberal use of exclamation points and the F word should land her in some kind of literary detention. I also frequently make up words. Or make up new meanings for existing words.

    I think this is LESS of a crime than bad grammar/ punctuation though!! I saw a shirt once that I loved that said “Bad grammar makes me {sic}” :)


    amber Reply:

    I own that shirt. 😐

    And also one that says: “Your a looser”.

    I only wear them to bed!


  • alf

    Great post here! thanks Sarah


  • Dan Hutton

    Your the bestest!


  • Robyn

    Thanks Sarah, as always, enjoyed this post. Now if we could just get people to stop using apostrophe’s in plural’s….aaaaaggghhh this drives me nuts. And for the record everyone it’s means it is.


  • Pingback: Friday Love | Sass & Pepper()

  • Nikki Love

    Along with many others, I also get frustrated with people who don’t know which there/their/they’re to use, or its/it’s, or your/you’re.
    Another pet annoyance, although not strictly grammatical, is the misuse of the word ambivalent. So many people use it to mean indifference when it actually means two opposing thoughts/feelings at the same time. Stop using big words if you don’t know what they mean!

    I also h8 ppl who uz txt spk all da time.


  • Pingback: Body Loving Blogosphere 01.23.10 | medicinal marzipan()

  • Donna

    Thanks so much for the post. Very educational!
    Donna @



    Sarah Reply:

    Thanks Donna!


  • Pingback: Round ‘Em Up! | Serendipity Cupcake()

  • Sarah

    glad you all like it!


  • Pingback: Links — ♥()

  • Pingback: Angelamaphone » Bookmarks: February 8th – February 13th()

  • Pingback: Some Links To Entertain « pennycandycursewords()

  • Mags

    Am trying to catch up as much as I can with your blog having only just found it, so excuse my extremely late foray into adding my 2 cents’ worth here!

    I’ll see all of the above comments, and raise you: “should of, would of, could of”. Please don’t let this become the norm! I witnessed this in uni from third year students about to become teachers!

    Having been taught grammar at school, I cannot believe the lack of its use today, but can understand if it wasn’t taught in school, then it would be difficult. But whose idea was it to not teach grammar????

    /Off ranting high horse


  • Pingback: Fashion FAIL – Illiteracy is Trendy |

  • dentist carlisle

    Link exchange is nothing else however it is only placing the other person’s website link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do similar in support of you.


  • Bec Carter

    Hi there,
    Anyone else having trouble accessing these links?



  • Lm

    Are there any current links to the exercises? All of the above are broken.