Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

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GreenEngineer
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Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby GreenEngineer » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:11 am UTC

I feel myself getting worst at spelling and grammar.

I know an obvious remedy is reading lots of books. However, I just don't have the patience nor the time to commit to read a lengthy novel (reading at 30 pages an hour doesn't help). Does anyone have any tips on improving these two things with minimal commitment?

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Bobber » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:03 am UTC

GreenEngineer wrote:I feel myself getting worst at spelling and grammar.

I know an obvious remedy is reading lots of books. However, I just don't have the patience nor the time to commit to read a lengthy novel (reading at 30 pages an hour doesn't help). Does anyone have any tips on improving these two things with minimal commitment?

GE


I'm pretty sure that you can find online literacy practices, but I doubt that they will really help much.
Maybe you should just accept that you have a special way of expressing yourself, although that might be a little like accepting that you are the "special" kid at school.

Otherwise, you might want to try to type slower, and think more about every word.
I'm not sure whether you mean only textual communication or also verbal, but typing slower might help.
I sometimes struggle for up to a minute or so until finding what I think is the best way to express a sentence, but that mostly applies when it actually matters whether or not my wording is completely unambigous(monogous? eh?) and eliquent.

Obviously, as you state yourself, reading books would help a lot.
I think it's easier to practice on your reading speed, then reading loads of awesome books, than it is to practice specifically to spell better and use more proper grammar.

Also, at spelling, do you mean that you are hitting the wrong keys accidentaly, or that you just do not know how to spell the word?
Also think about the chance that you might have some very slight dyslexia - that is nothing to be embarrassed about.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Interactive Civilian » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:24 am UTC

Write.

Seriously. Write a lot. Write short stories. Keep a journal. Whatever.

After you finish a piece, leave it be for about 5 times the time it took to write (1 day to write = 5 day wait, etc), and then go back and look at it. When you look at it, it will almost be like looking at someone else's writing, and you will be able to spot and correct your mistakes. Correct them.

It will probably be a slow process, but over time you will improve.

Another option is to move overseas and teach ESL. It's amazing how much you learn and how much your grammar improves when you are forced to break the language down and teach it to others.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Justinlrb » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:05 am UTC

I'm with the other guys on this. Write a lot. Take your time. In my opinion, the most important thing is to care. Caring and reviewing what you've written go hand in hand. (Right now, go back and look at something you wrote here or elsewhere. You might be surprised at how easy it is to pick out simple mistakes.)

Some books that I've found helpful - that I still refer to:
Strunk and White The Element's of Style
Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones

Strunk and White is good because you can use it as a reference, or you can just read it for ideas. It's only about 90 pages long.
Goldberg's book is motivational and helped me break out of a serious fear of writing.

Five pieces of advice:
-always hit preview before hitting submit.
-read it out loud.
-when using a spell checker try to correct the mistakes yourself first. If you need to use the suggestions, that's ok but type it yourself.
-dictionary.com
-And, pay no mind to those who chide you for making mistakes. They only do it to feel better about themselves. Miserable snots.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby tendays » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:22 am UTC

What they said, plus:

Take a (mental) note of the mistakes you do, and whenever you notice there's one particular kind of mistake you keep doing, take the time to find out what is the rule, and then learn it.

For instance I used to keep getting the accents wrong in French (is it é, è, ê, ...?) - I wrote them more or less randomly because I didn't know how they worked. So one day I took the time to look up a rule, and to learn it. First I had to think about it consciously but eventually it became instinctive.

Having someone read what you write and tell you your most common mistakes helps, too.

EDIT: By the way:
GreenEngineer wrote:I feel myself getting worst at spelling and grammar.


It's "worse". "Worst" would mean you're worse than everyone else ;-)
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby 4=5 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:05 pm UTC

Either that or you're a type of sausage.
Try typing in something with a spellcheck, or using a cell phone to text people, it has an automatic word suggestion feature so you learn to spell correctly to be efficient.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Bobber » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:14 pm UTC

4=5 wrote:Either that or you're a type of sausage.


So it goes: Sausage :arrow: Wurst :arrow: Worst? :D

Using a cellphone to text is a brilliant idea: if you press the wrong buttons, it will come out as nonsense, or really obscure words.
If you type my nick into a cell phone with T9 (Danish version at least), it comes out "Ambaep". Why the fuck does my phone need to know how to spell that?
I have another even weirder example: Try typing in Xander. It comes out "Yaneds". That is just icky.
[/rant]

So yea, try using a cell phone.
But, of course, that doesn't exactly get you faster at keyboard typing, but it might make you more efficient.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby GreenEngineer » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:01 pm UTC

Wow, thanks for the great tips. I liked the one about keeping a journal. I had also considered going to teach ESL overseas, though originally I had other intentions in mind, but now it's a win win!

tendays wrote:It's "worse". "Worst" would mean you're worse than everyone else

LOL I knew there was something wrong with what I wrote, worst and worse... I never knew.

Bobber wrote:Using a cellphone to text is a brilliant idea

I also noticed that when you use the T something system, it really forces you to spell what you trying to spell rather then fake it. I have found myself making memos on my cellphone more often now.

Justinlrb wrote:And, pay no mind to those who chide you for making mistakes. They only do it to feel better about themselves. Miserable snots.

It's hard to ignore them, also it is embarrassing when you are writing on the black board, ie. leading a discussion and you spell something wrong.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Little Richie » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:19 pm UTC

From my other posts it is obvious that I am HORRABLE at spelling and grammer. I Will be getting verry famillier in this section, as a request by my past English teacher...

Thanks for the help already, I hope I will start making less of a fool of myself. As I have been told, you are smart, just dont write anything down. I see this is the same for many of us.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Fat Tony » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:10 pm UTC

I don't read. I've been able to since I was three (I learned so early because I wanted to be able to read the text in Quest for Glory [Who says video games aren't good for our education?]), but I just don't. I wish I liked reading, because I know a lot of books have great stories that interest me, but I just don't. It's anti-social, and if I'm doing something anti-social, I'd rather be listening to music.
Even though I don't read, grammar and spelling have always just come naturally to me. One annoying thing about reading is that a lot of writers, especially the ones whose works we're forced to read in school, use incorrect grammar, but of course, the English teachers have to insist that they made those mistakes because they're genii.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Interactive Civilian » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:12 am UTC

GreenEngineer wrote:It's hard to ignore them, also it is embarrassing when you are writing on the black board, ie. leading a discussion and you spell something wrong.

If there is ONE thing you don't have to worry about while teaching, it is spelling mistakes on the blackboard. Don't be embarrassed if and when your students correct you, and don't be afraid to ask them how to spell a word if you don't know. Also, I often play it off as kind of a joke, usually some comment about how I SPEAK English, and use my computer's spellcheck for everything else, or how I long for a white-board with built-in spell check. Showing them that even you as a teacher make mistakes with spelling seems to make them feel better about their own difficulties with spelling, at least in my experience.

So, don't worry about that.

Grammar, of course, is something you have to be careful of, unless you are not teaching an English class. ;)
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby tendays » Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:26 pm UTC

Little Richie wrote:/* I am an aspireing coder not a writer =D /*

You didn't close your comment properly :-p
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Little Richie » Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:59 pm UTC

tendays wrote:
Little Richie wrote:/* I am an aspireing coder not a writer =D /*

You didn't close your comment properly :-p


in java i did % but now i'm in matlab =D
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Ari » Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:14 am UTC

GreenEngineer wrote:I feel myself getting worst at spelling and grammar.

I know an obvious remedy is reading lots of books. However, I just don't have the patience nor the time to commit to read a lengthy novel (reading at 30 pages an hour doesn't help). Does anyone have any tips on improving these two things with minimal commitment?

GE


In-line spellcheckers- Firefox can run one easily. Whenever you get the red lines of doom, delete and attempt to correct without looking up the spelling. Then if you fail, look, and delete and type out the word a couple of times. It'll help you be conscious of it next time it comes up. Spelling mistakes are a fact of life, but nuking them as you go along will make you a faster and more presentable typer in the long run. :)

As for grammar, there is really no minimal-commitment way to make sure you've got your sense, punctuation, and flow acceptable. You need the functional knowledge and for that you'll need someone who can make you aware of grammar- whether through a book or having a language nerd to coach you or whatever.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby tendays » Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:37 pm UTC

Ari wrote:In-line spellcheckers


That can be a trap, though - because whenever you're not sure of a word you may tend to just type randomly, and only if you get it wrong, start thinking which should be the right spelling, rather than trying to write it correctly on the first attempt. Another example: I used to never remember if there's one 'n' or two in "dictionary". Because there are no possibilities I tended to just pick one randomly, and if I happened to type "dictionnary" I'd see it's wrong (because the in-line spellchecker says so), I'd fix it to the other one. But that doesn't help me learning at all!
So as I said in a previous post, one day I sat down and checked all spellings (double 'n' for "dictionnaire" in French, and single 'n' for "dictionary" in English and "dicionário" in Portuguese).

(Of course, the fact that I use kde, whose spell checker is broken beyond recognition, helps me to pay attention to what I'm writing :) )
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby GreenEngineer » Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:04 pm UTC

tendays wrote:That can be a trap, though - because whenever you're not sure of a word you may tend to just type randomly,


That's so true tendays, I find that I will just type randomly what I think it is in hopes that the checker will catch the mistake. Though I think we do that because we like to save time.

Side note: if the spell checker is so broken in KDE why don't you join up the team and fix it :D

I've been keeping the tips mentioned on this thread in mind. I think my spelling is gradually improving. I think the tip that works the best so far is reading over what I wrote, and taking the time to spell things carefully myself before relying on the spell checker.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Silas » Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:44 pm UTC

Moderator Note: you can ignore this entire post. It's not actually intended to help anyone with grammar or spelling. I should probably just delete it for being off topic, but meh.

Edit: I disagree, but as you wish. It seems I get the wurst when it comes to forum rules.
Last edited by Silas on Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:45 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby 4=5 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:20 am UTC

the first part is amusing but the second part is a little too subtle
sarcasm isn't funny if it has the chance to hurt people

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Clumpy » Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:52 am UTC

Write simply, with short, comprehensible sentences. That's the golden advice, but I find it hard to follow.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby 4=5 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:36 am UTC

I have even better advice.
Write well.

Use your intuition.
If upon re-reading you find it needs fewer words, take some away. If it needs more words add them. Do whatever you sense your writeing requires.
You have millions of successful examples buried in your mind,
let your mind use them.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Clumpy » Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:26 pm UTC

You might not know it from my ungrammatical posts on this forum, but when I'm writing copy for a class or, rarely, for a newspaper, I agonize over every word. I'd never let sentences like that last one fly. Even when I'm writing prose, I edit it like it's poetry. Countless minutes spent staring at one word are hardly productive but my OCD won't have it any other way.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby 4=5 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:53 am UTC

Wow, I'm sorry for you. Are you taking any medication for it?

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Clumpy » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:59 am UTC

It's a mild OCD, primarily manifesting through obnoxious attention to detail, sidewalk crack counting and checking my front door at 3 in the morning to make sure that it's locked. I'm not even sure that it's a literal OCD, but I certainly have a dozen or so such OCD-like tendencies. It's not really an issue :) .

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Ari » Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:34 am UTC

You could just be normally obsessive, you know. It's not always pathological :)

Or you could just be a grammar nazi with difficulty writing. :D

tendays wrote:
Ari wrote:In-line spellcheckers


That can be a trap, though - because whenever you're not sure of a word you may tend to just type randomly, and only if you get it wrong, start thinking which should be the right spelling, rather than trying to write it correctly on the first attempt. Another example: I used to never remember if there's one 'n' or two in "dictionary". Because there are no possibilities I tended to just pick one randomly, and if I happened to type "dictionnary" I'd see it's wrong (because the in-line spellchecker says so), I'd fix it to the other one. But that doesn't help me learning at all!
So as I said in a previous post, one day I sat down and checked all spellings (double 'n' for "dictionnaire" in French, and single 'n' for "dictionary" in English and "dicionário" in Portuguese).

(Of course, the fact that I use kde, whose spell checker is broken beyond recognition, helps me to pay attention to what I'm writing :) )


I type too fast for the in-line checker most of the time, so my first attempt usually gets through before I really notice the squiggly lines.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Clumpy » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:19 am UTC

I've had to train myself not to obsess over every little thing, which probably proves that it's not OCD at least.

I used to honestly feel a need to apologize to little stuffed animals that I stepped on in the highway. Psh!

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby koneko » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:31 am UTC

Grammar is not easy, but it is possible to learn. Try reading your sentences aloud to listen for stops and pauses that indicate the presence of punctuation. Learn the rules of grammar one at a time... for example, if you know you have a tendency to write run-on sentences, work on correcting that habit before you move on to more complex rules. If you bite off more than you can chew it's very easy to give up or feel overwhelmed. As long as you're doing your best, though, you should be happy with whatever you write.

sorry its 3am and i'm getting all slitty eyed, ignore the motivational crap plz
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Felstaff » Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:51 pm UTC

GreenEngineer wrote: (reading at 30 pages an hour doesn't help)


Thank God, there's another person who has the exact same reading speed as me. Have you ever tried reading a book with someone who reads 'fast' and somehow goes to turn over the page before you've even finished the first? It's the bane of my life (although I'm not saying dual/duel-reading is a regular activity of mine). I read so slowly and deliberately, it takes me over a month to finish a novel, of any size. And I still miss stuff, and occasionally realise 'hey, I've just read 8 pages and not taken in a single word here,' before having to go back to the last page I paid attention.

As everyone's giving tidbits of advice, here's a nugget for anyone who gets "form" and "from" mixed up when they type too fast. It doesn't come up with the red squiggly line of discomfort, and can easily be missed, so is a perrenial problem. Just set the AutoCorrect options (in Microsquish Word, at least) to change both to another word entirely (like "fram" or "qwijybo") That way, when you've finished, you can easily go through (with the spell-checker or Ctrl+F) and ensure each mention of "from" or "form" is correct. There's other combinations out there you can do this to, such as "they're", "their" and "there", "to" "two" and "too". I once changed all the AutoCorrect options on every PC in my office, so "Dear" changed to "Oi, Fatty-Fat-Fatso!" The secretaries were not impressed, especially as they had 100 letters to write that day.

As for the mobile (cell) phone predictive text dilemma, try typing in 'lick my pussy' or 'smirnoff' without altering what the 'phone comes up with.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Peregrin » Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:57 am UTC

The root of your problem is that no matter how you do it, improvement will take time. I would still recommend taking the reading route, as at the very least the activity is enjoyable. You can indirectly improve your sentence structure while becoming increasingly well-read.
Also, if you're worried about typos and the like, think of it this way: If it's worth saying, it's worth taking the time to say correctly. Just slow down and maybe reread the post before submitting it.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Meowsma » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:31 am UTC

Grammar books are easy, quick reads.

If ever I have a question about something and find myself in a bookstore, I usually pick up two or three books to see what they say on the issue. Often times I'll get engrossed by the book and continue reading. I am, however, very excited to read about grammar.

Even if you aren't, though, most of them aren't structured in a novel-like fashion. Lots of whitespace and examples break up the read nicely.

Woe is I, by Patricia T. O'Connor was what got me on the road to serious grammar study, and it didn't take me but a few hours to read. It's an excellent book.

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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby Felstaff » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:11 pm UTC

Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynn Truss. The grammatical pedant,s bible.
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Re: Ways to improve your grammar and spelling?

Postby GreenEngineer » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:10 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:Thank God, there's another person who has the exact same reading speed as me. Have you ever tried reading a book with someone who reads 'fast' and somehow goes to turn over the page before you've even finished the first? It's the bane of my life (although I'm not saying dual/duel-reading is a regular activity of mine). I read so slowly and deliberately, it takes me over a month to finish a novel, of any size. And I still miss stuff, and occasionally realise 'hey, I've just read 8 pages and not taken in a single word here,' before having to go back to the last page I paid attention.



Haha, my girlfriend reads two times faster then me, and constantly complains about my reading speed when we share reading medium. Though I may read slower, I can retell a story better.

Felstaff wrote:Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynn Truss. The grammatical pedant,s bible.

I'll see if I can find an e-book for that.


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