March 4th is National Grammar Day! While this may not be up there with Thanksgiving or Halloween, it is certainly a day of the year you should pay attention to. If you do nothing else – thank your editor today!
What is National Grammar Day?
National Grammar Day began in 2008 and was started by the author of Things That Make Us (Sic) by Martha Brockenbrough, the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG). Her book is a laugh-out-loud guide to common language problems around the world, as well as Madison Avenue, the White House, and Hollywood, and provides tips that can help all types of writers improve their English. It’s an entertaining spin on learning proper grammar!
The National Grammar Day website says: “Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4th is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, but also an imperative: March forth on March 4th to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”
How Can You Celebrate National Grammar Day?
There are plenty of ways you can celebrate this unusual holiday! You could:
- Write your own fiction or nonfiction piece. Practice makes perfect!
- Read over a coworkers’ writing to see if you can spot grammatical errors.
- Thank your editor.
- Listen to Word Crimes, by Weird Al Yankovic, on YouTube.
- Take online quizzes or lessons for grammar.
Common Grammatical Errors
The song Word Crimes, by Weird Al, hilariously covers several grammatical errors, so if you haven’t heard it, don’t delay!
Some mistakes writers make in their pieces include:
- Incorrect use of homonyms. Example: They’re/their/there, your/you’re, write/right
- Incorrect use of contractions
- Use of commas. Some writers add too many commas, forget a few, or use comma splices.
- Incomplete sentences
- Run-on sentences
- Too many adverbs
- Too many words. Writers who are struggling with a required word count are sometimes guilty of this!
- Inconsistent use of first-, second-, or third-person voice
- Incorrect use of who/whom and whose/who’s
- Misspelling apart vs a part
- Misusing semicolons
- Incorrectly capitalizing titles
Resources to Help You Improve Your Grammar
Some of the suggestions and notes above will help you improve your grammar, but if you really want to take your writing to the next level, we recommend checking out these resources:
Grammarly is an extension you can add to your browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Google Chrome, that will help you catch any misspellings, grammatical mistakes, or poor wording in your emails, documents, and notes. The extension marks the errors made, explains why it’s wrong, and makes corrections with just a click of the button. Grammarly also ensures it reads well for your audience.
This resource is completely free! With a premium membership you can rewrite sentences, cite works, rewrite for better tone, and improve your word choice. You can also take advantage of style guides, brand tones, and analytics dashboards.
Google Docs brings several different resources to the table with collaboration tools, spelling and grammar check, and more. You can easily run your document through Google Docs to quickly check and correct any errors you may have made. However, it does not check for tone.
Hemingway Editor is an amazing resource for checking readability and general writing. The program points out the use of too many adverbs, hard to understand sentences, alternatives to words, and more.
Readability refers to the level of ease with which someone can read your writing and is typically assessed on a grade scale. For example, a document that is rated “Grade 6” means a 6th grader can read it and understand it. The lower your readability score, the better. Although your readers likely graduated high school or college, easier readability allows them to better digest what you are trying to say in a shorter time frame. Too high of a readability score means the reader may get confused, become bored, or stop reading.
Poor sentence structure and grammatical errors will actually increase your readability score, so be sure to pay attention to what Hemingway is trying to tell you!
While you’re thanking your editor on National Grammar Day, be sure to ask them for some tips pertaining to your writing. Ask a few questions:
- What grammatical or spelling errors do you commonly see in my work?
- What steps can I take to improve my writing?
- What steps can I take to make your job easier?
- Are there any other recommendations you can make that will help me improve my grammar?
You could also ask to see previously edited pieces of work to see exactly what your editor is changing. For example, Google Docs allows for “suggestions.” This means you can complete the writing, send it to your editor, and they can show you, in real time, what they suggest changing in your document. In Word documents, tracked changes allow changes to be made, accepted, or rejected, similar to the Google Docs suggestions.
National Grammar Day may seem like an unimportant holiday, but it’s the perfect excuse to hone up on your skills!
Need an editor that will help you improve your writing and get rid of those pesky mistakes? Shea Writing and Training is here to help! Contact us here to work with an editor.