In addition to my biology degree, I also have a degree in English. Like most of my good friends, I enjoy time spent with the written word (which is a rare commodity) and am in a position to do something to improve its status.
When I have time, I tutor students in writing. Although writing skills are considered essential for the twenty-first century worker, schools are spending increasingly less and less time teaching them. And when they do, they teach things (like “100 synonyms for ‘said’”) that we then have to unteach at the college level and in the workplace.
Please note that these handouts do not constitute a curriculum of any sort, nor are they meant to. They are simply summaries that I and the students I’ve tutored have found useful. If you are a teacher or college instructor, and would like to use these in your classroom, please read my permissions page. Thank you.
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Grammar describes words, the roles they play, and how they can be combined into phrases and clauses to form meaning, and how those phrases and clause can be combined into sentences to form complete thoughts.
Usage refers to the rules a language uses for constructing sentences. Engish has several different types of usage. The type I primarily focus on here is called "Standard English."
Diction refers to word choice. The emphasis here is not on correctlness, but appropriateness: choosing the words that best communicate the writer's meaning.
Mechanics refers to those items which primarily affect written, rather than spoken, language: spelling, capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations, and page format.
The resources above are about words and sentences. While words and sentences both have meaning, paragraphs are where ideas are born and live. Therefore, the following resources are about paragraph-level concerns: using the tools available to writers to construct paragraphs that convey ideas from the writer's mind to the reader's mind, and to avoid having ideas die untimely and ugly deaths.
Closely related to usage is style: the choices a writer makes about metaphors, sentence length and structure, unity and parallelism, and consistency, among other things.
Different types of writing require different approaches.
This section includes resources for studying and teaching poetry, short fiction, novels, drama, nonfiction, and speeches.