In this guide we have gathered together some of the best grammar guides that we've found on the web. They're all highly useful and we recommend using them when you're in need of some guidance.
While using them, it's worth keeping in mind that grammar is not an exact science. Grammar rules have been devised by writers over the years, and sometimes it's not advisable or even possible to follow them. Therefore, use this guides as suggestions rather than hard and fast rules. If you follow the spirit of the advice given, you can't go wrong.
Quick grammar guides
Sometimes you just want to look something up quickly, or remind yourself of a rule that you are already aware of. These guides are the best for this kind of usage.
- The Grammar Handbook: This is a primarily text based resource, with all the details divided by subject.
- Guide To Grammar And Style: This guide is well written and easy to follow for anyone who wants to learn more about grammar.
- Grammar And Composition: These posts are a fun and bite sized way to learn more about every day grammar.
There're plenty of guides that also feature quizzes, so you can test yourself on what you just learned.
- Modern English Grammar: This guide shows you how grammar affects the function of your language and how others comprehend it.
- HyperGrammar: This site has a great interface that lets you click on terms for more detailed explanations.
- Guide To Grammar And Writing: This site has drop down menus where you can pick the exact grammar issue that's giving you trouble.
Finally, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, try checking out the Schoolhouse Rock site. There're lots of resources available that will explain grammar conventions in an easy to understand way. If you want a further nostalgia trip, try looking up their songs on Youtube.
A usage guide is for you if you're struggling with choosing between words of similar meaning, or the correct spelling or often misspelled words. Here're some guides that cover issues in detail.
- Common Errors In English: If you're forever confusing 'you're' and 'your', this is the site for you. It covers lots of common confusions between words, and explains why one version is the best in a certain situation.
- The American Heritage Guide To English Usage: Hosted on Bartleby.com, this guide helps you distinguish between commonly confused words. The wrong word choice can be potentially embarrassing, after all.
Thesauruses and Dictionaries
These are vital to have in your possession as a student. They can help you find the word that you need but you can't quite think of, or help you spell that word when you can't think of the right way to do so. Printed dictionaries are bulky and heavy, but luckily there are some excellent digital versions.
- WordSmyth: This combination dictionary and thesaurus is one that you should bookmark. It will both define a word for you, and suggest synonyms.
- Dictionary.com: This online dictionary draws from several dictionaries to provide its definitions. It also hosts a blog that talks about spelling and grammar conventions.
Grammar Myths: The Rules That Aren't Really Rules
As mentioned in the introduction, there are plenty of grammar rules that no longer make sense. Plenty of professors see their students hand in assignments that make no sense, as they've tried to slavishly stick to the rules.
One good example is the rule 'never split an infinitive'. That may be a rule you were taught at school, but in fact there were writers way back in the Middle Ages who were happily breaking it.
While there are rules that you can ignore, there are others that need to be paid attention to. There are guides online that will help you tell the difference.
- Grammarphobia: These quick guides help you identify the most common grammar myths.
- Grammar Girl: This insightful blog lists the top myths that you shouldn't be falling for anymore.
- Language Log: This site goes more in depth into why some rules have persisted, even though they don't work anymore.
Classic Style Guides
Although modern style guides are much looser in how grammar is used, it can still be helpful to read older guides so you can see where the rules came from. There's Strunk's Elements of Style (1918) or The King's English (1908), both available on Bartelby.com. As you can see, they are both way out of copyright so are very out of date, but they make fascinating reads.
The American Language (1919) is another interesting read and really delves into the history of how the language has evolved.
Science and Technical Writing Guides
Writing in the sciences means you have to learn a whole new way of writing. It's nothing like what you've learned in the past. Luckily, there are guides that will help you out.
- Labwrite: If you need a detailed guide to writing lab reports, this is where you need to be.
- Grammar, Punctuation and Capitalization: This NASA penned guide can be downloaded in its entirety, and tackles the writing problems that is unique to science writing.
English for Non Native Speakers
There's plenty of advice for non native speakers of English online. However, you do need to be picky about which sources you use. They can be split into two camps: non-profit and for-profit. The non-profit sites are usually university lead ones, and so are easy to use. The for-profit ones will often give some free content in order to draw you in for the paid content. If you're clever, you can just use the free content without paying, if you find it useful. Here're some sites we feel are useful for non native English speakers.
- English As A Second Language: There's lots of resources available on this website, such as quizzes to test your knowledge, and examples of grammar such as simple vs. progressive tenses.
How We Choose the Sites
Every site listed here has been checked thoroughly by us. We want you to have the best resources possible, so you know you're getting valued information. We check that they aren't inundated with ads, although some are fine as bandwidth costs money. We also check that the information on there is clear, informative, and in date. Finally, they must be easy and interesting to read.
Hopefully you've found this guide useful, and now have several options at your disposal when it comes to grammar. Bookmark your favourites and break them out whenever you need them.