Grammar Sites

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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There's no denying that Internet grammar sites are becoming more and more valuable. They contain accurate information that's easy to access. It's an added benefit, though, for anyone with an interest in good writing to have several classic reference books at hand on the shelf. They remain, for the moment, the most comprehensive. This may change soon enough, though it's hard to know when. Once it does, the convenience is likely to be irresistible. The Encyclopedia Britannica is a good example. It's already online, with annual subscriptions running about $60 a year.

Grammar Sites: More Than Grammar

Back to why it's well worth taking the time you're taking now to find and look at different grammar sites, however. For a start, there are the technologies inherent to electronic information systems. The most important of them is metadata indexing, which makes it all possible. Search engine programming--whether network infrastructure or Internet--uses it to comb all available files using the search terms you specify. It is, then, what makes virtually every resource available almost instantly.

This generally makes answering your questions about relative pronouns and dangling participial phrases considerably quicker than flipping through the Associated Press style guide on your shelf. I say generally because if you want a good answer, whether from a search engine, a computer program, or a person, you need to pose the question clearly. Just as important for some as immediate gratification, though, are discussion forums that focus on writing, style, usage, and grammar.

There is far more useful information on grammar sites, then, than lists of the 37 or 20 most common and egregious grammatical and punctuation errors. English is a vital language and is constantly evolving. Usage changes over time and keeping up with how top-ranked writers like William Safire choose to write is instructive as well as entertaining. Grammar, after all, is more than nouns, verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, adjectives, and adverbs. Usage and grammar and punctuation and style are intertwined.

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