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Exercise: Going to grammar's house

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 11 Dec 2005

I believe that writers must know how to do research, in order to obtain any information they might need for their writing.

I also believe that writers must continually learn more about the language (or for some of us, the languages) they use.

This exercise combines both these concepts.

None of us has a perfect mastery of grammar and other aspects of language. In fact, most of us have only an instinctive knowledge - we know what sounds right, but can't explain why (or if) it's actually correct.

So the exercise this week is this: pick an aspect of grammar (or style, or any other aspect of writing) which you would like to know more about. Using any reference books at hand, your local library or bookstore, and on-line sites, study this topic to gain a better understanding of it. (By the way, don't disregard your favourite dictionary!) Discussions on the writing list suggest a number of potential such topics: passive voice, those pesky "ing" verbs, etc. How much do you know about verb tenses, or the various tropes available to us? What are dangling participles, and why are the wrong? When is it right to use a comma, or a semi-colon, or a dash? When should we hyphenate compound adjectives? What are the rules concerning capitalization? Whatever topic you choose, spend at least an hour or two researching it, using at least two references.

Your submission should describe, as clearly as possible, what you learned. Give examples, please, including if possible examples of the problems that can occur if this aspect is not done correctly! As well, your submission should include a pointer to at least one useful reference: a book, a web site, whatever.

When critiquing, point out anything that isn't clear to you (and if possible, do extra research to clarify it). Add any knowledge or references you can on this topic.

Send your submissions to the list today through Friday with the subject heading:
   Subject: SUB: Going to grammar's house [your name]

Critique each other's submissions (today until the next exercise is posted) with the subject heading:
   Subject: CRIT: Going to grammar's house [writer's name]

For discussion directly related to the exercise, use the subject header:
   Subject: DISC: Going to grammar's house

Want critiques on this exercise after the exercise ends? Request private critiques with the subject header:
   Subject: OFFER: Going to grammar's house (Respondents must reply off-list).

The current and previous exercises are archived at: http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/pwarchive/

Have fun!


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.