Just about every day I have a grammar question, despite that in junior high school I was an ace at diagramming sentences. Most commonly I need to figure out how to punctuate something I have written. I search for an answer, and I want to remember the information — if possible — so that I can use it the next time the same question arises. Yes, I could consult The Elements of Style, On Writing Well, The Chicago Manual of Style, or countless other good grammar books.
These days, however, when I am puzzling over a comma or a particular word, I almost always go online to find a podcast at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips. I listen to the explanation, usually accompanied by music and amusing examples, and even days later I still remember the rule or the spelling or usage — even if the topic has not reappeared in my writing.
If you have not checked out the Grammar Girl podcasts, take some time to do so. They are great fun — two words that I never associated with sentence diagrams.
To get started, think of the grammar or writing problem that causes you the most grief, search through the episodes, and voilà, you can discover the answer by listening to a short podcast, cleverly presented. A menu on Grammar Girl’s site divides the podcast tips into categories — grammar, punctuation, word choice, and style — or you can simply go to the All Tips tab and work your way through. Sometimes she puts up special feature podcasts such as the Top Ten Grammar Myths, and Grammar Girl’s site also features apps and widgets to download.
The site has more advertising than I am used to — this is Grammar Girl’s professional work, after all — but rarely is it in your face. Sometimes she has a short ad on her podcast — usually she reads it — but even these are not intrusive. The site also connects to Quick and Dirty Tips on topics such as health, pets, money, and a variety of other topics — podcasts produced by others. Grammar Girl, however, is the best.
Grammar Girl publishes her own grammar books, and I’ve purchased some of them. Yet, most of the time I just go to the site to listen, understand, remember, and get back to writing. Most of the books remain on the shelves.