Be grammar conscious #AtoZChallenge

Grammar is a piano I play by ear ~ Joan Didion

Do you know what JK Rowling, Jeffrey Archer, Jodi Picoult, Joanne Harris have in common? (besides having J as the first letter in their name?)

They are my favourite authors. Plus, they have a perfect command over grammar. And spelling.

Yes, I am nervously beating around the bush. Time to get to the point. Time to call a spade a spade.

*deep breath* *exhale*

There are too many people with very bad English grammar skills, who write and publish content.

The funny thing is, these people don’t even realise it. And even if they do, they lack the inclination / ability to do something about it.

Being a native English speaker, I have taken grammar for granted. I just assume that whatever I write is perfect. But there have been times where I have had to improve on my grammar skills.

And I would like to use my experience to help you out.

It’s pretty easy. You don’t have to sit with a pencil and  weed out typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. You have access to apps. And Spellchecks.

And three easy tips by me.

Get ready to bid goodbye to your grammar and spelling problems, and say hello to the new you.

1. Accept that you have a problem: The thing is, most of us are so used to making  certain grammatical mistakes that we don’t even realise we do it. Or worse, we may not even know we are making a mistake. Example: I have a bad habit of writing really long sentences with too many clauses. I can’t write short sentences, because I feel that I’m not providing enough information when I don’t write a long sentence. (See what I did here? This sentence has TWO subordinators. ) And because of this problem, my posts get a bit difficult to read (and I used to get ‘less than expected’ marks in English papers, much to the chagrin of my friends who knew I was a blogger. But that’s fodder for a different post).

So, find out your weaknesses in the grammar field. How? Simple. Use the Hemingway app online. It’s a foolproof way of seeing the exact areas where you have made mistakes. Plus, you can learn from your mistakes on your own! Subscribe to grammar blogs, and get Word Of The Day notifications on your dictionary app. Also, check out this Grammarly Handbook over at the official Grammarly website!
2. Practice writing daily: Even if you are a blogger who posts once a week/month/quarter/only on your birthday, you need to write daily. You don’t need to post everything you write.

Maintain a separate notebook for this exercise. Don’t use the one which you use for blogging. Write 250-500 words a day. After writing daily, use the above-mentioned Hemingway app to review your work for the day. Don’t feel discouraged if you get a lot of mistakes at the first go. Instead, make a record of it. Note down your daily progress on the notebook, and see the gradual improvements in your writing.

3. Read like Dr. Reid: For those of you mortals who don’t know who Dr. Spencer Reid is, please go Wikipedia him out. He has an eidetic memory, and can read 20000 words per minute. *gulp*  Did I mention he’s a fictional character?

In the show Criminal Minds, Dr. Reid reads a lot of books. (I can’t get enough of this pun). He keeps on reading a lot of books, despite having an IQ of 187. Plus, he actually remembers everything he reads. (I wish all my followers were like Dr. Reid.)

Inspired much? Here’s a simple goal to start with: Start reading one book per week. The average reading speed is 200-250 words per minute, or 12000-15000 words per hour. An average novel has 60000 words, so you can theoretically complete a book in 4-5 hours of dedicated reading.

So your weekly plan to improve grammar should be something like this: read for an hour a day, five days a week, take the remaining two days to converse with someone fluent in English / watch an English TV show, and practice daily writing. Or, check out your reading speed using free tests available online. Do the math like I did. Plan your weekly schedule accordingly.

Also, don’t read for the sake of enjoying the plot. Not if you want to improve your grammar. While reading a book, make sure you concentrate on:

A. Learning the meaning of new words. Use an online dictionary / dictionary app. Focus on the ‘usage in a sentence’ part. Also, if you’re feeling a bit more energetic, look up synonyms for the difficult words. Think about why the author decided to use that particular word, and not one of its synonyms.

B. Identify the tense used. It should be consistent throughout the book (except during flashbacks). Also, identify whether the book is in first person/third person narrative. Keep tabs on whether this is consistent too.

C. Look at the structure of the sentences. Are the sentences small and easy to read? Also, learn how different punctuation marks are used, and how they can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence when used correctly. (Ugh, I can’t stop writing long sentences)

While selecting books to read, make sure not to pick up classics first. Select books from the genre that you like, and look for books which other (trusted) readers recommend to you. If you like reading one book by a particular author, read other books by that same author.

Check this video by Indian Booktuber for some cool book recommendations to start with. Feel free to add me on GoodReads, and check out the few book reviews I’ve written till date.

Wassup, happy readers! This post is written for the #AtoZChallenge, and this is the third year I’m participating in this challenge. Do keep cheering me on all through this month, as I’m hell-bent on scoring a hat-trick in 2017, at the age of 18! My theme for this year is : The Encyclopedia of Blogging Memories, Feelings and Lessons.

You can check out my #AtoZChallenge 2015 (Theme: Harry Potter and Hogwarts) and 2016 (Theme: Weird Words) posts, and support my awesomeness!

Thank you Shailaja for suggesting this awesome topic for today’s post. Major shout-out to you! ❤

Here’s a special question for you to answer todayAre you a Grammar Nazi? If you are, do share some of your pet peeves when it comes to reading content on blogs/anywhere else. If not, don’t feel shy to share your views!


P.S.: I wrote and rewrote this post a lot yesterday, in a bid to avoid any grammatical/spelling mistakes. If you still happen to spot one, let me know! 🙂


24 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t like to be called a grammar nazi but if I read wrong grammar, I am instantly appalled. I still re-read my old blogs and correct them for wrong grammar :/

    Grammarly is a pretty good tool but I think there is no better editor than a fresh set of eyes


  2. Great tips as usual, Mithila! I’m more of a spelling Nazi. But my idea of a nightmare would be publishing content that’s​ grammatically wrong. I also tend to be appalled when people spell it grammer!


  3. Tarang Sinha says:

    Valid points and suggestions here. Very useful for writers.

    It feels bad when you spot your writing/editing errors. Editing requires a great deal of concentration (and innovation). You’re right that writers (sometimes, editors of big publishing houses) and even bloggers should take care of their editing errors, or else it disturbs the joy of reading.


  4. BellyBytes says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Nothing is more irritating than poorly written posts with complete disregard to grammar…..


  5. Suzy Que says:

    Many writers use colloquial English which may be foreign to some readers. I’ve grown tolerant of writing. I like to see the heart behind the writing and admire those who write even though English may not be their native language.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I need to keep a close watch on Dr. Reid definitely. I’m not a grammar Nazi, but bad grammar does put me off. But at times I’m guilty of it too. Sometimes when I have minimal time, I just hit publish without cross-checking a couple of times. Later when I look at it, I cringe.

    Lesson learnt. Never publish in a haste. I think one needs to take out time to proof read their posts well. But then again, not everyone is perfect. So I let it be at times. But stuff like hairs, feets, he’s goned and shooted gives me the creeps. If only people would accept that they have a problem, it would be so easy to help them with it.


  7. Shailaja V says:

    Ha ha I love you for this post. Yes, if people worked on their grammar more and not act all peeved if an error is pointed out, we’d have better quality content out there.

    Thanks for the shout out, Mithila 😊


  8. That’s an interesting post, pointers on the apps available. I will definitely consider the tips and check out the apps. Thanks.


  9. Rajlakshmi says:

    I will check out the Hemingway app … haven’t heard about it before. Grammatical mistakes on blog is still alright, but in a book – that’s a crime. I am not a grammar nazi so I still can breathe if I see a mistake 😛


  10. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! Bad grammar and spelling annoys me soooooo much! I loathe reading blogs with poor grammar, poor sentence structures or poor spelling. I don’t care if that makes me sound elitist but I am a grammar nazi. I must confess, it’s a bit hard during this challenge where I feel like I want to skip someone’s blog because of these problems but then because of the whole community feel, I persist. Sigh.


  11. A very important topic indeed! Grammarly is a wonderful app to greatly improve one’s writing. There is a free version in Chrome, but there’s also a paid version that is fantastic. Grammarly link if you’re interested.

    Hemmingway App is also brilliant. It’s excellent for pointing out when too many sentences are too long or too short. There’s a rhythm to writing, and it comes in part from sentences of varied length.

    A big pet peeve is when there are several easy-to-spot errors in the first page of a book. Yikes.


  12. J Walters says:

    Wonderful post. As a person who fact checks and word checks everything I write, I acknowledge it’s possible to make mistakes even when you’re being careful. But the lax attention online to all the things you mention in your post is so aggravating. Thanks for raising this.


  13. Lalita says:

    I am a grammar nazi, successfully OCD-ing over it since years. One time, I wrote out on an A4 sheet of paper – “DUCK SWIMS, DUCKS SWIM, GEDDIT?” for a senior colleague whose work I occasionally reviewed. He came back asking me what in heaven the difference was. At that point, I swear I may have needed a restraining order had some friends not intervened. I hear you loud and proud.


  14. Modern Gypsy says:

    This is such an important topic – there are so many bloggers who have some lovely stories and ideas, but the writing just puts me off. Hemingway is an excellent app, and the Gramarly book is a good start too. But the best way to improve language skills overall is by reading good authors. Joanne Harris is one of my absolute favorites!


  15. My Era says:

    Loved your approach to this key topic that gets everyone’s goat but seldom does anyone own up that they need help with improving their prose. I am not a grammar nazi, simply because I too make grammatical errors every now and then. The one thing that I really need to work upon is reading like Dr. Reid and the rest shall follow with diligence.


  16. Loved your tips Mithila. I’m not a grammar nazi but yes I do correct people when someone makes a mistake! Wish I could spot the mistakes in my posts easily as well! I’m blind sometimes. Though I read and reread a post I end not finding a mistake which is right there in front of me! I ask my friend to read my posts sometimes so that she can spot mistakes that I didn’t.


  17. Vidya Sury says:

    Arrgh. I am not mean about grammar but it is certainly annoying when the writing is badly put together. And yes, the ones that need the advice are usually pretty bad at taking it. Good resources there, Mithila! Great topic for G! One of my pet peeves is “one of my friend” and the eternal confusion over you are, you’re and your and of course the dilemma over of and off. Ugh!


  18. swathishenoy says:

    Wonderful post Mithila. Nothing like bad grammar to lose the readers! Very useful tips. I am definitely using that grammar checker.

    Great Indian Sale


  19. akaushiva says:

    Such a well thought out post! Loved the pointers, acceptance is the first step. I’m not a grammar Nazi, but lazy grammatical errors do put me off. Lazy!


  20. Kalpanaa says:

    I am a grammar Nazi and my first grouse is that people don’t even use the spell and grammar check on their computers. I don’t feel like returning to a blog with grammar mistakes even if the content is excellent! Good post Mithila. Great advice.


  21. inquisitivegeet says:

    Like you, I too have a problem with writing long sentences! And I face the exact same situation as you do. As for this post, without a doubt, it was another fabulous post by you, Mithila! I’m sure going to follow the tips you gave above.



  22. This is a much-needed post! I am a grammar prude. Though I make mistakes all the time … but as far as I come to know about my mistakes and can improve, I am good!
    Good tips thanks for sharing!
    Best Wishes!


  23. Every time I see a misplaced or misspelled word in my posts (or even tweets, where it happens so often), I cringe so hard. Often I see it days or weeks or months later! One of the reasons why (I think) I don’t get a lot of repeated visitors on my blog is cos I don’t read the posts of every blogger who comments on my posts. I can’t keep up that kind of reciprocation and pretend to appreciate a post that’s riddled with all kinds of grammar butchery.

    That said, of late I’ve been noticing my tenses have gone to dogs. Dear Lord!


  24. Great and helpful advice! I’ll definitely check out Hemingway app. Thank you. 🙂


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