Grammar Is Your Friend (I)

Dear students,

I usually enjoy reading your texts, since you have lots of things to show the world. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures, your exciting stories, and your points of view! As you must have noticed, sometimes I leave a comment below your posts, and sometimes I correct them a little bit. Other times, I just wink and smile. Correcting everything would be humanly impossible and also quite intrusive. Communication is as important as correction and playing the role of Mrs. Rottenmeier is not really my cup of tea. However, I think it is time to go one step further and try to polish your texts as much as you can. In order to do so, I would like to give you some tips on editing your texts before you publish them:

1. Slow down: reread and rewrite slowly. I know some of you invest quite a lot of time in this, but others just drop some lines and feel too impatient to reread and edit. This is something I observed during our last test in class. Remember: the more slowly you edit now, the faster you will finish in the future, once you have assimilated all the new vocabulary and syntax. (I promise!)

2. Use dictionaries, grammar books, Google and any online resources you find useful and easy. It is quite common and extremely frequent to have doubts and uncertainties when writing in a foreign language. English is not our mother tongue. What to do? Use monolingual dictionaries, look the words up "in context", use a corrector. Translating from Spanish is usually a bad idea. And remember that coining new Spanglish words is not necessarily one of the aims of this course! If you slow down and dip into good grammar while writing at home, I am sure your writing will become more flexible and rich. Thus, when you face the final exam (writing an essay in three hours), I am sure you will find it easier, even if you are not allowed to use a dictionary.

3. I would like to recommend a superb application that might help you improve your writing. This is a grammar checker that can analyse academic, technical, creative and casual writing: GRAMMARLY. Have a look and give it a try. You can also read the GRAMMARLY BLOG, which is full of tips, explanations and jokes. I follow Grammarly on Facebook too.

As you will realize, this application only provides you with exact corrections if you pay for it. Well, you don't need to do that. You can use it to get a "diagnosis" and then try to be autocritical and find your mistakes on your own. If you don't like this idea, you can always google the expressions you don't really know.

4. Another online resource I like to use is LINGUEE, which is a dictionary and a translation search with lots of example sentences from human translators. There you can read the expressions in context.

5. Of course, don't forget to ask your classmates, friends, and  teachers whenever you need some extra help. Meeting and getting to know a native speaker is always a great option too.

Well, that's all for now. I will be back with more grammatical support soon.

Kind regards,


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