If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to sound more polished or just to raise your smarty-pants standing with your friends and colleagues, I have three unique methods you can use to improve your grammar in 2018.
1. Read more
In my family, reading more almost always makes our lists of New Year’s resolutions. If it was already on your list, congratulations! You’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone. Reading is a great way to improve your grammar, because it teaches your brain to use correct grammar in a “monkey see, monkey do” kind of way.
One of my English professors said one reason grammar courses aren’t mandatory in most college English programs is because those who are interested in earning an English degree are usually avid readers. The only issue is, while your grammar will improve the more you read, you won’t understand why. For instance, growing up, you probably automatically knew it should be “he went to the store” instead of “him went to the store,” but you probably didn’t know that it’s “he” because “he” is the subject of the sentence.
There is a caveat: you have to read books with good grammar. If you buy from a bookstore, you’re probably safe, but be wary of books published in small print editions (often sold online and only in paperback) or e-books, which tend to not go through a publisher and an editing team.
2. Learn a new language
If you needed another reason to learn a new language, it turns out it can greatly help with improving your grammar. Learning another language forces you to better understand your own because you are relearning grammar basics like tense, part of speech, and sentence structure. You’d be surprised at how much you have to think about how to say something using proper English when translating it into another language. It also pushes you to learn how to use grammar in new ways, like how to correctly restructure sentences while maintaining proper grammar.
Unlike the first resolution to read more, learning a new language helps you understand the mechanics or the “why” of grammar as well as its application. The downside is that it’s not nearly as natural as improving grammar through reading. It takes a lot of brain power, time, and focus.
3. Expand your vocabulary
As weird as it sounds, vocabulary and grammar are actually closely related. When you learn a new word, you’re also learning its part of speech, tenses, and how to use it in a sentence. Each component relates to how words work together to form a grammatically correct sentence.
I subscribe to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day email to expand my vocabulary. They also offer examples and quizzes to test your knowledge and make sure you’re really understanding the material. If you want extra credit, you can check out their website every once in a while and read their surprisingly fun articles and games—it’s like Buzzfeed, but for English nerds.
Speaking of subscriptions, there are plenty of writing, reading, and grammar sites out there that you can subscribe to that offer tips, suggestions, or lessons to help keep you up to date on all things grammar—including this one! Subscribe to SpeakingDIRECT today to continue receiving tips and tricks to improve your grammar throughout the year, along with a lot of other great content on writing, data-driven marketing, creative design, and more!
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