Grammar and Style

Do you know the difference between "affect" and "effect"? Do you know when to use a semi-colon?  How about how to avoid a dangling modifier?  If not, you're not alone. 

The grammatical rules of written English are a source of worry for many people.  For some, concerns about making mistakes lead them to avoid writing altogether, or a feeling of "I can't write." 

The reasons some people have trouble with written grammar are too complex to explain here.1  It's safe to say, however, that it's not because of laziness or not caring.

Some important concepts to be aware of (whether you struggle with written grammar or not):

  1. Spelling does not correlate with intelligence.
  2. Spoken and written grammar are very different from each other.
  3. English written grammar and spelling are often counter-intuitive.
  4. Reading what you’ve written out loud and slowly can catch a lot of errors.
  5. Good writers ask someone else, or look up the answer themselves.
  6. The more often you ask (or look things up), the more your grammar will improve.
  7. If what you are writing is important, take your time.

Resources for Grammar and Spelling

Below are several relatively kind grammar websites that you can turn to for grammar and spelling help.  Remember that everyone makes grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.  When in doubt, look it up.

Resources for Style

The SLCC Style Guide provides common editing guidelines from the two styles that higher education institutions primarily use for internal and external workplace communication:Associated Press (AP) and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS).  These styles are different from those found in academic writing and academic fields/disciplines (e.g. MLA, APA, IEEE).2

The Online AP Style Guide is available to SLCC employees and students through the SLCC Library.  Additionally, subscriptions to the AP Style Book can be purchased through their website. The Chicago Manual of Style is freely available online when accessing the internet on an SLCC campus, or through All Access when away from campus.  

1 If you are interested in learning about the complexity of written English grammar, read Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style.

2 While some academic disciplines use the Chicago Manual of Style, most do not.  When writing academic documents, be sure to use the formatting, citation, and style guidelines accepted by that discipline.  Refer to the Purdue OWL's Complete Discipline Listing for information.