- Language Primer: Basics of Grammar, Punctuation and Word Use (2014 Public Edition)
- Self-Directed Course
- Time Estimate:
- 4-5 hours
About Self-Directed Courses
In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.
Do you or your students struggle with the basics of composition and writing? The "Language Primer" focuses on the fundamentals, giving you unlimited access to essays, practice drills and feedback. When you're ready, take the "final exam" for each section to see how much you've learned.
Whether you're stumped by the difference between active and passive voice, unsure about which spelling of "they're" or "there" to use or need a refresher on dangling modifiers, this course will help you write with greater confidence.
The Language Primer was specially designed to aid in the assessment of your strengths — and weaknesses — in grammar, punctuation and word use. You can zero in on your weak areas, studying the teaching text and drilling yourself on these topics until you become proficient. When you are ready, you can test your knowledge in the sections' assessment exams.
The Language Primer was designed for use in college-level and professional writing programs. It is used to diagnose students' weak areas, help them improve their grammar, punctuation and word use skills — and allow classroom instructors or writing coaches to focus on the more conceptual teaching they excel at.
Want to integrate this course into your curriculum or your organization's training program? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can create a special edition of this course for your students or staffers. As a bonus, you'll get access to an Instructor Dashboard™, giving you access to their assessment scores.
What Will I Learn:
This course covers the rules and principles of grammar, punctuation and word use in the English language. It specifically addresses the following topics:
- Dangling and misplaced modifiers
- The case of personal pronouns such as "I" and "me"
- Sentence structure concepts, including active and passive voice, sentence fragments and subject-verb agreement
- Apostrophe usage with contractions, possessive pronouns and plural words
- Comma usage
- Essential and non-essential clauses
- General word usage and common spelling mistakes
- Special focus on "to/too/two" and "they're/their/there"
A special thanks to the educators and professional editors who have contributed practice drills, activities and usage guidelines for this course. They include: Andy Bechtel, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Mark Allen, a journalist for more than 20 years, reporting, copy editing and leading special projects and a 180,000-circulation Sunday edition; and Sue Burzynski Bullard, who teaches editing, reporting and multimedia at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Who should take this course:
This course is for anyone who struggles with the basics of English grammar, word usage and punctuation. It also can be used as a review of the fundamentals or to diagnose and correct specific problems.
Roy Peter Clark is vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, where he has taught writing since 1979. He is the author of the book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer and course on Poynter's NewsU The Writer's Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use, and the book The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English. His latest work includes the book Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces, companion course on Poynter's NewsU, Help! for Writers and mobile app Help! for Writers. He is part of the one-day workshop, The Writing Process, offered through Poynter's NewsU. He also blogs and chats about writing tools on Poynter.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @RoyPeterClark.
His newest book is How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.
Merrill Perlman is a consultant who works with news organizations, private companies and journalism organizations, specializing in editing and the English language. She spent 25 years at The New York Times in jobs ranging from copy editor to director of copy desks, in charge of all 150-plus copy editors at The Times. She is an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and writes the Language Corner column for the Columbia Journalism Review. Merrill is a recipient of the Glamann Award from the American Copy Editors Society. She was a reporter for four years before becoming an editor.
Pamela Hogle is a freelance writer and editor. She holds master’s degrees in journalism and canine studies. Pam has taught editing at USFSP and worked as a copy editor at The Jerusalem Report and as a technical and marketing writer for NDS Technologies.