Language Primer: Basics of Grammar, Punctuation and Word Use (Custom Edition)

Course Overview

Title:
Language Primer: Basics of Grammar, Punctuation and Word Use (Custom Edition)
Type:
Self-Directed Course
Cost:
$19.95
Time Estimate:
4-5 hours

Order a custom package with this primer for just $14.95 per student, or add the News Literacy Primer or Numeracy Primer or Language Primer for $24.95. Or bundle all three primers for 34.95. Each comes with access to your students’ scores through an Instructor Dashboard™. Email info@newsu.org for more information.

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.

To get started, click on any of the sections in the navigation bar at left.

We also want to offer a special thanks to the educators and professional editors who have contributed to this course:

CONTRIBUTORS

Andy Bechtel

Andy Bechtel is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he teaches editing and newswriting. He writes a blog about editing and writing at editdesk.blogspot.com.

Bechtel has nearly 12 years of editing experience in newspapers, primarily at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He spent the summer of 2008 working as an editor at the website of the Los Angeles Times. His other experience includes work as a copy editor and page designer at the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C.

Bechtel is a member of the executive committee of the American Copy Editors Society, and he is the author of a Poynter NewsU course, Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Creating Alternative Story Forms. He is a frequent contributor to the ACES newsletter, and he has written reviews and articles for Quill, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and Society for News Design Update.

Mark Allen

Mark has been a journalist for more than 20 years, reporting, copy editing and leading special projects and a 180,000-circulation Sunday edition. He now specializes in editing business communications and scholarly work, especially in the field of educational policy, and he is the owner of markallenediting.com. Follow him on Twitter @editormark.

Sue Burzynski Bullard

Sue Burzynski Bullard teaches editing, reporting and multimedia classes. She joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty in August 2008 after a year as a visiting editor-in-residence at Michigan State University.

Before heading to the classroom, Sue held a variety of editing positions during 21 years at The Detroit News, including three years as managing editor. In that role, she was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the newsroom. She supervised nearly 300 journalists and helped to integrate print and online newsrooms. Before The News, she worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Lansing and Port Huron, Mich.

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.

Course Instructors:

Roy Peter Clark

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

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.

Pam Hogle

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.