I've recently noticed an irritating trend in English-language writing: sections that really should be written in the past perfect tense are instead in the simple past tense. I've seen this more in American English than in British English, but that might just be confirmation bias. Is there a reason for this, for example a new style of teaching in schools or universities? And is it really new, or am I just looking for things to get annoyed about? [more inside]
posted by daisyk
on Dec 14, 2013 -
I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
posted by Unhyper
on May 22, 2013 -
How do you edit writing written in a different dialect than your own? I'm very soon going to be responsible for editing some English technical/business writing by a team in a highly multilingual south-Asian country. [more inside]
posted by TheNewWazoo
on Dec 2, 2012 -
Years ago Jack Hart, the esteemed editor and writing coach at The Oregonian
, posted the rough drafts of Tom Hallman's Pulitzer winning story The Boy Behind the Mask
. Perhaps to a writers'/journalists' forum or mailing list. One editor's reaction to seeing the progression of the story through the drafts was to call it the most instructive lesson he'd ever had in newspaper writing. Help me track down those drafts!
posted by AceRock
on Nov 26, 2012 -
I'm a writer - with a British English education. I've just finished a young adult novel that I'm polishing to go on submission. Should I be making sure everything is in US English? [more inside]
posted by teststrip
on Jun 13, 2012 -
Sources explaining why you shouldn't put a comma after the year when a date is used as an adjective? [more inside]
posted by flod logic
on May 16, 2012 -
English language friends: Why do we use the word “different” when it doesn’t appear to be necessary? [more inside]
posted by bryon
on Apr 17, 2012 -
E.B. White and George Orwell both suggest that short, lively Saxon words are often better than long Latin ones. This rule has helped my own writing, but my thesaurus is still full of Greek and Latin. Is there a thesaurus that includes only Anglo-Saxon synonyms? Even better, is there one sortable by origin?
posted by ecmendenhall
on Mar 3, 2012 -
Summer short course filter: Fun readings on the internet, the future, and research in the digital age for high school teachers. Help a librarian plan a syllabus! [more inside]
posted by activitystory
on Apr 28, 2011 -
Tutoring two 2nd-grade students in writing more creatively. I'm a creative writing grad student, so no sweat right? Wrong. Their first language isn't English. [more inside]
posted by joyeuxamelie
on Apr 19, 2011 -
I'm teaching a humanities course at an open-admission college. The students are extremely poor writers, and have almost zero knowledge of English grammar. This semester, I want to help them avoid comma splices, since that's one of the top three issues I see in their papers (spelling errors and sentence fragments being the other two). Can you help me design a lesson/activity to help them? [more inside]
posted by philosophygeek
on Jan 11, 2011 -
I'm currently finishing my last English Literature Honors paper and aim to continue academic study. My dilemma is that I am unsure of whether to apply for an English Literature MA or a Creative Writing MA. [more inside]
posted by New England Cultist
on Aug 12, 2010 -
I Need to take and pass PRAXIS I asap. I looked at the sample questions on ETS website. My strongest area is math followed by reading. On the writing section, I feel I can do well on the essay as it seems natural to me but the technical terms used for grammar, etc, get me lost. So i am looking for advice to study all three parts, especially the technical English stuff. Should I buy the books from ETS? Are there better options? Thanks!
posted by lake59
on Feb 11, 2010 -
Tell me everything you know about this sentence construction:
"Are you finished your lunch?" [more inside]
posted by peep
on Oct 22, 2009 -
You are a paid writer/screenwriter/columnist/blogger. What can you tell me about how to best break into this profession? [more inside]
posted by the NATURAL
on Oct 12, 2009 -
I've fallen in love with a certain older British character actor and want to write his biography...where do I begin? [more inside]
posted by frosty_hut
on Sep 4, 2009 -
Help explain why my writing partner constantly uses a word in a way I find weird and incorrect. A question that anyone can answer. [more inside]
posted by Doctor Suarez
on Aug 18, 2009 -
I am a community college English instructor, and I am working on structuring my Comp I class around the theme of work. Can anyone recommend some thoughtful articles, websites, books (easily excerpted), etc. about work or the workplace? Most of my students have limited reading comprehension skills, so I can’t use anything that is too specialized or advanced. I’m looking for articles on the level of Time or Newsweek. Thanks!
posted by alspeigh
on Jul 3, 2009 -
How do I write short (ca. 150 words) and engaging descriptions of movies in English without sounding too subjective (I don't want to use the first person POV)? The people reading will be average movie goers. Any tips, examples or links that you can recommend? Many thanks!
posted by Foci for Analysis
on Mar 20, 2008 -
Explain tenses to me? Past/present/future, continuous/simple/perfect, and so on, in English. I can use them with fluency, but I need to be able to explain them (when each is used, how to form them). I've tried Fowler's, Chicago Manual of Style, and a number of other resources, but they seem to subtly contradict one another. Is there a simple, go-to reference for this?
posted by sarahkeebs
on Sep 28, 2007 -
Help me come up with an evocative simile that conveys a profound but unemotional appreciation of a thing. My existing, imperfect prose is inside for your delectation. [more inside]
posted by perissodactyl
on Aug 4, 2007 -
What activities can I suggest during a workshop on designing awesome creative writing assignments for overworked ESL teachers to use in class? (In Indonesia?) (With learners across many levels?) (For little/no money?) (Without Powerpoint?) [more inside]
posted by mdonley
on Jan 18, 2007 -
I am an ESL teacher, and I have several types of classes; however, I have one problem, my handwriting looks as if I were a five year old scribbling with a crayon. So I am curious if anyone might have any suggestions on getting better at handwriting and printing for someone who doesn't have time to go to a course. Also, a second related question, are there any ideas for making conversation corrections? When my students are speaking, I write down various things that they are saying, and make various corrections, or simply offer alternatives, or local dialect. What are some of the most effective and useful ways to do this? If there are any people who have spent any time learning other languages, what ahs helped you most?
Thank you all in advance.
posted by Knigel
on Oct 24, 2006 -
Pimp my freshman composition class: what essays would you put on the syllabus? [more inside]
posted by wheat
on Jul 27, 2006 -
What's the deal with expressing ownership on names that end in 's'? If I had a buddy named 'Loveless' and wanted to talk about his pet dog, I would write "Loveless' pet dog". But I would clearly pronounce
the exact same sentence like "Lovelesses pet dog". Doesn't that suck?
posted by fucker
on Nov 23, 2005 -
PunctuationFilter: I'm writing the copy for a CD insert booklet in which the title of a book is mentioned. Typically, I'd italicize it, but the entire piece is already in italics. What's the standard here?
posted by plexiwatt
on Dec 6, 2004 -
What does "normative" mean? Is it a useful word? I only ever see it used in obscure, academic writing, which makes me suspect it's worthless. How is it different from "normal"? My dictionary says it means, "Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar." That sounds like "normal" to me, so why not just say "normal"? Can someone give me some clear sentences that use the word -- sentences that are not written in post-modern, complit speak? Can one use "normative" meaningfully in a sentence about real-world things, like butter, eggs or bricks?
posted by grumblebee
on May 21, 2004 -