Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Indefinite articles, commas, conversations, and ampersands.

Grammar in Plain EnglishDespite the reputation of libraries for being bastions of silent study, one of the best things about working in one is the scintillating, intelligent conversation with colleagues and patrons. Whether we're discussing books, current events, film, the arts, the repartee is always witty and sparkling.

An occasional, yet favorite, topic of conversation is... grammar! It can get heated as we pore over writing handbooks and style manuals, verbally correcting the books in our collection or an article from a national news organization. To many, grammar is something learned in 10th grade and promptly forgotten. To us, it is as important as gravity and breathing.

PunctuationIf you'd like to join our lovely conversation, you can start with Grammar Girl's useful A vs. An post, so you don't need to stumble when you mention a historical walking tour, vs. an architectural tour of the plaza. Grammar Girl has also come in handy deciding bets about Less vs. Fewer, and even salvaged a friendship torn asunder by the perennial Who vs. Whom debate.

If you'd like a little less sass with your grammar lesson, the Purdue University Online Writing Lab has tons of resources on writing, grammar, and usage. For everyone from high school students to ESL learners and professional writers, there are handouts and workshops available. They also provide information about the A vs. An debate, to prevent us all from making fools of ourselves.

And to get us out of contentious waters, I would just like to highlight two of my favorite grammar and punctuation entities: the ampersand and the Oxford comma. Come on in and join the conversation.

Editor's note: the Author changed one of the prepositions in the first sentence three times.

1 comment:

Bram said...

Always a favorite: Common Errors In English, especially the Non-Errors (Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English) section.