Across the Internet, it’s all the rage to poke fun at grammar and spelling bloopers that appear on signs, websites, and Facebook posts.
A quick tour around the web will lead you to articles with titles such as:
- Top 5 Annoying Grammatical Mistakes
- 10 Punctuation Mistakes That Make You Look Stupid
- Five Grammar Errors That Make You Look Dumb
- 8 Grammatical Errors That Could Scare Away Readers
- 10 Résumé Mistakes That Can Cost You The Job
I won’t lie—there are some pretty hilarious examples out there. Funny as many of these are, however, this amazing scope of writing errors has begun to knock some sense into people. Without a doubt, grammar matters. That’s why homeschoolers, educators, and business folks alike are becoming increasingly concerned about teaching correct usage to this generation of students.
Bad Grammar Ruins a Good Message
Grammar and punctuation are a big deal. I don’t think I can say this too many times: poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation can interfere with your student’s writing success.
Sloppy grammar can render an otherwise great paper ineffective, because no matter how compelling the argument, some people just can’t get past the glare of those mechanical errors. Your teen may have interesting, clever things to say, but if his command of English usage is poor, it will get in the way of a good written message.
We’ve heard the old adage: Never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest. Right or wrong, we all make snap judgments about every person we meet. The way someone dresses, his hairstyle, his table manners, and the way he speaks can make us think highly of that person—or not so highly.
Writing that contains incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation can have a similar effect. A person may be bright and articulate, but if his writing is riddled with errors, it can actually make him appear uneducated and can jeopardize employment or advancement opportunities.
So what’s the purpose of grammar and punctuation?
Basically, these writing conventions help students communicate clearly, avoid ambiguity, and prevent misunderstandings. Here’s a humorous example:
The murderer protested his innocence an hour after he was put to death.
By adding a bit of punctuation, the true meaning of the sentence becomes clear:
The murderer protested his innocence. An hour after, he was put to death.
What a difference in meaning!
There are tons of grammar rules to help students improve the way they communicate in writing. Through practice and application, your children will find that most grammar concepts eventually become second nature.
Where Do I Start?
There’s a lot to learn. Where should you begin? What concepts should you teach? Diagramming may have its merits, but more practically:
- Does your student understand when to use which instead of that?
- Does he correctly use affect and effect, their/there/they’re, and other frequently flip-flopped homophones?
- Can he identify and fix misplaced modifiers?
- Does he know when to use I and when to use me?
Grammar matters, so make it an important part of teaching writing. Teach correct punctuation. Practice using homophones correctly. Work on your kids’ grammar skills.
You can all brush up together! Why not start with these six helpful links?
- Grammar Skills Your Kids Must Learn
- Quotation Marks at the End of a Sentence
- Do You Misuse or Misspell These 5 Words and Phrases?
- It’s vs. Its: What’s the Difference?
- Apostrophes and Family Names
- Fixing Comma Splices
Because grammar matters, we offer lots of tips for teaching tricky grammar and punctuation rules.
Two other excellent resources, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and All About Homophones, can help you teach and reinforce basic but important grammar and spelling conventions. Check them out!