Grammar Essentials

Welcome to Grammar Essentials!

Why is it important to know about grammar, usage, and punctuation?

A picture of a dinosaur with the words "If a semicolon is usually just like a period...why not just use a period?This is a great question you might be asking yourself, and if you’re not asking it, you probably should be. If you are a native speaker of English, you don’t even have to think about it to use grammar correctly, at least for the most part. If you have ever watched a child develop language, you know that, at a very young age, children know what is necessary for language to make sense.

But sometimes, when it comes to formal speaking and writing, we’re not familiar with the conventions or the “rules” for correctness. This is where the following pages can be really helpful.

Being correct goes beyond the basic grammar that language needs in order to function. Being correct means knowing the rules that a given culture has established to judge the language of individuals. Think about it: many years ago, ain’t was not considered incorrect. How might you react to someone using that word today? We speak of this as usage. There are far more usage rules than grammar rules, and they are far more difficult to master. Many of them you just have to learn; and, after you learn them, you have to use them over and over and over in order to incorporate them into your language.

It is important to remember that correctness is always relative to a particular situation and the “rules” for usage will always be changing. Sometimes, it can be tough to keep up with all that change!

This is why a native speaker of English will find the following pages in Grammar Essentials helpful. And, if you are not a native speaker of English, learning or reviewing things like parts of speech, punctuation, and common errors can be helpful in your efforts to learn and feel comfortable with the English language.

The Grammar Essentials area of the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab will provide you with a thorough overview of punctuation, grammar and usage, and some of the most common errors students in the United States struggle with. And, by using a little humor, we hope that this introduction into grammar and punctuation (using zombies, memes, and funny stories) will be a little less painful than when you were in junior high and had to do things like memorize prepositions or diagram sentences.

And, if you don’t have the want or need to go through all of these pages, the handy menu at the left should help you find exactly what you need.

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