The internet is loaded with average content that can be amazing with just a few simple tweaks. Whether it’s a featured magazine article, ad copy, website content, a blog post, report, or eBook, your written content is your best chance to make a good impression on your readers. One way to transform average written content into amazing content is to learn how to improve your grammar.
As a writer, whether in print or online, you will be in competition with a million other freelancers looking to make their mark in the writing industry. This article suggests ways for you to learn how to improve your grammar and produce better-written content. Grammatically correct content helps you to stand out from the crowd and rise above all the mediocre writers who are also scrambling for readers.
1. Use the Built-in Grammar Check
This is probably one of the easiest free ways to begin to improve your English grammar and alert you to mistakes that you make over and over in your writing. MS Word and WordPerfect both include limited grammar checking that works in tandem with their spell check feature. It’s built-in so there’s no additional cost.
Keep in mind though built-in spellcheck features are not designed to catch every type of grammatical error. If you are using an open source program such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice, there are plug-ins that you can install to boost the ability of your word processor to check grammar but these still won’t catch everything.
I have a pre-submission checklist for my content that includes running the spellcheck and grammar check in MSWord or LibreOffice as the first step before I submit or publish a document. I don’t rely on that as a final check for grammar. I use two additional grammar checking apps as well. But if you can’t currently afford to pay for grammar checking, the built-in checker in your word processor is better than nothing at all.
2. Use a Grammar Checker App
There are a plethora of apps out there designed to check your grammar for you. I know of at least twenty and I’m sure there are at least twice that many available. These apps will alert you to errors in your writing that violate common grammar rules and standards. Before you choose a grammar app to use, do your research, read reviews, and make sure that you understand what types of grammatical errors will and won’t be checked by that app for the version you choose.
Keep in mind that most if not all of these grammar checker apps will cost you something eventually. A few apps do have a free version but the types of grammar errors checked will be limited. If you really want to catch the majority of grammatical errors, you should upgrade. In my opinion, paying for an app that really improves your writing is a long-term investment that pays off by winning you more clients.
I love Grammarly and HemingwayApp for grammar help when I’m writing. I always run my written content through Grammarly after I use my word processing checker. Many times I will run a document through Hemingway as well. I like Hemingway because it points out readability issues such as sentence complexity and length. These are issues I recognize as my bad grammar habits. Hemingway then scores your writing based on standard reading grade levels.
Regardless of which tool you choose you still need to know enough about the grammar rules to make the final decision yourself once the program alerts you to an issue. This is where our next two suggestions come in. To read about other essential author software, including these two programs, checkout my Writer’s Toolkit article.
3. Enroll in an Online Grammar Tutorial
There are many opportunities for you to participate in online courses geared specifically toward just about any topic or skill you can think of, including grammar. A grammar tutorial can help you to really understand the many components of grammar including:
- Understanding how to use pronouns correctly
- The difference between adjectives and adverbs
- Correct use of commas
- When to use active versus passive voice
There are many grammar tutorials out there on different platforms including YouTube, Lynda (run by LinkedIn), and Udemy. Some are free but you get what you pay for so do your homework and make sure you are getting your education from a reliable source.
4. Sign-up for Daily Grammar Lessons or Emails
Find a grammar site that you like and that has good reviews and sign-up for their email lessons or newsletters. Many grammar sites send daily messages that address a specific area of grammar in depth or share specific examples of common grammatical errors and how to correct them. Set aside a small amount of time to read them regularly and digest the information. This can help to improve your grammar knowledge gradually and help you produce better content.
5. Double and Triple Check
Another thing you can do to improve your grammar is to make sure you proofread your document at least twice, focusing on grammar both times. Create a checklist of common grammatical errors and check for these manually as you read through your first draft, after you do any revisions, and again when you read your final draft.
6. Identify Your Habits
Writers can develop bad grammar habits over the years, often without even realizing it. There are many different kinds of grammatical errors including run-on sentences, overused clichés, passive voice, overuse of adverbs, etc.
Common mistakes such as missing commas, capitalization, or word repetition will be picked up by grammar check apps. But many of us have some other bad grammar habits that weaken our writing and make our content average rather than amazing. It helps to know what your habits are so you can watch for them. To give you an idea of what mistakes are more commonly made, read our article on Common Mistakes and Spell Check Mistakes.
7. Pay for an Editor
What if writing grammatically correct is just something that you don’t get or don’t want to take the time to learn? If you have the financial resources, you can pay an expert to fix your grammar before you submit or publish your written content. If paying a professional to edit your grammar isn’t in the budget, find someone in your family or circle of friends who is a grammar whiz and barter with them to check your grammar.
There aren’t just one of these suggestions that will make you the perfect grammarian. But if you take the time to do your research to find a grammar check app that works for you and put in the time and effort to complete manual grammar checking, you will reap the benefits with improved grammar in your written content.