Choose Your English Usage Sites With Care

One of the most popular topics on the web is that of English grammar and usage, but not all of the “experts” out there know what they’re talking about.

To give you an idea of the sites that offer advice on English, here are the hits I got when I Googled the following terms:

English Grammar: 31,100,000
English writing tips: 12,600,000
English vocabulary: 20,200,000
English Usage: 119,000,000
Correct English: 98,600,000

A lot of them are excellent sites offering accurate information. Some of them are not so reliable. Some examples of unreliable information or inappropriate expression I’ve seen on some of these sites:

• incorrect definition of “passive voice”
• misspellings of common words
• incorrect pronoun use
• rabid denunciations of words or constructions that are not particularly objectionable
• teaching suggestions that can do more harm than good
• really angry tirades against English spelling that seem to regard the historical development of the    language as a sinister plot against humanity
• attacks on the intelligence of the poor mortals who persist in using constructions the writer       dislikes

Scarily enough, parents can’t even rely on the biggest, most respected and influential organizations to give consistently good advice. The International Reading Association is a staunch defender of the “look/guess” reading instruction that cripples thousands of children every year. The NTCE (National Council of Teachers of English) discourages the practice of teaching formal grammar as a foundation for writing.

Shop around before settling on your favorite English reference sites. Get acquainted with the AmericanEnglishDoctor, a site dedicated to explaining the basics of literacy without the use of jargon or ridicule.

One Response

  1. Why did I discontinue my membership with the NCTE? Simple. The organization doesn’t support grammar instruction. Without a good understanding of grammar, a writer cannot evaluate the effectiveness of his writing, does not possess the terminology to express (or understand) what is occurring in his sentences, and cannot use critical mental tools to apply editing strategies. Then again, most NCTE members also cannot do these.

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