Passing on the editing course

I’ve decided against taking the Berkeley editing course I wrote about earlier (internal link); I am asking for a refund.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been furiously studying English grammar, trying to get ready for the Berkeley study program. I’ve learned that I don’t need a copyediting course, I need to take basic grammar lessons first. I’ve been stuck for a week on subject-verb agreement with little progress. And something as simple as routinely identifying verbs in complex sentences eludes me. But back to subject-verb agreement. Take a look at this problem:

Basic Principle: Singular subjects need singular verbs; plural subjects need plural verbs.


Did you know the word ‘hopes’ is singular? Nor did I. (Or is it, “Neither did I?”) Before I can reach the matter of subject-verb agreement I’ll need to figure out a simple and instant solution to determining tenses. Only after I can confidently say what verbs are singular and which ones are plural will I be able to move on.

I did enroll in an on-line grammar course which I am taking right now (internal link). Unfortunately, the lessons take four or five days to be graded so my progress through the course is very slow.

The good news is that I have six or seven current grammar books and that I am thinking about grammar, studying it on my own, and looking up troublesome word constructions more than I ever did before. I am much more aware. And that has to be good.


The grammar books have arrived

Most of the English grammar books I ordered have arrived and I am starting to go through them. On Monday I’ll begin the on-line course I signed up for (internal link); right now I am working through a book called Better Grammar in 30 Minutes a Day. Although I am having difficulty with the exercises, even with identifying verbs, I scored a minor victory this morning when I noticed a typographical error in the book. Click on the image to see how they wrote “Principle” in the heading instead of “Principal.” So, although the lessons are difficult, I think finding this error shows I am closely reading the material.

I’m also finding support in my struggle with grammar from grammarians. They, too, wrestle with a subject so vast as to appear overwhelming. Robert Burchfield, in Unlocking the English Language, writes: “An entirely adequate description of English grammar is still a distant target and at present a seemingly an unreachable one, the complications being what they are.”

July 19, 2015 UPDATE: This wonderful page (external link) explains the difficulty with finding verbs in sentences and then gives great advice on how to find them.













July 20, 2015 UPDATE: Found another typo in another English book. The word should be “your.”