English is hard

January 13, 2010

I asked my sister and father for help on a point of grammar. Each found a separate flaw in my example sentence.

Where does an adult go to improve his writing?


12 Responses to “English is hard”

  1. Neil Says:

    Sorry, was that the example sentence? It ought to be “Whither goeth”

    Read more books? Ones that aren’t computer language textbooks?

  2. aran Says:

    The sentence was from my thesis.

    I don’t believe the “read more” argument. I also don’t believe “write more.” I’ve done a lot of both. The issue is that I don’t get much feedback on either.

  3. Mike Says:

    Check some of these out:


    Particularly, the ones for native English speakers.

    Alternatively, I’m taking Gerald Penn’s course on Natural Language Processing. Our required text has a huge chunk on grammar and how the English language works…really fascinating stuff, and it makes me regret not receiving grammar training in high school.

    The text is available online for UofT students:


  4. aran Says:

    Ah, yes. Those courses focus on grammar and sentence construction. I’ve encountered their kind before. I even drank from their cup once—don’t you dare use “hopefully” to mean “I hope” around me.

    My grammar, vocabulary and usage are far from perfect, but they’re good enough. I need deeper help. How do I become more engaging and interesting to read? Funnier? How can I improve my analogies and make compelling stories? That’s where I need an expert’s feedback, and I don’t know where to get it.

  5. Mike Says:

    Ah. In that case, here are some more ideas. Not sure if they’ll interest you:



  6. aran Says:

    Actually, that might be the ticket! I enjoyed my Second City improv course. Maybe their writing courses will be as good.

  7. Ian Says:

    Maybe you need to experiment with differ kinds of writing … if you’re just writing more of the same old thing, then your style will likely not change all that much … if you experiment with other forms of writing, then that experience will bleed into your other writings and enrich them.

  8. Ella Says:

    I think you need to find your written ‘voice’. It would make your posts more interesting to read 😛

  9. aesclinn Says:

    ask your other sister.
    (just kidding). (kind of).

  10. Ian Says:

    I though of your question this morning, while reading a really badly written article. I know you read a lot, but do you ever take the time to stop and reflect on the writing style and what you liked/disliked, so you can adjust/adopt your style?

  11. Learn French? 🙂

  12. aran Says:

    @Leila: Mes troubles sont aggravées de plus en plus!

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