I’ve found some wonderful free grammar resources to share from my friend Ellen at Grammar Lion, which you’ll find listed below. As a freelance developmental editor and line editor, I work with a lot of writers. Many of them have problems with grammar and punctuation and I explain that they will definitely need to hire a copyeditor and proofreader for their final draft.
Some of my clients have grammar struggles due to learning disabilities, or maybe English isn’t their first language. For others, grammar doesn’t come as naturally to them as the creative part of writing a book. They might have errors in every line of the manuscript, or they may just need to brush up on certain rules such as when to use a comma and how to punctuate dialogue. For many of them, high school English class was a long time ago.
While I do light copyediting on my clients’ manuscripts, my focus is on developmental and line editing. There’s no sense fixing all the commas and run-on sentences when the manuscript needs structural rewrites as all those little changes will become obsolete. I will never specialize in copyediting or proofreading as in all honesty, I don’t like it. I find it tedious, and while I have a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style on my bookshelf, that is one monster of a book. It’s huge with small print, and I don’t enjoy hunting through it, trying to find the answer to small stylistic questions. I’d much rather brainstorm with the author on how to flesh out a character, or tinker with a sentence to make it more active and engaging.
When I work with a client who struggles with grammar and punctuation, my job as the developmental editor isn’t to fix the mistakes. Instead, my role is to point out the problems to make sure the writer is aware of it. I’ll give a few examples of how to make a sentence grammatically correct and point the client toward resources to help with their weaknesses.
Second, I recommend that these writers visit my friend Ellen Feld at Grammar Lion, the creator/instructor of online grammar refresher courses that have served over 44,000 students. She’s worn a variety of editorial hats, including newspaper reporter and copy chief, personal essayist, website reviewer, writing coach, and developmental editor. Ellen has a master’s degree in writing from the Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the children’s storybook Paragon and Jubilee.
You can find out more about her free grammar resources and paid grammar course below. While copyeditors and proofreaders may always be necessary for some authors, the more you can improve your grammar skills on your own, the better off you’ll be. Some copyeditors charge by the hour, so if you turn in a cleaner manuscript, it will lower your cost. Even if they charge a flat fee, that might be for one round of copyediting. I’ve seen manuscripts so riddled with errors that it would take multiple rounds of copyediting and proofreading to get it ready for publication. If you submit a more polished draft, you can reduce your expenses. Ellen’s courses are a great investment for writers who need to do a deep dive into grammar and punctuation or refresh their skills.
Free Grammar Resources
Grammar Lion: Comma Mini-Course (Free) – Master the comma and write more effectively starting today with this free mini-course. Don’t let this little punctuation mark slow you down. Stop random comma use and say goodbye to wasting time on comma decisions. In approximately thirty minutes, you’ll know when to say yes to a comma. You’ll also learn when to say no.
Grammar Lion Pretest (Free) – Grammar can be fun when you know the rules! Try the pretest to gauge your grammar know-how. Challenge yourself with thirty-three grammar questions.
Grammar Lion: A Grammar Refresher – (Paid) This comprehensive online course will help you navigate the linguistic twists and turns of American English grammar. Take your time and enjoy twelve weeks of learning. I have gone through the course myself, and love how Ellen includes quizzes to assess your skills and determine whether you need to continue reviewing a topic. She gives lots of examples and makes the intimidating world of grammar much easier to navigate.
If you need to review your grammar skills, start with the free comma mini-course and the pretest. You’ll be on your way to mastering grammar and punctuation in no time.
Please note that affiliate links are included in this post, so I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase, however, I’m only an affiliate for products that I recommend.
Stacy Juba, the founder of Shortcuts for Writers, is a freelance editor and online course creator who teaches authors how to simplify the self-editing process and fit their writing goals into a busy life. Her books include the Storybook Valley chick lit series and the Hockey Rivals young adult sports novels.
Sign up for her free, on-demand masterclass, How to Create Your Editing Game Plan and Fast-Track Your Book: 3 Costly Mistakes to Avoid.