Like many professional adults, I was taught very little grammar in high school and college. I managed to earn good grades on writing assignments because I had been an avid reader from a young age; I knew what good writing sounded like, and I was able to mimic it. But when I made the decision to major in English and then to become a college English professor, I had to learn the rules of grammar, mechanics, and usage so I could teach my students how to edit their writing.
I quickly realized that a grasp of sentence structure and a mastery of the most up-to-date rules gave me three distinct advantages:
- First, confidence about the rules enables me to edit more quickly and devote more attention instead to the important issues of development and organization.
- Second, mastery of the rules means I have more tools in my writer’s toolbox. I can better control the flow of ideas and thus make my messages clearer and more compelling.
- Third, I am no longer an easy target for the grammar police—those people who delight in pointing out surface errors and who imply that our ideas are somehow less worthy because of those mistakes. It may not be fair, but it’s true that we are judged by the “correctness” of our writing.
At the heart of this course is my desire to make punctuation and usage easy to understand so that professionals, such as you, can write and edit more confidently and effectively.
I make the grammar of sentence structure easy to understand and teach you the rules you need to know to be an effective and efficient editor of your own work.
Chapter 1 Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the course! Here you will learn how the course works, and I will talk about a few broad concepts before starting to explore more narrow topics.
Chapter 2 Terms
To punctuate well, we have to be able to recognize certain grammatical constructions, especially phrases, dependent clauses, and independent clauses. We will review and practice recognizing those constructions and explore different kinds of conjunctions. This chapter also provides supplementary reviews on prepositional phrases and verbals (infinitives, gerunds, and participles) in case you’ve forgotten what they are. We’ll be using these terms throughout the course.
Chapter 3 Semicolons and Colons
We will explore the most common mistakes writers make when using colons and semicolons and learn how they differ from one another.
Chapter 4 Commas: Part I
Ever wondered when it’s appropriate to put a comma before “and” or “but” or another conjunction? Did you know that setting off a clause or phrase with commas can change the meaning of a sentence? Why is the Oxford comma such a big deal? What’s the wisdom on using commas after introductory prepositional phrases?
Chapter 5 Commas: Part II
When are commas appropriate in dates, addresses, and direct addresses? Do we always need them between words that modify the same noun? Is it ever OK to use a comma simply to make a sentence more clear?
Chapter 6 Hyphens
Hyphens and dashes are not the same: hyphens join words together, while dashes separate phrases and clauses from one another. Specific situations call for hyphens, and the rules can be complicated. (Hint: those are hyphens, not dashes, in URLs.)
Chapter 7 En Dashes and Em Dashes
Not only do dashes differ from hyphens, but we have two kinds of dashes, and they do not convey the same meaning. To further complicate the issue, word processing software programs sometimes get that distinction wrong.
Chapter 8 Parentheses
We will talk about the difference between parentheses and dashes and also address the appropriate way to punctuate with parentheses.
Chapter 9 Apostrophes
Apostrophes can be tricky. Writers often confuse plurality with possession. The situation becomes even more confusing with words that end in s, x, z, and other sibilants.
Chapter 10 Vertical Lists
Vertical (bulleted, numbered) lists must be parallel grammatically and logically, but for the purpose of this course we will focus on punctuating them appropriately. We have many choices, but there are limits.
Chapter 11 Quotation Marks
We will explore the appropriate way to punctuate with quotation marks and learn the different ways quotation marks are handled among English speakers in different parts of the world.
Chapter 12 Cumulative Review
Here we have a practice exercise to put into practice all the rules we have explored in this course.
BONUS: Each week, participants may attend a one-hour live video Q&A conference with the instructor. These live interactions distinguish Get It Write courses from others on the market and exponentially increase the value of the course without adding a penny to your cost.
All Get It Write courses are approved for continuing education credit by the National Verbatim Recorders Association (NVRA).
"A gifted lecturer who delivers content in an interactive and comprehensive fashion, Nancy has mastered the art of engaged presentations designed to enhance the writing skills of her audience."
–The Hon. Justice Gillian Lucky, High Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Chair, Judicial Education Institute
"The program is outstanding. Nancy makes complex topics accessible with her clear explanations and helpful materials. Her interactive program and lively presentation style (and sense of humor) make learning easy and enjoyable."
–Margaret Perry, Senior State and Federal Appellate Attorney
"As a freelancer I have often consulted books and websites for grammatical advice. Dr. Tuten is the best I've found. She is the only one who anticipated my questions with straightforward answers and clear examples. I look forward to consulting Get It Write Online every time I am confronted by a grammatical quandary."
– Walter N., Freelance Writer
Who is this course for?
Anyone wanting to produce more polished and professional writing. Some of our students include judges, attorneys, bankers, federal and state employees, court reporters/recorders.
What if I know absolutely no grammar at all?
The instruction assumes that students know very little grammar and includes definitions of terms and explanations to simplify complex topics.
Is there a specific start date or can I enroll at any time?
You may enroll at any time and work at your own pace.
How much time will it take to work through this course?
The entire course will take approximately 10 hours to work through, and you can work at your own pace. The lessons are bite sized and you can easily fit them into your schedule.
Will I have access to the instructor or a community?
Yes! That’s one of the perks of enrolling in this course. You get exclusive access to our private Facebook community for learners where Dr. Nancy Tuten (instructor) conducts weekly live Q&A’s.
"Nancy (Tuten) makes what could be a dry subject very interesting. She works to make the content relevant. The course was excellent."
–Samantha Williams, Director of Training and Development, S.C. Department of Public Safety
"My entire office should enroll in this workshop. I wish I had taken it sooner. In the past, some of this information was difficult for me to understand, but not today."
–Bonnie Ziegler, Personnel Services, S.C. Budget and Control Board Internal Operations
"This course was precisely what I needed. I cannot recall a single issue we covered that will not be extremely helpful. I now realize how much help I need to be effective in my written communication."
- Fred Lancaster, National Account Manager, United Parcel Service