Guides to brush up on your grammar

Written by Chris Tapley

Clients often ask us to recommend a basic grammar guide. You know, for the colleagues who struggle with practice and practise, or your and you’re. Or for those times when the difference between a comma and a semicolon is potentially life-threatening.   

A small slip and before you know it, you’re being ridiculed on the internet. It's as easy as missing a crucial hyphen or a couple of lost commas. Meaning is a fragile thing. 

The good news: there are plenty of guides that can help you avoid these embarrassing mix-ups. We also run copywriting courses to up-skill your content team. The more complicated reality, however, is that there’s no final word on grammar. It’s constantly evolving as language-use changes around the world, especially now that so much communication happens online.

The big thing to remember is that good grammar is not about belittling lesser writers or drawing lines between right and wrong – it’s about communicating clearly and efficiently. If it’s clear, it’s probably right.

Grammar guides, recommended by writers

Instead of choosing guides that draw definitive lines on everything, we’ve picked out options that provide a solid foundation in the fundamentals. 

Take your pick of our favourites:

  1. BBC Skillswise – sort your verbs from your nouns and get a handle on good sentence structure. A solid starting point to get the most basic elements of language in order.
  2. Bristol University Grammar Guide – a lot of these guides get stuck in the abstract quicksand. Not Bristol Uni, who have provided practical examples and exercises to help you spot everything from a comma splice to a dangling participle.
  3. Grammar and Style in British English – this is one for the enthusiasts, providing a deep-dive across the full grammar spectrum. It’s probably too detailed for most, but a very good resource for trickier questions.
  4. New Hart’s Rules – beloved by professional editors the world over, this guide explains capitalisation, hyphenation, when to use italics, and other considerations of the discerning editor. 
  5. The Plain English Campaign – fighting for clear communication for over 40 years, their website is full of handy tips. There’s a grammar quiz too.
  6. UCL’s Internet Grammar of English – forget the slightly odd name and 800x600 looks – this excellent guide is perfect for beginners and more assured writers.

Next steps in content training

From the importance of punctuation, to how to write for web – and everything in between. Our copywriting training courses are perfectly tailored to suit your team and your business.