Using the NY Times as a Grammar Learning Tool

The folks at Grammarlogues have a guest post up in the NY Times’ Learning Blog: 5 Easy Ways to Learn Grammar With The New York Times. I totally do this! I’ve done this for years, actually. My own version involves not so much practicing, as it does utilizing the NY Times when I’m in a must-know-now situation.

While I seem to be able to teach myself any subject an institution of higher learning can throw at me (including calculus, which I’m sure will come in handy when the apocalypse comes), I have never found a grammar how-to manual that explains the concept and then shows you several examples so you can understand how it works in actual situations. I need to see the example if the concept is hazy or has too many variables.

What I really require is a university English department to have a 24-hour help desk so I can hand over my sentence and have a professional help me to understand why the correct form is right, and why my version is the equivalent of a six-year-old making “soup” by dumping every spice in the kitchen cabinet into the bathtub.

When the manuals and the online grammar help sites fail me, I turn to the NY Times. I Google “NY Times” and the pertinent portion of the sentence that’s stumping me. The NY Times is the well-edited-newspaper version of an infinite number of monkeys whanging away at typewriters: eventually one of those monkeys is going to hammer out Shakespeare, word for word. Somewhere in the NY Times’ archives there’s a sentence chunk exactly like mine (only with correct grammar and punctuation).

Author’s note: this post was reprinted in the Education section of the NY Times Online.

Posted by Alexa Harrington

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