Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Hosted ByMignon Fogarty

Five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing and feed your love of the English language. Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips podcast.


All Episodes

Exploring the Language of ‘Dune’: An Interview with Kevin J. Anderson and Scott Brick

994. This week, I sat down with the prolific “Dune” author Kevin J. Anderson and the famed “Dune” narrator Scott Brick to explore the language challenges in the “Dune” series. Learn how Kevin and Scott navigated Frank Herbert’s original vocabulary, stayed true to the cultural influences of the names and terms, and created an extensive pronunciation guide. Whether you’re a longtime fan or are new to the series, you’ll love Kevin and Scott’s stories about the language of “Dune” and its quirky history.

The power of sign language in ‘Dune.’ The words we use for dad. Chee

993. This week, we cover the strategic use of sign language by the Bene Gesserit in the ‘Dune’ movies, including its importance in covert communication. Then, we look at the many words for ‘father’ and their historical and linguistic significance, from early baby talk to more formal terms for adults.

The crossword craze — now and then — with Ben Zimmer

994. It’s been 100 years since the crossword puzzle took America by storm in 1924. This week, Ben Zimmer tells us the little-known story of how this humble word game launched major publishing empires and examines the public’s polarized reactions at the time.

From ‘dog’ to ‘hot dog.’ The ‘audience of one’ trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.

991. This week, we trace the origin and meaning of the word “dog,” from its mysterious beginning to its current use in phrases like “hot dog” and “hair of the dog.” Then we go through the “audience of one” concept, which involves tailoring content to a single, imagined recipient; and we look at how this approach can make your writing more understandable and engaging.

Why is this a question? with Paul Anthony Jones

990. Have you ever wondered why English doesn’t have gender like Spanish and French? Which languages are the hardest to learn (and why)? And why a Q is always followed by a U? We have the answers to those questions and more this week from Paul Anthony Jones, author of “Why is this a question?”

What is a Word? Target moments.

989. What is a word? Does “that’s” count as one word or two? In this excerpt from Paul Anthony Jones’ new book “Why Is This a Question,” we look at how things like plurals, compound words, and contractions make defining the word “word” a tricky exercise.

How a special dictionary kept soldiers connected during WWII, with Peter Sokolowski

988. Peter Sokolowski, an editor at Merriam-Webster, goes through the fascinating history of the Armed Services Editions, a series of books published during World War II for distribution among the troops. We look at the special problems of wartime publishing, the collaborative efforts among publishers, and the lasting influence of these books on the publishing landscape.

Why some sentences have double subjects. The story behind the old F-like letter S. Schwen schwen on dill.

987. This week, we look at why people sometimes double their subjects, writing sentences such as “John, he bought a car,” and when it’s OK (and not OK) to do so. Plus, we talk about the medial S, a strange F-like letter that makes an S-sound and shows up in old documents. We look at how it came to be, its role in English typography, and what made it finally go away.

Efficiency hacks for writers and editors with Erin Brenner

985. Erin Brenner, author of “The Chicago Guide for Freelance Editors,” shares time-saving tips including the best practices for using Word, creating macros, and using automation tools like Zapier. You’ll also learn about starting and growing a freelance business, including how to figure out what to charge, how to make ends meet at the beginning, and how to handle time management once your business starts to succeed.

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