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

Think faster and talk smarter. Tips from Matt Abrahams that will make you a better writer and speaker

947. Do you wish you could think on your feet faster? Well, Stanford business professor and communication expert Matt Abrahams has insights on having great off-the-cuff conversations that are also surprisingly helpful for writers. Matt shares the secrets of chunking when you’re writing, tailoring your message for different audiences, and using structures to guide your thinking. Also, as a comfortable speaker but nervous writer, Matt shares his tips on how to get that difficult first draft down on the page. I found his new book, “Think Faster, Talk Smarter,” to be incredibly helpful, so I knew I had to get him to share his expertise with you!

Did Disney nail the pronunciation of ‘Caribbean’? How to write equations. Chuther.

946. It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, which brings to mind “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but you can actually pronounce “Caribbean” at least two different ways. Did Disney get it right or wrong? We turn to history for the answer and discover a second fascinating linguistics story along the way! Plus, we answer a listener’s question about how to write equations.

Asking experts about language (interview with Steve Kleinedler, former of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel)

945. What was the famous Usage Panel from the American Heritage Dictionary and how did the panel’s opinions influence dictionary entries? Steve Kleinedler, who managed the Usage Panel for many years, joins us this week with all kinds of fascinating inside-the-dictionary stories.

When you shouldn’t ‘write tight.’ ‘Behead’ versus ‘decapitate.’ YesHony.

944. Today, we untangle the often confusing web of writing styles. We’ll explore the benefits of loose writing in fiction, creative writing, and academic writing, and how you can vary your sentence length to create a rhythm that resonates with your readers. Plus, we use the difference between “behead” and “decapitate” as a sneaky way to talk about the “be-” and “de-” prefixes in a way every word nerd will love.

Say hwat?! ‘Anxious’ versus ‘eager.’ Pink stein.

943. Join us for a fascinating romp through the evolution of phrases like “you know,” “right?” and “I mean” from Beowulf’s time to today. Plus, we look at how people’s feelings about using “anxious” to mean “eager” are changing, and how that can affect your writing.

The wonders of the ‘a-‘ prefix in English. ‘Personal’ versus ‘personnel.’

942. We’re diving deep into the chameleon-like nature of the “a-” prefix, tracing its journey from Latin, where it often started out as “ad-,” to its function as a preposition in French, and its transformative role in Greek that gifts English words like “atypical” and “asymmetrical.” You’ll be wowed by the versatility of the seemingly humble “a-” prefix as we unveil its covert presence in words like “atom” and its power in creating modern English words like “asexual.” Then, we explore the difference between the words “personal” and “personnel” and give you a tip for getting the spelling right every time.

Hilarious typos (and how to avoid them). Why do we ‘take’ a walk?

941. Whether you’ve been betrayed by autocorrect or your own fingers, we’ve all made typos. But we have tricks you may not have thought of for fighting back. Plus, we look at why we say we “take” a walk and “give” a presentation, even though we aren’t taking or giving anything.

Have you ridden an acoustic bike lately? Write it tight.

940. Pork bacon, manual transmissions, and acoustic guitars: retronyms help us describe the original form of something that has now become a class. But sometimes, retronyms go even further. This week, we discover surprising ways “acoustic” is filling this role. Plus, learn what makes your writing “tight.”

Did you know that on US Army bases, soldiers get a tattoo every day? Keep writing.

939. When I say the word “tattoo,” you probably think of body art, but “tattoo” has another meaning that’s related to a famous Edinburgh festival that is happening this month. Plus, we look at why you should never stop writing (and reading).

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