Top Online Resources for Learning English Grammar
December 19, 2017All, English Learning, English Grammar, Writing in English
Learning a new language takes sustained effort and practice, especially when it comes to grammar. English seems to have so many rules and exceptions that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Luckily, there are numerous resources available online—and usually for free—that can help you improve your English grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Online tools for learning grammar are generally divided into three categories: reference guides, blogs, and online classes. These resources also come in a variety of media formats, including written guides, videos, and podcasts, to address different learning styles and maximize your chance of success. Check out some options from the list below and see which ones work best for you!
1) Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Run by Purdue University, the Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers online resources for all levels of English writers. American college students often reference Purdue OWL for style guides and different citations manuals such as MLA and APA, but the website is also a rich resource for language learners. Used by ESL students and business professionals alike, Purdue OWL includes general writing advice, subject-specific writing resources, and guides to grammatical topics such as pronouns, prepositions, and punctuation. For ESL learners, Purdue OWL also offers broader cultural advice through articles such as “US Higher Education: A Cultural Introduction,” “Key Concepts for Writing in North American Colleges,” and “Writing for a North American Business Audience.” Although most English learners use the written guides provided on the Purdue OWL website, you can also watch a series of videos that explain grammatical concepts.
Based on The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, GrammarBook.com markets itself as “Your No. 1 Source for Grammar and Punctuation.” Divided into sections such as “English Rules,” “Quizzes,” and “Grammar Blog,” the website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. The “English Rules” section of the website is a reference guide that offers brief lessons on topics like subject-verb agreement, punctuation rules, and capitalization. You can also test your knowledge at the end of each lesson by taking one of the free quizzes included on the website, or by purchasing a subscription to receive additional quizzes. If you prefer to watch your lessons rather than read a guide, GrammarBook offers short videos (usually about a minute long) on English usage. In addition, the website’s Grammar Blog offers commentary about language trends and using grammar in the real world—great for reading comprehension and understanding why what you are learning matters! If you prefer reading a print edition of a reference guide, you can also buy The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation through the website.
3) Grammarly Handbook
The Grammarly Handbook provides a series of brief guides to questions about grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and style. Like Purdue OWL and GrammarBook, Grammarly is targeted for all writers, not only for English language learners. The Grammarly Handbook is a comprehensive guide to the most common grammar questions and mistakes. What distinguishes Grammarly from other online resources is its use of charts to show verb conjugation and present grammatical concepts in a new visual way. Grammarly also has a particularly detailed section on punctuation, including rules for apostrophes, commas, hyphens and dashes, quotation marks. Even if you prefer one of the other online resource guides for day-to-day reference, you can sign up for Grammarly’s weekly email list of grammar tips and learn something new while riding the subway or drinking your coffee in the morning.
4) 5 Minute English
Like the name suggests, 5 Minute English contains a series of short lessons for English learners to gradually improve their language skills. Though not as thorough as Purdue OWL, GrammarBook, and Grammarly, 5 Minute English has a grammar section on its website, in addition to exercises for improving reading comprehension, vocabulary, listening, pronunciation, and knowledge of slang/idioms. The main advantage of this website is its brevity—each lesson is extremely short and can be learned in a few minutes. Each mini-lesson has a brief explanation about a grammatical topic, followed by a few questions for practice. Unlike some of the other options on this list, 5 Minute English only comes in a written format and has fewer visual aids.
5) Kaplan blog
Compared to reference guides, blogs are usually more conversational in tone and are not necessarily organized by category (grammar, punctuation, usage, etc.). Written for international students, the Kaplan Blog is a website intended to help students learn grammar and situational English. Using charts, images, and detailed explanations, the blog focuses on specific grammar lessons for each post (“Affect vs. Effect,” “Everything You Need to Know About Comparative Adjectives,” etc.) rather than providing a comprehensive list of rules. Thus, the Kaplan Blog is a great resource to follow, but might not be your first choice if you need to check for a specific grammar rule. In addition, the blog offers advice on using English for travel, academics, and career development, making it a valuable resource for English language learners.
6) Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips
Founded by writer and teacher Mignon Fogerty (a.k.a. “Grammar Girl”), the Quick and Dirty Tips website features a series of podcasts and blog posts about different grammar topics. If you don’t have the time to sit at a computer and read a grammar lesson, the podcasts (available on iTunes and YouTube) are particularly helpful. Grammar Girl’s conversational tone is a pleasure to read and hear, and thus her lessons tend to be more memorable than some of the reference guides listed above. As with the Kaplan blog, you may have to do some searching if you are looking to learn a specific grammar rule or concept. If you prefer to have a physical book handy, you can also buy Mignon Fogerty’s Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.
7) English Teacher Melanie
Like Grammar Girl, English Teacher Melanie is a blog series designed to teach English grammar. However, English Teacher Melanie is more specifically written for English language learners and has additional sections on listening and vocabulary. Though the grammar and vocabulary posts are helpful, the best part of the website is the section on study tips and the free e-book titled “7 Secrets to Better English.” These tips can help you absorb more of what you study and can be applied to any educational resource you use.
8) Universal Class
If you need a class format to feel more motivated to study, consider taking a course through Universal Class. These online courses feature a real instructor, multiple exams and writing assignments, and the opportunity to earn continuing education credits. You also have the advantage of taking it by yourself, learning at your own pace without feeling the pressure of being with other students. Some course titles include “Writing Basics 101: Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Writing Structures,” “Punctuation and Grammar 101,” ABCs of English Grammar,” and “ESL Basic Grammar.” Tuition for Universal Class courses typically range from $75 to $100, and you must complete your course within six months. If your local library has a subscription to Universal Class, you might be able to take a few courses for free.
Tailored for business professionals, Lynda.com is an offshoot of LinkedIn that offers online professional development classes, including tutorials for English grammar. Lynda.com has a video format rather than a blog or guide and may be more helpful for visual learners. While Universal Class charges by the course, Lynda.com has a monthly subscription fee of $19.99 for the basic version and $29.99 for the premium version, giving you access to more than 5,000 online courses. You can also sign up for a 10-day free trial. If you intend to take multiple courses in a short period of time, Lynda may be the better option.
Freerice.com isn’t technically a teaching tool, but it is a good way to practice the grammar and vocabulary you have learned from other sites. Freerice is an educational and charity website that offers quizzes on various academic topics, including English vocabulary and English grammar. For each correct answer, Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme to end hunger. The quizzes show one multiple-choice question at a time for you to answer. Unlike other worksheets or online quizzes, you can answer as many or as few questions as you want because Freerice will show you the correct answer after each question. You can also choose the level of difficulty for each question, ranging from Level 1 (easiest) to Level 5 (hardest). If you are feeling more confident in your English skills, try switching to another topic like science or humanities to test your reading comprehension. With Freerice, you can do good when you do well.
Understanding the many rules of English grammar takes some time, but these resources can make learning fun. While you are improving your English grammar, Writersaver.co can help you catch those pesky errors in your writing and bring you closer to sounding like a native speaker.