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How I Learned Grammar

SondraC shares her personal story on learning grammar and improving her rating.

My name is SondraC. I am a 70-year-old widow and a mother of three. I have five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter who is four. At the age of 63, I enrolled in college, intent on earning my degree. I graduated with honors. 

I have been writing poetry and prose for the better part of my life. I rarely wrote articles, so my knowledge of proper grammar usage became vague. I had been writing “How to” articles for various sites on the Internet. It became boring and I needed a change.

My lifelong desire was to become a freelance writer. A friend of mine mentioned Textbroker. I immediately applied, and I was excited when I was accepted as a freelance writer.

At first it was a bit confusing. I did not know what format to use or how to write about a title. Moreover, I could not find a guide that gave me the information. I asked a few questions and learned how to write an article that would be accepted.

Although clients accepted all of my articles, I never was able to get a rating of more than 3 stars. I had not a clue what my problem was.

I began getting more than a hint when I started reading the editors’ comments about my writing. It did not take me long to realize that it was my poor grammar that was keeping me from getting the 4 stars. No matter how hard I tried, it appeared that my fate was sealed. The way things were going, it seemed that I was destined to stay at 3 stars. I got mad!

I got mad at the editors who consistently were rating my articles lower than I would have liked. I felt that I did not deserve the lower rating since I never had a client complain. I was upset with Christina, who insisted that the grammar had to be totally correct–down to the dots and dashes. Quite honestly, it upset me that the site demanded perfect grammar, even for lower paying articles. However, rules are rules and I had to obey them, whether I liked it or not.

I became extremely frustrated! If I couldn’t advance, how was I going to make more money? I felt as if I were caught in a trap. Frankly speaking, I was seriously considering leaving. In fact, I took a few days off. However, I began to realize that I missed the writing, the editors and the friendly atmosphere of the site, and I returned to write. 

But I returned with a different attitude. I would not allow the improper grammar to upset me. I enjoyed writing and earning money. Therefore, I decided to learn how, when and where to apply a comma. This is exactly how I did it.

I read the Textbroker Blog. There are many articles written by other writers and editors that helped me learn. I followed by searching the Internet for sites that not only taught grammar but also contained grammar questions and answers. I was determined to learn!

These are some of the sites that helped me the most.

Purdue's OWL Exercises
UNC's Comma Sheet
Punctuation Made Simple: The Semi-Colon
Grammar Book Tests

Take all the Grammar Book tests. This is the best way to learn. I kept taking the tests over and over until I get 100% and learned how, where and why to apply a comma to the articles I wrote.

I printed any information I felt would help me to learn.

I stapled them according to content and placed them on my desktop for easy access.
I referred to them as I edited. I read them when I had my morning coffee or any time during the day.
I did not allow them to just sit on the desk! 
I added notes to the papers when I found further helpful information. 

Then, I did the following:

1. Learned the FANBOYS rules by heart! This was my first step to achieving 4 stars. I studied them in my sleep. Knowing the rules and how and when to apply them is the first step to moving up.

2. Took the grammar tests daily until I no longer made as many errors.

3. Searched for sites that taught grammar to first-grade children. The rules were explained in a childlike manner, but they were easier to learn.

4. Did not edit as I wrote. I found it easier to write a rough draft first and then edit. Most of the time, I rewrote an article a few times before submitting it.

5. Never rushed while writing an article. If I only wrote one article a day–so be it. I would write more after I learned how to edit. 

I stopped griping and getting mad. I made up my mind to learn, and that’s what did it! I was not shy about asking Christina, Keira, or any other editor a question or two about my placement of a comma or other grammatical questions. No one ever refused. It was not long before I gained confidence, and I found editing to be much easier. 

I placed my data papers on top of my desk. I wrote an article and then edited it according to the grammar data on each page of paper. No more guessing! Sure, It took a bit longer to submit the article. I must admit that it was hard work. However, in the long run, it was worth the effort. I got a 4 star! I was elated. Sadly, this feeling was short lived.

The next set of articles I submitted were again rated with 3 stars. Where did I go wrong?

I took a new direction. I began to read magazine articles, newspaper reviews and well-written articles from sites like and other sites of that level. I wanted to learn where they placed a comma and how they wrote their sentences. 

Suddenly, it occurred to me. I was learning “how” without understanding “why.” This was what was hindering me from grasping the editing concept. Although I had studied, I had to make certain that I was placing a comma where it belonged while I was still writing. 

Getting editing corrections two weeks after submitting an article was too late to help me. I needed someone I could question before submitting the article. I needed a one-on-one, student-teacher type relationship. 

I asked the Textbroker editors for help. When I was in doubt about where to place the comma, I sent email out to an editor. If I was correct, I received a congratulations. If I was wrong, I received an explanation of the changes I had to make to correct it.

It worked like a charm!

Before long, everything I had studied about grammar began to fall into place. I finally understood where and when to put a comma. I was on my way to getting 4 stars, and I felt it.

This was the start of my getting 4 stars on my articles. I thanked the editors for their help and found editing became easier.

However, I still edit carefully and slowly. It would be too easy to start getting 3 stars again.

I now receive 4 stars on all of my articles, which makes me extremely happy. I find that I can read many Internet articles and recognize when the writer has made grammar errors. They stick out like a sore thumb now, where before, they looked as if they were well-written.

I have more confidence in my writing. The articles are easier to write, and I write them much faster than before I had learned how to use grammar. It is an amazing change in my writing ability. I even wrote a letter to President Obama regarding a policy that he is considering that I do not approve of.

Because I worked hard and had the proper help when needed, I learned how to use proper grammar.

Always check and double check your spelling by using a spelling checker.
It is a good idea to use a thesaurus checker. This keeps you from using the same words over and over again. 

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20801 26. October 2013 - 12:31

This is good information, writing styles have changed over time and I wouldn't have thought about this.


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