Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

You'll get fun and friendly doses of writing advice in three short chunks: a Quick and Dirty Tip, a meaty middle, and a final tidbit. Grammar Girl covers everything from punctuation and grammar to style and voice. QuickandDirtyTips.com

Latest articles

779 - How You Can Help the OED. Capitalizing 'Black.' How Playwriting Techniques Can Improve Your Writing.

Imagine the bragging rights: The OED needs your help antedating words. Why you should capitalize "Black." How playwriting techniques can improve your writing. Read the transcripts: OED. Black. Playwriting. OED Antedating Link: public.oed.com/appeals/oed-antedatings Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. ...

778 - Do We Say 'Red Skies at Night, Sailor's Delight' Because of the Saharan Dust Plumes? Also, 'Yoiks!'

The Saharan dust plumes can make the sky red, but they aren't the source of the old saying "Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies in the morning, sailor take warning." That comes from clouds! Also, we talk about which came first: "yikes" or "yoiks." Read the transcripts: Red Skies. Yoiks. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where...

777 - How to Write Fight Scenes (and How to Get Started as a Fiction Editor)

Fiction editor Joshua Essoe gives his best tips for writing fight scenes (hint: it's not about the fighting). And he describes how he got his first editing gig, which has led to a solid career as a freelance fiction editor. Get Joshua's book, Essoe's Guides to Writing: Action Sequences. Read the transcript. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show...

776 - Why a Detective Searched for 'Clews' in a 1929 Novel. ‘Systemic’ or ‘Systematic’?

Our writer was surprised when he came across "clew" instead of "clue" in a detective novel from 1929, and the explanation includes a great story about the origin of the word "clue." Also, people have been wondering about the difference between "systematic" and "systemic." They come from the same root, but have subtle differences in meaning.  Don't get...

775 - Why We Talk About 'Bad Apples.' 'A Few' Versus 'a Couple'

We started to wonder why people seem to forget the second half of the saying about bad apples. Plus, we settle a dispute about the difference between "a couple" and "a few." Read the transcripts: Bad Apples. A Couple and a Few. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. Subscribe to the newsletter for...

774 - Roy Peter Clark on Civic Clarity

Roy Peter Clark has been teaching writing at the Poynter Institute since 1977 and regularly offers up some of the best writing advice I see. Today, we talked about  Writing differently during the pandemic Living up to your duty as a writer to achieve civic clarity Creating his new book, "Murder Your Darlings" Learning that one of his...

773 - Postal Zones. Reenter. Bougie.

How postal zones led to ZIP codes. Why I like to put a hyphen in "re-enter." How "bougie," which today has a negative connotation, came from an older word that meant simply "middle class." Read the transcripts: ZIP Codes. Re-enter. Bougie. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. Subscribe to the newsletter for...

772 - The History of ZIP Codes and Addresses (Plus How to Write Them)

If you've ever wondered how to capitalize 'ZIP Code' (or is that 'ZIP code' or 'zip code'?), this one is for you. Plus, I have an interview with Deirdre Mask about this history and importance of addresses in general. It's fascinating! Read the transcripts: ZIP Codes. Deirdre Mask Interview. Links mentioned in the podcast: ESRI Tapestry. Missing...

771 - Writing Lessons from Bad Job Applications

Our guest, Lindsay McMahon of the All Ears English podcast, recently hired and now shares the lessons she learned going through a lot of bad résumés and cover letters. Read the transcripts: Dos and Don'ts for Job Applications. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. Subscribe to the newsletter for...

770 - 'Muslim' or 'Moslem'? 'Fishfolk'? 'Fishist'? What Is the Gender-Neutral Term for 'Fisherman'?

Why do we use the new spelling "Muslim" and not the older spelling "Moslem" anymore? Also, we talk about AP Stylebook updates and end up on a fun tangent about a gender-neutral term for "fisherman." Read the transcripts: Muslim. AP Style Updates. Fisherman. Use the hashtag #WhereIListen to show me where you listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. Subscribe...

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