Grammar is an important component to communicating, whether it be verbally or through your writing. In school, it can be the difference in several grades on a paper or in a speech, and in business, it can be the difference between being hired or not. Socially, it is the secret password to the clubs inhabited by the social elite. This has been the case for centuries, so much so that it was a critical part of the Broadway play "My Fair Lady." If you feel your grammar is lacking, and you'd like to give it some polish, here are some options to upgrade your own speech and writing skills to match that of the literate elite.
Read Books. All the Time.
Books are a great way to absorb good grammar. Though the quotations inside the books may not be up to grammatical standards, as they are trying to speak like characters who may or may not know how to speak properly, pay attention to the narration. This will, if the book is published by a reputable house, certainly be edited to show correct grammar. The more you read, the more proper grammar you will be exposed to. If you don't have a lot of reading time, try listening to books on tape.
Speak With Grammarphiles
Do you have a friend who is always correcting the grammar of others? Though they may be annoying, they are also a great way to practice your grammar. People like this are often very willing to help others, and if you ask them, they can most likely point out the most common mistakes to avoid, be it double negatives, split infinitives, or ending on a preposition.
Try an Online Class:
There are a large number of classes available online to learn almost anything. If you're not sure where to begin, try starting either with one of the websites dedicated to proper grammar, or with the slough of free online classes that universities are now posting on their websites. Make certain that any class that you choose comes both from a reputable source, and comes with self-assessment quizzes in order to allow you the practice you need.
Write. Then Edit.
If you miss the romance of hand-written letters, find a pen pal. If you like the instant joy of email, find an email buddy. If you want to keep it more personal, start a journal. Whatever you decide to write, commit to writing regularly, and be sure to go over it and practice editing.