How to use this blog

Welcome to the J-school, new international students! (And everyone else.) As you start turning in assignments and, more traumatically, getting them back, you may be finding you don’t know English as well as you thought. This blog is here to help.

English for Journalists was founded five years ago as an offshoot of my work as ESL coach. The premise is this: when I notice common errors in student work, I “harvest” examples illustrating the errors and write a post. I correct the errors and, more important, explain the reasoning behind the edits, hoping that once you understand that reasoning, you won’t repeat the errors. (Perpetrators remain anonymous; only examples of good usage have names attached.)

This is the 70th post. The previous 69 have covered grammar points ranging from articles and antecedents — two perennial trouble spots — to who versus whom and tightening. When editing student copy, I often point out a grammar problem, then link to the relevant blog post for further explanation, which you may read and digest off deadline. If you still have questions, just ask — in person, by e-mail or in a comment on the blog itself.

The blog is searchable (upper righthand corner). So if you’re having trouble keeping your prepositions straight, search for prepositions. If you don’t know the difference between affect and effect, or gerunds and infinitives, search for those; they’re all on the blog, somewhere.

English for Journalists is meant to be a supplement to your dictionary and the AP Style guide  — not a substitute. (For advice on how to use AP style as a tool in refining your English, click here.) Since it’s written as time permits, between coaching sessions and  other duties, new posts may appear spasmodically, as certain Boston Globe alumni might say. Unless a good reason to revisit a topic comes up, one post is usually enough; frankly, students (and professional writers) make the same mistakes year after year.

Finally, please contribute. Questions or comments from students, from Bloomberg’s Elena Popina, class of 2013, to Carlos Serrano, now in his victory-lap semester, have produced some of the best posts. Once again, you will be identified only with your permission. As the Social J people would say: join the conversation!







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