Story Thread
Diary of An English Major: Ch. 2 Returning to Handwritten Letters

By Shannon Hanrahan  •  April 15, 2015

This article belongs to a 2 part series.

  1. Diary of An English Major: Ch. 1 Cleaning Up Texting
  2. Diary of An English Major: Ch. 2 Returning to Handwritten Letters

As the resident English major, I am back to help keep your writing and grammar skills on track. We started off going over a few simple, yet common mistakes that show up everywhere you look, especially in those pesky little texts. Hopefully you have already started your challenge of using perfect grammar in your text messages for one full week. I have even been challenging myself to do the same. Since you are already working on the modern way of communicating, why not go old school and bring back good ole’ fashion letter writing.

Since we covered the easy zingers, why don’t we go over a few others that tend to get people tripped up during longer forms of writing? We have already reviewed Grammarly.com and using it as one of your steps during your grammar check. In addition, their browser extension will hopefully be reminding of your mistakes when posting online, so that you can not only fix them, but also learn a little something as you go. Don’t forget to check out what Grammarly promo codes we have to get it at any even better price! In addition to using this program, here are a few more rules that you should try to follow when you are writing:

The Oxford Comma: 

The Oxford Comma: There are several different writing styles used on a daily basis, therefore causing a change in the way that we use our commas. Well, I am still a die-hard oxford comma, user. So what is the oxford comma, also know as the serial comma, exactly? It is the use of commas when a series of 3 or more is present in a sentence. Meaning you would put a comma after each word you are referencing in your sentence.

An example of the oxford comma: I want to visit Australia, Figi, and Thailand next summer.

*Notice how I put a comma between each location; that is the oxford comma.

the_oxford_comma

The Semicolon:

Knowing when to use a semicolon is not as confusing as you think. It is a great way to connect two independent related clauses. The sentences must be able to stand-alone on their own first and can just as easily be separated with a period if you chose to do so. Using a semicolon helps the reader flow, as it does not cause as abrupt of a stop between the two clauses as a period does.

An example of a semicolon: My dog’s name is Chloe; she is a 13 years old black lab mix.

*A semicolon is often used to correct a comma splice, which is when two independent clauses are just joined with a comma making it similar to a run on sentence. By adding a semicolon, you are breaking the thoughts up appropriately.

An example of a comma splice: The dog went for a long walk, the dog drank water.

You can see that the sentences are related to one another but do not blend together correctly. You can use a period, add an appropriate conjunction, or add a semicolon.

Using a period: The dog went for a long walk. The dog drank water.
Using a conjunction: The dog went for a long walk, and the dog drank water.
Using a semicolon: The dog went for a long walk; the dog drank water.

Passive Voice:

This one is a little trickier to explain because it is not always incorrect to use, but the active version is viewed better in the grammar world. So what exactly is passive voice? It is when the subject of your sentence is being acted upon. Passive voice can be identified by looking if the verb phrase in the sentence is using a form of be, meaning am, is, was, were, are, or been, or if the sentence includes the use of “by the” at the end. I was always taught to test my sentence for passive voice by seeing if I could end it with “by my grandmother”.

An example:

Passive voice: The dog was fed by my grandmother.
Active voice: My grandmother fed the dog.

These are just a few more of the common mistakes that I see in people’s writing, that they can easily avoid. By slowing down and watching what you are writing, your grammar will look superb.

Handwritten Letters

Now that you have these grammar tricks all figured out, show them off with personalized letters and cards to your friends and loved ones. A great savings trick is to make your own cards for people’s birthdays and for the holidays. Not only is it a gift on its own, but you can also reuse items from around the house instead of spending $6 on a store bought card. Pinterest is a great place for DIY ideas for your card making dreams. I personally love making picture collage cards for my friends. We have been sending handmade cards since we left for college, and I still have every last one of them.

If DIYing isn’t your thing, then you can always start a stationery collection. Typically buying packs of cards end up being cheaper than individually purchasing each time you want to send something out. I love picking up packs whenever I catch a sale, typically from TJMax, but I am truly always on the hunt. I probably have 10 different sets of stationery in my apartment that I pick and choose from throughout the year to send off to people.

Kate Spade is one of my favorite brands for stationery because they are in pretty colors, have cute sayings, and are just simply timeless. You will never feel like you need to get rid of your Kate Spade cards quickly due to the fear of them “going out of style”. Of course, I can’t promise you won’t want to send them all off immediately to show off your find to everyone you know.

kate_spade_stationary

You can also digitally make cards with companies like Snapfish, and then add personalized written messages once you receive your cards. This is especially helpful for holidays and events such as birthdays and Graduation.

Taking a step back from technology every once and a while is good for the soul. So while you are using Grammarly for your online work, you can practice what you are learning with your family and friends through lovely handwritten messages. Plus, you get the added benefit of gaining a pen pal! Who doesn’t love getting something in the mail other than a solicitation or a bill?


In this Story Thread: Diary of An English Major: Ch. 2 Returning to Handwritten Letters

  1. Diary of An English Major: Ch. 1 Cleaning Up Texting
  2. Diary of An English Major: Ch. 2 Returning to Handwritten Letters

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Shannon Hanrahan Shannon Hanrahan Shannon is a LA transplant from Philadelphia and a social media junkie. When she is not Pinteresting or Instagraming away, she enjoys eating dessert first, traveling to new places, and being a self-proclaimed DIY expert (aka HGTV addict).


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