Grammar Help – Book Review


When your teen writes an essay, grammar can be either a snap or the bane of his existence. An easy guide can help out.

Two books I have used over the years to help my high school students with grammar for writing papers are Barron’s Painless Grammar and CliffsNotes Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style). I like them because they provide short, easy to use explanations and drills on most of the grammar bits that trip students up.

This is key because often students find grammar drills in school as exciting as watching paint dry but end up making the same mistakes over and over again in their writing. And most kids have some sense about where they’re guessing about grammar (i.e. comma usage). Either one of these books provides easy access to mini-lessons to help fill those gaps in their knowledge. Plus, you don’t have to be an expert on grammar yourself to help them use them.

Both books have particular strengths. Painless Grammar, part of a Barron’s series meant to make torturous subjects easier, is nice because it uses humor and a generally light approach for things like punctuation or errors in word choice. The book offers clear grammatical examples that are categorized as “wrong” and “right” or “weak” and “strong” or “clear” and “confusing.” The little quizzes after each section help drive the lessons home. Finally, you get a quiz based mobile app if you buy Painless Grammar.

If you think your teen will be put off by the goofy pictures, Writing: Grammar, Usage and Style is a solid option as well. The explanations are little more comprehensive and the tone a tad more serious. It has the same handy quizzes at the ends of sections but also includes a whole chunk on writing style, prewriting, writing, revising and editing.

I’d say go with the book that seems to fit your teen’s style.

Disclosure: Please know that these links are affiliate links and that if you end up making a purchase, I will earn a small commision, at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I have experience with both products and am recommending them because I genuinely feel that they’ll help you help your teen, not because I could make a commission.

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