Improving Your English

Once you feel comfortable with English and can easily handle daily conversation, you’ll have to start thinking about fancier English. You’ll be able to use your advanced skills when writing an essay as part of your  school applications, when writing papers and presentations for class, and for writing detailed emails once you eventually start your professional career.

You’ll of course learn English in many different ways and in many different contexts, but for official language rules there are a few reliable, classic sources. We suggest you read them in bed while preparing to move to the USA and then again as a reference anytime you’re unsure about who vs. whom or the difference between their, they’re, and there.

Reliable, Classic Sources

The Elements of Style: Even though the first edition of this book was written decades ago, it’s still a great resource for important grammar rules, common mistakes, and general writing advice. And, fun fact, one of the authors was also the author of Charlotte’s Web!

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: This lighthearted book essentially complains that Americans and British people have lost control of proper English, and reminds us what proper English actually is.

Merriam-Webster’s Guide to Punctuation and Style: Merriam-Webster has been around in various forms as a dictionary since the early 1800s, and later published a thesaurus as well as other word-related resources. This specific guide tells you all about grammar but also gives advice about how to edit writing and format bibliographies.

Grammar Girl: If you like quick and readable articles about English, this is where you’ll want to spend your time. The website is constantly updated with blog posts and podcasts about good writing habits, grammar, and explanations of language, and is also active on social media.

Purdue University Online Writing Lab: This online resource provides all kinds of information about grammar and punctuation, types of writing, and even fonts. Though the website is officially part of Purdue University, its materials are highly regarded and are available to everyone (students get access to more personal help).