Grammar & Reference Guides

Grammar Guides

  • Grammar Girl: Witty and enjoyable podcasts on grammar topics!  Hosted by Mignon Fogarty, a former magazine and technical writer, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing offers writers and readers advice for facing those pressing grammar questions.

Specific Grammar Issues

  • Passive and Active Voice (Duke): This Writing Studio handout helps you make conscious decisions about choosing active or passive voice in your writing.
  • Rules for Comma Usage (Duke): If comma usage is one of the banes of your writing existence, then this Writing Studio handout is for you.
  • Pronouns (Duke): A short guide to matching pronouns clearly with their antecedents, from Duke's Writing Studio.
  • Sentence Fragments and Run-Ons (Duke): This handout explains the nature of these sentence-level problems and shows how to avoid them in your writing.
  • Count and Non-count Nouns (Duke): A short guide from Duke’s Writing Studio to help you navigate noun variants.

Reference Resources

  • Merriam Webster Online: A quick and easy online dictionary and thesaurus. Other site features include a Word of the Day–which, upon request, can be sent to your inbox daily–and an assortment of Word Games that require a range of skills, from encyclopedic to etymological.
  • Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A database of famous statements made and recorded over the course of the past ten centuries. Search for quotations by keyword or author name or browse one of the three indices to find your source. English quotations are by far the most thoroughly represented, but a number of classical and contemporary sources are available as well.
  • The Internet Public Library (Michigan): A clearinghouse-style website with reference links arranged by academic subject. The Duke Libraries website may overlap with and provide more comprehensive information than what you'll find here, but this site is user-friendly for certain non-academic web-based sources. Check out the list of links to websites on writing (listed under "Arts and Humanities" and then under "Literature").
  • Roget's II: The New Thesaurus: An alternative to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus. Roget's is also under the umbrella.
  • Strunk's Elements of Style: Lauded by generations of English and writing instructors, William Strunk, Jr.'s short book on rules for language usage and composition is available here. Writers can read through the entirety of the volume or click on chapter titles of interest.
  • Great Books Online: An umbrella site that allows free and easy access to numerous major reference works including Gray's Anatomy, Strunk's Elements of Style, the King James Bible, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, the Columbia Encyclopedia, and Roget's Thesaurus.