Why Grammar?

“Grammar is your tool box. No mechanic worth a toot can fix anything without knowing exactly what tool to use. Why would it be any different with communicators? For us, knowing good grammar is as important as it is for a mechanic to know the difference between a flat-head screwdriver and Phillips screwdriver. Period.”

Malcolm Gibson

What's where:

Grammar &
other goodies
  Affect and effect
  Because of & due to
  Lie and lay
 • Pronouns: Three cases
  Sequence of tenses
  Subjunctive mood
  That and which
  That (when to use it)
  The “that/which” challenge
  Who and whom

From A to Z:
  False purpose
 • Grammar's Top 20
  Improving leads
  Photo captions
  $2 million comma!

Spelling is EZ
(oops, easy)
  Spelling hints: It's EZ!
  Spelling lists: “a” to “zenith”
  Dan Quayle Memorial Rule

Words for
the wise
  Right word: Don't “flout” it
  Word lists: Define this!

Man bites dog!
  Writing effective heds
  Good headlines
  Problem headlines
  Haiku & limericks
  Headline tips

Oh, no,
not numbers!
  Accurate numbers
  Business numbers

Other stuff
to know
  General knowledge guide
  Prof's pet peeves
  Qualities of an editor
  Study tips

Some good links
& some hijinks

  Almanac, etc.
  AP Style's “Top 15”
  Dictionary (Webster's)
  Dictionary Web site
  Encyclopedia Britannica
  Kansan Style Guide
  National Geographic maps
  Newspapers, etc.
  The New York Times
  Quote search
  The University Daily Kansan
  Unbelievable, but true

(c) 2009 Don Wright

Welcome to Professor Malcolm Gibson's


Class Syllabus Grammar's Who is Contact
Schedule Spring 2013 Top 20 Malcolm G? me!

Hello. Welcome to Professor Malcolm Gibson's Wonderful World of Words — a.k.a. “Making Words Work” — the world of writing, editing, grammar and usage as it is preached and practiced by Malcolm Gibson, a former newspaper editor professing journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

     This is his warm-and-fuzzy digital guide to good word use. You have access to a multitude of goodies that can help, inform and, in some cases, entertain. Lurking among the links are even a few surprises, most of them pleasant.

Frank and Ernest, April 23, 2013© Thaves; Frank and Ernest, Jan. 21, 2005 © Thaves

     Good word use in writing and editing, the focus of this site, is an important process, one you must take seriously. As  H.G. Wells is credited with saying (you do know who he is, don't you? If not, click on his name. It might be on a quiz!):
Wells quote

    Yes, editing can be fun — and a power trip, too!  And it applies to whether you're reviewing and revising your own work or someone else's. The ability to do both well will result in raising your value wherever you might work, as well as getting you more money!

     (H.G. Wells also said: “There comes a moment in the day, when you have written your pages in the morning, attended to your correspondence in the afternoon and have nothing further to do. Then comes the hour when you are bored; that's the time for sex.” Sorry, no time to be bored here!)

     This site is not the product of one person's effort. It, as with all good journalism, is collaborative. I've begged, borrowed and stolen material from many people, especially my “word” colleagues here: Doug Ward, Chuck Marsh and, especially, the late John Ginn. I also must thank the many others who came before me, most especially Bruce Swain and the late John Bremner, and many others too numerous to mention. I also give profound thanks to many of my students who have offered a multitude of suggestions and examples, mostly good.

     If you have any comments, suggestions or corrections, please e-mail me at mgibson@ku.edu.

     Thank you.

© 1997-2013 Malcolm D. Gibson
The materials in Professor Malcolm Gibson's Wonderful World of Words, a.k.a. “Making Words Work,” are copyrighted. Students, teachers and professionals are free to access and use its resources. Teachers are free (and encouraged) to use the materials for classroom (instructional) use with proper credit (though Prof. Gibson would like to know just so he has an idea of who's using it and how.) For all others, other than personal use, permission must be received from Malcolm Gibson, 2052 Dole, William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, 1000 Sunnyside Ave., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. Phone: (785) 864-7667. E-mail: mgibson@ku.edu. Credits: Artwork and photos found in this course guide are either personal photographs, free access art from the Web or art from PrintMaster Premier (c) 1998 Mindscape, Inc. In addition to this page, PrintMaster Premier artwork can be found in the following pages: General Knowledge Guidelines, Grading, Photo Captions, Prof's Pet Peeves, Sports, Study Tips, Unbelievable, But True and stories linked through that page, No Link, and Zilch. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. Updated April 23, 2013.

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