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Style and Grammar School: Background

My teaching and the content I’ve written that underpins them have their origins in a monogram I started working on and self-published in 2007 and subsequently revised multiple times: Before we begin: Notes on the editing and proofreading of papers, theses and related work.

Intended for prospective and new authors, it hovered at around 14 A4 pages. It mainly addressed what an author can do to make a document editing-ready.

A few years later, I started getting requests to present language workshops to mostly post-graduate students. I’ve developed text on every aspect of each section, as per the list of sections and the headings under each.

The six sections are:

  • Appetizers and bonbons: Developing an appetite to learn more about English
  • A brief history: How English went from a little-known Germanic dialect to a global language
  • Key ingredients of English: Nitty-gritty
  • How to write paragraphs, paraphrase, summarise and quote; fair use, plagiarism and such
  • English class with Stephen Fry, Stephen King, Strunk and White, Steven Pinker and Noam Chomsky
  • Jargon, garbage language and the weaponisation of English.

Depending on which of the sections you choose, we:

  • Address English’s 16 tenses and how to mix them, subject-verb agreement, the passive voice, prepositions (words that go anywhere a mouse can go), sentence structure (syntax), the singular ‘they’ and the fact that the English alphabet did not always contain 26 letters.
  • Clarify what tone is (as opposed to style, diction and tone), how some words were born and that some have died, some differences between UK and U.S. English, the history of the word OK, partner words that have fallen out of use, the proofreading trickster, the Plain English Campaign, how many errors are acceptable in a text, and the classic style.
  • Dip into Steven Pinker, Stephen Fry, Stephen King, Strunk and White, and Noam Chomsky and their work on language, awareness, history and how the world works.
  • Explore how English went from a little-known Germanic dialect to a global language – from the Great Vowel Shift, to the English Renaissance, to the printing press and standardisation, to the Bible, to dictionaries, grammars and newspapers, to the golden age of English literature, to world Englishes and English today.
  • Learn more about how Danielle Steel has managed to write 185 books, about jargon, how English is weaponised in garbage language, how to write paragraphs, paraphrase, summarise, repurpose, quote and reference, about fair use, plagiarism, copyright law and the misuse of sources, and that the demands of our time ask more from authors than a bright idea and limpid prose.

Note: You can also book sessions on King’s On writing: A memoir of the craft, Strunk and White’s The elements of style (the illustrated edition), or Pinker’s The sense of style: The thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century.

Much pleasure awaits. Let’s dive in…

For availability, costs and bookings, e-mail me at