Even though my copyediting class has taken up time that could I could theoretically have spent on research and paper writing, I think the class is well worth it. (For one thing, I probably wouldn't spend the extra time on research stuff anyhow.) I never felt like I learned English grammar and syntax very well. My teachers often praised my writing, but I wrote on intuition. "Hmm, that sounds about right." I didn't even learn what adjectives and adverbs were until I studied German in middle school.
The copyediting class is illuminating all those dark corners of English usage. Did you know that the word republican should be capitalized when referring to a member of the party but not when referring to a type of government? It's humbling to realize how many constructs I've avoided or desecrated. Some of the rules have historical or logical reasons and some are simply grandfathered into the language. All this examination of the details of English can't help but improve my writing, and I find that a rather stimulating prospect. (The construction of that last sentence is itself a point of contention. Follett's Modern American Usage does not approve of the phrase cannot help but, but Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage does.)
This week we read the chapter on grammar. It was the most difficult chapter (so far) for me to understand. Part of it talked about the subjunctive mood. What is that? It sounds like a crabby mood. And what's a participle? Is it soem sort of popsicle?
I'm sure I use these things. I feel like I should have learned at some point in my education what the are, but I have no clue. In order to learn how to use them correctly, I need to figure out what they are. Double-duty this week!