The issue of "grammatical correctness" is a complex one, laden with problems of power, prestige and prejudice. Linguists point out that an emphasis on achieving "correct" Standard English has a gate-keeping effect, making it more difficult for those whose home dialect is not "Standard" to enter the American mainstream. Many scholars point out that linguistically speaking, "all dialects are created equal," and that none is more "correct" than another, just as French is no "better" than English or British English is no better than American English. In the U.S., Standard American English has become the expected means of communicating in most professional spheres, both nationally and internationally; however, the person who can "code switch" between different dialects or, better still, different languages, will be the more successful communicator in global and local communities.
The complexity regarding "correctness" and American English is compounded by the large number of handbooks or style sheets containing "rules" for achieving correctness in editing, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Typically, academic writing situations and assignments rely on a handbook geared toward academic writing such as Andrea Lunsford's Easy Writer. On the other hand, many newspapers and magazines use the AP Style Manual or the Chicago Manual of Style; others, such as the New York Times, have their own style sheets. Students should know that no one style sheet or handbook will apply to every writing situation.
Regarding the Concentration, some courses (particularly journalism courses) may require students to use the AP Style Manual while others will rely on Andrea Lunsford's Easy Writer, the handbook of expository writing rules required in Villanova's Core courses. The Blackboard Grammar, Punctuation and Style exam will be based on usage conventions delineated in Andrea Lunsford's Easy Writer, since such grammar conventions underlie all style formats, and all students at Villanova should own Easy Writer.
Preparation for this exam will assure easy success. Passing it will guarantee that you know the basics of punctuation and grammar—the essential elements of good writing!
The following pdf provides a few subjects we recommend students review before attempting the Writing & Rhetoric grammar and style quizzes:
When you feel you are ready for the "real thing," go to the Blackboard site and sign in. View the PDF below for more directions on getting to the quizzes.