Saturday, June 29, 2013

Best Grammar Sites for Advanced ESL EFL Students and English Teachers

This is the third post of four on the topic of ' Best Grammar Sites'. This post is about grammar sites for advanced English language students and English language teachers.

I have reviewed 26 grammar sites (the top listings that came up in Google when I did a search for 'grammar sites'), and the following 5 made my top picks list of great grammar sites for advanced students.

By the way, last month I posted about intermediate grammar sites and the month before about best grammar sites for beginning ESL and EFL students. The post after this one will be an overview, with a master list of all grammar sites reviewed as well as a breakdown of my rankings for each.


  I gave each site a rating out of five for each of the following categories:
  • How easy the site was  to navigate
  • Whether it had a good ´look up list´of grammar topics
  • Has grammar lessons, not just dictionary-like explanations
  • Has clear explanations or just cryptic 'dictionary like' explanations, in easy to understand English
  • Includes many examples using language English students and non-native English speakers  could easily understand
  • Includes interactive exercises and quizzes 

1. The Internet Grammar

2. Edu Find 

3. The Grammarly Handbook

4. Study and Exam

5. Lynch´s Guide to Grammar and Style


1.The Internet Grammar
My ranking: 30/30 

I included this site in the post 'Best Grammar Sites for Intermediate ESL EFL Students' too.  I think it fits even better as a site for advanced students because it covers so many of the finer points of grammar, such as 'minor word classes' and types of clauses (restrictive and non-restrictive), which are rarely covered in grammar sites.

As I`ve mentioned previously, I really like the clean layout, all the white space, the easy navigation, and inclusion of interactive quiz questions at the end of the grammar point explanation. An excellent reference site for teachers because it offers explanations that would be very easy for teachers to use with their students as well.

2. Edu Find
My Ranking: 28/30

Very clean and clear layout. Not overwhelming. The menu structure - major grammar topics visible first, with sub-points appearing only when you click on one- is very easy to navigate.

I also like that there are many examples of each grammar point.

There are interactive quizzes, however they are for testing your knowledge rather than interactive exercises to help you learn in the first place.They are in a different section, not attached to the grammar explanation, so it may be a bit tricky for ESL students to find the appropriate test.

3. The Grammarly Handbook
My Ranking: 25/30

I really like this site, and just wish it had interactive quizzes and exercises.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I really like the clean layout, easy navigability and inclusion of many examples of each point. 

I included this site in the 'Best Grammar Sites for Intermediate ESL EFL Students' post as well. I think it`s appropriate for advanced students and English instructors because further down the homepage it gives in depth instruction on advanced English grammar topics,  as well as writing and style tutorials, on great topics such as transitions and transitional devices, and parallelism.

4. Study and Exam
My ranking: 25/30

I really like the straightforward simplicity and choice of topics - very relevant to English language learners - on this site, and just wish it had interactive quizzes to help reinforce each grammar explanation / lesson.

This site appears high in the evaluations in my reviews of grammar sites for beginning and intermediate students as well. I included it as a great site for advanced ESL and EFL students because further down the home page are advanced topics such as indirect speech with modals, and passive voice for tenses which often trip up students on the TOEIC and TOEFL tests.  

5. Lynch's Guide to Grammar and Style
My ranking:  24/30
JLynch Guide to Grammar and Style

This is the most comprehensive grammar site I have found in terms of topics included. It includes all major and a myriad of minor grammar points, as well as words and phrases that are often used erroneously.

Definitely a useful resource for teachers and English instructors, and for advanced students who are trying to perfect their English.

However, the level of language used in the descriptions is high, the introductions to many points are quite wordy, and the long topic index is so comprehensive. It would be daunting to most English language students (and even to many native English speakers).

I wish there were more example sentences included for each point, and interactive exercises to help people check their level of comprehension.

Of note is the link to the section of the website called ' Getting and A on and English Paper' (look in the first paragraph on the homepage), which breaks down the structure of an essay and how to write one. This would be useful for teachers teaching students in high school or university, and for advanced students preparing to study abroad.

Other Grammar Sites I Considered By Can`t Recommend As Great Grammar Lookup and Learning Sites:

Talking English
My ranking:24

This site is geared more towards pronunciation than grammar instruction.

The grammar guide is far down the menu on the left hand side (look for the word ' grammar'). It has a lot of words on each page, and a high language level is used, so that would be off-putting to a lot of ESL students even though the list of topics includes topics that would be useful for helping low beginners.

I like how there was a very short little quiz at the end of each lesson to help students know if they understood the grammar point or not.

However, overall,  it would be best for teachers looking for explanations of how to describe pronunciation in English rather than as a grammar 'look-up' site.

BBC Learning English
My ranking: 22/30

This site includes a lot of grammar points that learners often mistake, in very appealing multimedia presentations (video clips, audio clips, attractive graphics), but it didn`t meet my criteria as a quick look-up reference grammar site. It is set up as an interesting learning site rather than a quick look up site, and would work best to fill in the gaps of knowledge of an advanced student, in a visually and intellectually interesting way.

The Blue Grammar Book
My ranking: 21/30 

Looks promising but only a small portion of the content is free. The list of free grammar topics is not comprehensive enough for me to recommend.  This site is mostly a high pressured sales pitch for selling the book, The Blue Grammar Book. The language of the explanations is advanced English, and geared to the native speaker of English, not a language learner. There are interactive exercises but you have to read through a lot of promotional material to find them.

Grammar Girl
My ranking: 11/30

Although this site covers some advanced grammar topics and words that people often use incorrectly, it fell short in my evaluation in a number of ways, unfortunately. It lacked an index list of grammar topics, grammar lessons, interactive exercises and quizzes and wasn`t comprehensive in its coverage of grammar points and parts of speech. An interesting site, but not very useful for the purpose of being a thorough, quick look-up site.

Stay tuned for one more wrap up post, with recommendations of best sites overall, and a breakdown of the rankings.

Did I miss a great grammar site?
Let me know!
Comments welcome.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Best Grammar Sites for Intermediate ESL /EFL Students

This post is the second of 4 posts on this topic of 'best grammar sites'.

This post is about the best grammar sites to use with intermediate level English students.

By the way, last month I posted about best grammar sites for beginners, and next month I will post about best grammar sites for advanced students and teachers. I will wrap up with a masterlist of all the grammar sites I`ve mentioned to date, including a breakdown of my rankings.

  I gave each site a rating  out of five for each of the following categories:
  • How easy the site was  to navigate
  • Whether it had a good ´look up list´of grammar topics
  • Has grammar lessons, not just explanations
  • Has clear explanations or just cryptic 'dictionary like' explanations, in easy to understand English
  • Includes lots of examples in English that language learners could easily understand
  • Includes interactive exercises and quizzes  


1.The  internet grammar

2.  Englisch Hilfen Learning English Online
Ranking: 28/30

3. Guide to Grammar and Writing by Capital Community College Foundation
Ranking: 26/30

4. Grammar Bytes
Ranking: 26/30

 5. Study and Exam
Ranking: 25/30

 6. The Grammarly Handbook
 Ranking: 25/30

7. The English Club
Ranking: 24/30


1. The Internet Grammar

I really like this site. Clean layout on the page linked above, clearly organized menu on the left, very comprehensive. Nice interactive exercises immediately below each grammar point explanation and many examples given, using English that intermediate level students would likely understand.

There is one downside, which is that the comprehensive list of grammar topics on the menus may be overwhelming to a language learner. It`s  not clear where to start, or which topics are more important to learn first before tackling others. Offsetting this is the division of menu links, with the parts of speech listed to the left of the sub-points, making it easier to know which are the broader topics and which are more specific sub-points.

2. Englisch Hilfen Learning English Online
Ranking: 28/30
screen shot of homepage for Englisch Hilfen Learning English

I listed this site in my post on 'great grammar sites for beginners' too, but included it here as well since it has such a comprehensive topic list, many of which are geared to intermediate students.

I find the homepage very confusing - too many ads. But is it easy to look up information using the menu to the left, and easy to move around once you are past the homepage, so give students inside links, not just a link to the homepage.

I like the layout of the grammar lessons, with lots of charts and colours to teach ESL students the parts of speech and rules of English usage using visual clues that are univerisally understood. Great sets of exercises  and quizzes and games to help reinforce what has been explained previously.

Tip: look way at the bottom for the  'Exercises - Levels' link, to get directly to things organized by years of English learned ( so, this is where to find things for intermediate or beginner or advanced students).

There is a lot of great content on this site, and the more you look, the more you find! This is the most comprehensive grammar site geared especially towards English language learners that I have found to date. Too bad about the cluttered homepage with excessive and distracting ads.

3. Guide to Grammar and Writing by Capital Community College Foundation
Ranking: 26/30

I like the content of this site, but not the navigation. The parts of speech and grammar sections are listed under  'word and sentence level' which is not somewhere most people would think to look for grammar terms and lessons. I like the explanations of each grammar point and how there are many sentences to demonstrate each part of speech but would like to see more examples.

This site uses higher level grammar terms, so it would be most suitable for higher level intermediate students  and teachers, although there are a lot of explanations that beginning students would benefit from as well, if they could find them.  I like the interactive quizzes at the bottom of each page to reinforce and check comprehension.

4. Grammar Bytes
Ranking: 26/30

This site is geared to native English speaking kids and teens, judging from the name, images and examples. The navigation scheme is not intuitive, however. You have to know to click on the gorilla to enter the site ( it looks like an ad for something rather than a portal, in my opinion). The content is solid and English language level easy for learners to understand,  once you get to the actual grammar lessons, so it would appeal even to adult learners at an intermediate level.

There is not an obvious 'quick look up' or  menu system for easy navigation through this site. You have to know to  click on ' terms'
to find an index list of parts of speech and grammar topics. Also, you would have to know to look for ' exercises' to find the interactive quizzes. Also the quizzes do not directly correspond to the grammar topics. Students would not know which exercise to choose.

Although there is a poor navigation structure,  I actually really like the layout in terms of whitespace and grammar point lesson layout.

I  really like the short clear explanations, which wouldn`t overwhelm English language learners with too much information at first glance. I also like that it has multimedia in the explanations, including You Tube Videos.

5. Study and Exam
Ranking: 25/30

I included this site as a great grammar site for beginners too. It is equally useful for intermediate students. The only thing missing are interactive exercises or quizzes to help reinforce what has just been explained.

As I have mentioned before, I like the clean, clear layout of menu links, and the way they start with things that are useful for beginners to learn and lead into more complex topics useful for intermediate and advanced learners (topics such as 'articles - a/an' come above/ before the parts of a sentence and before types of sentence clauses: very logical progression).

I also like the detailed explanations of the parts of speech, including the subparts of speech, which is perfect for intermediate level students who already know, in general, what the parts of speech are.

The choice of grammar points would be particularly relevant for students preparing  for the TOEIC, TOEFL and other international level English exams.

This site shines in its inclusion of many examples of every point, examples in plain and simple English.

For all these reasons, this is one of my favorite 'quick look-up  reference' grammar site, but it isn`t at the top of my rankings because it isn`t the best self guided study site to recommend to students since it lacks interactive exercises and quizzes. If it had that, it would be.

6.  The Grammarly Handbook
 Ranking: 25/30

This is another one of my favorite quick look up reference tool for lower to mid level intermediate students. The only fault I find with this site is that it is missing interactive exercises and quizzes.

The nice clean layout and easy to navigate. I like that each section begins with examples, before getting into an explanation of the grammar point.  The explanations are also quite playful and entertaining (they use vampires and zombies and funny example sentences) that would appeal to teens and adults alike.

Unfortunately, the introduction blurbs to the site and to many pages uses very advanced language that only a well educated native speaker would understand instantly, so make sure to give inner links, not the link to the introductory page, to your students.

7. The English Club
Ranking: 24/30

I wanted to like this site, but found I didn`t.

This site is geared to kids, judging from the banner and ads, which is too bad since this may turn off teens and adults that would benefit from using this site to learn English.

I thought the homepage was cluttered and this made it difficult to navigate. However,  I like that this site provides an introduction, ' What is grammar'?, giving students a clear place to start, and a basic explanation of what grammar is, which many sites assume and don`t explain.

Unfortunately, students may not recognize this as an introduction and good place to start, and they also may have trouble finding the grammar index, since it is called ' the 8 parts of speech' and is located lower down on the homepage, below the hotlinks.

The hotlinks section mixes grammar topics ( e.g. adjectives) with examples of particular grammar points (e.g. passive voice, going to), which I think is very confusing to language learners. They wouldn`t know that 'passive voice' is an advanced topic and '(un)countable nouns' is a good thing to learn early on, before tackling other more advanced topics like passive voice.  They also wouldn`t likely realize it was best to start with the section listed below the hotlinks, the 8 parts of speech section topics.

The lessons are long and wordy and don´t include many examples, Only some grammar points have interactive quizzes.  And furthermore, the choice of grammar topics, and quizzes, is not very comprehensive or easy to match up with the grammar points explained on the site.