To Whom It May Concern: Conventions of Standard English Grammar

Should you say It is I? Does it matter whether you say who or whom? Do modifiers really dangle? This course explores the basic issues of what we call standard English, including the question of how we might define it. We will review English grammar according to the traditional parts of speech, and we will also look at punctuation and word use. We will discuss how to deal with usage issues and try to come up with ways to make informed decisions about them. We will also explore how far a knowledge of these points can help us become more effective writers and speakers.

A $50 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

Schedule clarification: This is a four-week online course. It runs from Monday, October 11 to Friday, November 5. Each week, all week, you can study that week’s material, post and respond to discussion board topics, and engage in course activities. You will participate in Zoom Meetings sessions each Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Define standard English in several forms
  • Identify the role of standard English in relation to other dialects of English
  • Describe the traditional parts of speech
  • Discuss the various conventions of standard grammar and punctuation
  • Make informed choices about using (or not using) standard English in different situations

Learning methods

Your online learning will include the following methods:

  • Reading academic and non-academic articles
  • Participation in written discussions with other students
  • Participation in videoconference seminars

For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1

We consider what “standard English” is, and look at nouns and pronouns.

Week 2

We learn more about pronouns, and move on to adjectives and verbs.

Week 3

We examine adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions, and move on to clauses.

Week 4

We consider sentences and punctuation, and wrap up with style.

Books, materials and resources

You will access course resources using SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.

Technical requirements

This course is delivered using SFU's online learning system, Canvas. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.  

To get the most out of this online course, you should be comfortable doing the following:

  • Using everyday software such as browsers, email and social media
  • Navigating a website by clicking on links and finding pages in a menu
  • Downloading and opening PDF documents
  • Posting, replying and uploading images to a discussion board
  • Participating in videoconferencing sessions

You will be participating in videoconferencing using Zoom Meetings. For this, your computer needs to have a camera, microphone and speakers or headphones. Your computer software should be up to date with the latest available operating system and browser versions.

Accessing your course

  • A few days before the course starts, we will email you more information about the course and how you'll access it. You will also receive an email inviting you to access the Canvas learning platform (click on the link in the invitation to join the course). Once you’ve accessed Canvas, you can begin exploring the platform on your own. The full course will be accessible on its start date.
  • We’ll also host a virtual drop-in time on Zoom Meetings a few days before the course starts. This will give you a chance to check that you can access Zoom Meetings, and that your computer’s camera and microphone and speakers are working properly.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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