Online Class: Writing Basics 101 — Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Writing Structures

[2022] 175+ Free Online Writing Courses to Improve Your Skills

Becoming a better writer can help you achieve professional and personal goals. Whether you’re preparing for university studies, drafting résumés and cover letters, writing sales copy, or trying to preserve your own memories, you need to be able to communicate through writing. Fortunately, free writing courses abound to guide you in your writing journey.

Want to start writing fiction? There’s are several writing classes for that, several actually. There are also free writing online courses that will teach you to write better business emails, create compelling online posts and social media updates, and prepare technical reports. English language learners, teachers, and grammar nerds will also find some courses on this list. In short, whatever it is that you’re writing, chances are you can improve your craft with one or more of the courses below.

Quick note: While many of these courses do come with fees, all of them are available to audit in full or in part. If you’re new to MOOCs and want to learn more (including how fees work in these courses), check out our Beginner’s Guide to Massive Open Online Courses.

Free Grammar Courses

Perfect Tenses and Modals
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will learn about important intermediate verb tenses, including present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive. You will also learn about common modal verbs used in English.
★★★★★ (7 ratings)

Effective Writing
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee via Swayam
The purpose of this writing course is to familiarise students with the nuances of effective writing so that they can better understand the subtle art of writing. It allows them to write with clarity, precision, and subtlety to express their ideas on various occasions while considering the concepts of appropriateness and accuracy.
★★★★★ (2 ratings)

English Composition
Arizona State University via edX
Learn to develop and express your ideas effectively for a variety of personal and professional purposes, audiences, and occasions in this comprehensive introduction to English composition credit-eligible course.
★★★★☆ (8 ratings)

Grammar and Punctuation
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
After completing this course, you will be able to: – identify the correct verb tenses to use – use commas effectively – utilize several different sentence types – write more effectively in English
★★★★☆ (33 ratings)

Verb Tenses and Passives
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will review the verb tenses that you learned in beginning English classes and learn about a few tenses you may not know very well.
★★★★★ (1 rating)

Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Fundamental English Writing)
Mt. San Jacinto College via Coursera
Learn to become an effective builder of sentences using the basic tools of English grammar, punctuation, and writing in this FREE and open course. This is a fundamental English writing course.
★★★★☆ (25 ratings)

English Grammar and Style
University of Queensland via edX
Learn key concepts and strategies in grammar and style to help enhance your writing and confidently respond to the demand of high levels of literacy in the 21st century.
★★★★☆ (33 ratings)

Tricky English Grammar
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
While it’s easy for non-native speakers to get overwhelmed by confusing grammar rules, in this course, we’ll provide you with tips that will help you understand the rules more easily and give you lots of practice with the tricky grammar of everyday English.
★★★☆☆ (3 ratings)

Adjectives and Adjective Clauses
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
Adjectives and adjective clauses are very common in English, so students need to be able to understand them when they see them or hear them.
★★★☆☆ (5 ratings)

Just Reading and Writing English 2
Tsinghua University via Coursera
Do you want to read and write better in English? The course consists of 6 units with different topics: education, manners, personal communication, purpose of living, cultural studies, life science. From this course, you will have a good knowledge of intermediate English reading and writing skills.

Just Reading and Writing English 1
Tsinghua University via Coursera
Do you want to communicate with English speakers fluently? The course consists of 6 units with different topics: feelings, staying healthy, learning, university, cultural differences, and cities. From this course, you will have a good knowledge of primary English reading and writing skills in your daily life.

Writing and Editing: Revising
University of Michigan via Coursera
This fourth and final course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will help you master perhaps the most important step in the writing process: revising. You’ll learn about the difference between editing and proofreading.

Writing and Editing: Drafting
University of Michigan via Coursera
This third course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will give you a number of strategies to help with what is often the most intimidating, even paralyzing part of the writing process: getting started. You’ll learn about the “planning fallacy” and “temptation bundling.” And you’ll continue to benefit, through our ongoing “Good Sentences” and “Takeaways” segments, from the models and advice of a diverse set of writers.

Writing and Editing: Structure and Organization
University of Michigan via Coursera
This second course in the Good with Words: Writing and Editing series will help you become an effective architect of information, both with your sentences and with your paragraphs. You’ll learn that the traditional advice to “Show, don’t tell” is incomplete and that skilled writers actually switch back and forth between showing and telling.

Who should take this course?

This course is primarily intended for anyone who needs help with their grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills or anyone who lacks confidence in their grammar, writing and editing skills. This course is designed specifically for busy professionals who need to refine or polish their writing skills or require a refresher course on how to write well. If you think you require more remedial help in grammar, spelling, and sentence formation, or if English is not your first language and you are unsure what level of English learning you are currently at, you may want to check out our extensive list of ESL courses for different levels of English language mastery.

Yes, there is an instructor who will review your assignment activities, provide feedback on your errors, and answer any questions you may have about the course material. You are not alone when you take this course, Ms. Daphnee St. Val is there to help you on your writing improvement journey!

Why do I need this course if I can just run a spell check?

Presenting yourself well these days requires competent writing skills. Sending out written communications without spelling errors doesn’t necessarily mean your writing is acceptable, conveys the meaning and tone you want, or correctly communicates your intended message. People will review your writing as a direct reflection of your voice, your personality, and your thoughts. If your writing is muddled, disorganized, long-winded, awkward, or difficult to follow, the reader will unfortunately believe that is who you are. Conversely, if your writing is clear, organized, concise and with purpose, people will believe you are smart, capable, and credible. This course provides several lessons and writing exercises to help you build better writing skills that convey the message and tone you want while using your own voice and style.

Yes, assignment activities and lesson exams to test your mastery of course curriculum are graded. This will provide the necessary proof that you are in fact understanding and mastering the lesson outcomes. Should you fail a specific assignment activity you may be given the option to redo the activity correctly for a better grade. Ultimately, this course isn’t about submitting flawless work–it’s about learning from your mistakes and improving your writing processes. Please note that this course and instructor are here to help you succeed! We want to help you improve your grammar and writing skills.


  • “Mina Shaughnessy had much to do with encouraging the acceptance of basic writing as a distinct area of teaching and research. She named the field and founded in 1975 the Journal of Basic Writing, which continues as one of the most important vehicles for the dissemination of research articles. In 1977, she published one of the most important scholarly books on the subject, Errors and Expectations, a book that remains the most important single study of basic writers and their prose. [O]ne of the values of her book is that she showed teachers how they could, by viewing errors as linguistic misconceptions, determine the causes of writing problems that on the surface might appear confusing and unconnected.”
    (Michael G. Moran and Martin J. Jacobi, “Introduction.” Research in Basic Writing: A Bibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Press, 1990)
  • “Every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university for the occasion–invent the university, that is, or a branch of it, like History or Anthropology or Economics or English. He has to learn to speak our language, to speak as we do, to try on the peculiar ways of knowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing that defines the discourse of our community.
    “One response to the problems of basic writers, then, would be to determine just what the community’s conventions are, so that those conventions can be written out, ‘demystified,’ and taught in our classrooms, Teachers, as a result, could be more precise and helpful when they ask students to ‘think,’ ‘argue,’ ‘describe,’ or ‘define.’ Another response would be to examine the essays written by basic writers–their approximations of academic discourse–to determine more clearly where the problems lie. If we look at their writing, and if we look at it in the context of other student writing, we can better see the points of discord when students try to write their way into the university.” (David Bartholmae, “Inventing the University.” When a Writer Can’t Write: Studies in Writer’s Block and Other Composing-Process Problems, ed. by Mike Rose. Guilford Press, 1985)
  • “[T]he real challenge for us as teachers of basic writing lies in helping our students become more proficient at abstracting and conceptualizing and hence at producing acceptable academic discourse, without losing the directness many of them now possess.” (Andrea Lunsford, quoted by Patricia Bizzell in Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992)

Where Do Basic Writers Come From?

“[T]he research does not support the view that basic writers come from any single social class or discourse community. Their backgrounds are too complex and rich to support simple generalizations about class and psychology to be particularly useful in helping to understand these students.”
(Michael G. Moran and Martin J. Jacobi, Research in Basic Writing. Greenwood, 1990)

“Many early studies of basic writing in the 1970s and 80s drew on the metaphor of growth in order to talk about the difficulties faced by basic writers, encouraging teachers to view such students as inexperienced or immature users of language and defining their task as one of helping students develop their nascent skills in writing. The growth model pulled attention away from the forms of academic discourse and towards what students could or could not do with language. It also encouraged teachers to respect and work with the skills students brought to the classroom. Implicit in this view, though, was the notion that many students, and especially less successful or ‘basic’ writers, were somehow stuck in an early stage of language development, their growth as language users stalled.

“Yet this conclusion, pretty much forced by the metaphor of growth, ran counter to what many teachers felt they knew about their students–many of whom were returning to school after years of work, most of whom were voluble and bright in conversation, and almost all of whom seemed at least as adept as their teachers in dealing with the ordinary vicissitudes of life. What if the trouble that they were having with writing at college was less a sign of some general failing in their thought or language than evidence of their unfamiliarity with the workings of a specific sort of (academic) discourse?”
(Joseph Harris, “Negotiating the Contact Zone.” Journal of Basic Writing, 1995. Reprinted in Landmark Essays on Basic Writing, ed. by Kay Halasek and Nels P. Highberg. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001)


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