Considering I am a writing tutor myself, I am ashamed to admit that grammar often perplexes me. That is not to say that I write with poor grammar, but rather that the rules and accepted conventions are not something I am always aware of. The basics are fine. A period ends a sentence, a semicolon must separate two phrases that could stand on their own, but the nuances and how to explain why or when rules are violated can be difficult for me. After reading a grammatically incorrect sentence, I, like many native English speakers, can only say “it sounds wrong.” I can point to the problem area or think of possible corrections, but I may find it hard to explain why exactly the sentence was wrong in the first place.
Yes, I should put more effort into learning grammar rules, but simply recognizing an error by sound is not a skill to be shunned. In fact, I think it is a skill that should be honed by all you native English writers out there. It’s not the most glamorous of writing suggestions, but any writer could benefit from reading their paper aloud to themselves in the mirror. You could read it to another human, but who wants to listen to you babble through six pages of text? Plus, by standing in front of a mirror, you force yourself to listen to your nonsense and thus increase your chances of realizing when something “sounds wrong.”
So, the next time you have a piece of writing and are worried about grammar, read it aloud, read it proud, and then bring it to the Writing Center. I promise to only make you read it one more time.