30 episodes

Welcome to the weird, wild, scintillatingly stylish, and syntactically sound world of RED PEN—the grammar podcast that won't put you to sleep.Brought to you by the Columbia Journalism Review and hosted by old buds Ryan Davis and Mike Laws, RED PEN plucks examples from the news (as well as from novels, music, movies—wherever!) to answer all those questions you were too afraid to ask in English class.Digressions may include: Green Day's early work, the oppressive atmosphere of latter-day Batman movies, and, of course, cats. Lots of cats.

Red Pen: A Grammar Podcast Columbia Journalism Review

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 31 Ratings

Welcome to the weird, wild, scintillatingly stylish, and syntactically sound world of RED PEN—the grammar podcast that won't put you to sleep.Brought to you by the Columbia Journalism Review and hosted by old buds Ryan Davis and Mike Laws, RED PEN plucks examples from the news (as well as from novels, music, movies—wherever!) to answer all those questions you were too afraid to ask in English class.Digressions may include: Green Day's early work, the oppressive atmosphere of latter-day Batman movies, and, of course, cats. Lots of cats.

    Past, Perfect

    Past, Perfect

    You best believe we seen this trend.


    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.
    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    Find all your favorite Red Pen songs over on the Red Pen Official Playlist.
    To use Red Pen chapters, swipe up on the Now Playing screen or click the top-right-corner Chapters button on Apple Podcasts for macOS.

    • 37 min
    Top 5!

    Top 5!

    In which Mike finally reads the comments.

    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.
    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    Find all your favorite Red Pen songs over on the Red Pen Official Playlist.
    To use Red Pen chapters, swipe up on the Now Playing screen or click the top-right-corner Chapters button on Apple Podcasts for macOS.

    • 39 min
    Ergative Zones

    Ergative Zones

    How Padma Lakshmi schooled us all on the "middle voice."


    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.
    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    Find all your favorite Red Pen songs over on the Red Pen Official Playlist.
    To use Red Pen chapters, swipe up on the Now Playing screen or click the top-right-corner Chapters button on Apple Podcasts for macOS.

    Show Notes:
    "It eats salty": middle voice on "Top Chef," Language Log on "stimulus subject perception verbs"
    The Grammar of Top Chef: What’s With "It Eats Salty"? Mental Floss on "gestalt verbs"

    • 40 min
    Words We Love

    Words We Love

    And a few we hate. And, for some reason, a few that are German.

    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.
    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach


    Show Notes:
    The Staten Island Ferry Schedule (But sign your marriage license on dry land.)
    Out of Office podcast
    Phonesthemes
    @germanonliners

    • 55 min
    Source Code, Part I: Correcting the record

    Source Code, Part I: Correcting the record

    On the record, off the record, on background, deep background: What to expect when you're expecting to be a source.

    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.

    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    Find all your favorite Red Pen songs over on the Red Pen Official Playlist.
    To use Red Pen chapters, swipe up on the Now Playing screen or click the top-right-corner Chapters button on Apple Podcasts for macOS.

    Show Notes:
    A scrappy newspaper’s final cover lacks Voice, Alexandria Neason, CJR
    Journalists are fed up with requests to be ‘on background’ or ‘off the record,’ Ted Kitterman, PR Daily
    Artforum Fires Top Editor After Its Open Letter on Israel-Hamas War, Zachary Small, The New York Times
    Both Sides Now, Amanda Darrach, CJR

    • 41 min
    Make Up the Breakdown

    Make Up the Breakdown

    It's an epidemic, people: one-word compound nouns standing in for phrasal verbs. Is Kelly Clarkson to blame?
    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.


    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

Grammar-Nazi ,

Great podcast

You asked for questions, so here you go:

I’m revamping my copy editing class for the spring. On what five grammar issues would you recommend budding copy editors spend time focusing?

Wolfegirl2 ,

Love this!

This podcast is a delight — interesting, informative, fun and a bit unpredictable. And there’s not a single minute that I “wait through” to get to the good stuff — it’s ALL GOOD! Even the music choices — quirkily relevant , playful and thoughtful — not your standard podcast filler music. Thank you for this intelligent, well-researched program. Clearly you are enjoying what you’re doing, and it’s a pleasure to hang out with you guys.

Profa en Ann Arbor ,

Sentence diagramming?

I’m loving the podcast in so many ways. Thank you! I wondered if you’d ever do an episode about sentence diagramming. Whenever I listen to you, I visually diagram in my head the sentences you’re discussing, just as I did on a blackboard in elementary school eons ago. But I know this method of teaching grammar is out of fashion and not used anymore. For me personally, I couldn’t imagine making sense of grammatical structures without this mental tool. (Plus it’s fun!) You’re both much younger than me, so I wonder: we’re you ever taught to diagram sentences? If not, did you pick it up later? Or do you really not need it? In short, what’s your take (if you have one) on sentence diagramming?

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