Archive for February, 2014

Grammar!

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Grammar and Mechanics, Uncategorized

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On the mid-year evaluations, one of the things many of you expressed frustration over was grammar.  Some are sick of going over what they already know, but that’s OK, they’ll live.

The more pressing matter was the frustration that some of you expressed over the fact that you have been in school for 13 years and have never been given formal grammar instruction or gone over the rules for grammar.  (Yes, there are rules!  It’s not just you get it or you don’t.)

I remember this frustration myself as I had little to no dedicated grammar instruction in school, didn’t understand when I got things wrong, and didn’t even know there were rules until I taught myself this stuff in my twenties.  Insert facepalm: “you mean you don’t just go by what sounds write and put comas where there is a paws?”  Steven Pinker and the whole language movement is to blame.  The theory is that we learn language intuitively, by ear.  But that’s predicated on the false assumption that we are around people who speak proper English all the time and spelling and homophones are logical.  “But spelling don’t make no sense cause some of it is reminisent of middle english while some is modernized tha peeple that rote the first grammer and spelling books didn’t create no patterns either dey jus did wat dey felt like.”  Yeah, that’s what whole language writing looks like.  I’ll leave the rest of that digression for another day though.

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I would like to start working with those of you who want to learn about grammar and improve this aspect of your writing.  While there are handbooks that us old-schoolers used to use, such as Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, believe it or not, the internets can really help with this.   Sometimes you can just type a grammatical question into Google and get your answer, such as “Do periods go inside lets eat grandpaparentheses?”  Yields

If only part of the sentence is parenthetical, then you put the final punctuation outside of the parenthesis:

I enjoy breakfast (sometimes).

If the entire sentence is parenthetical, then you put the punctuation inside the parenthesis.

I enjoy breakfast. (Though I enjoy lunch more.)

who whom owlThis isn’t always the best way to go, but in a pinch it’s a heck of a lot better than guessing.  As far as websites, here are just a few of the plethora of free and useful resources out there.

Chompchomp is one of my favorites.  It has notes and interactive exercises that don’t just tell you you got something wrong, but cite the rule as to why you got it wrong and show you the right way.

The Oatmeal has some great humor-laced stuff to help clear up common errors as well as review some of the more forgotten basics.

Our old friend, Purdue’s OWL doesn’t just have great guidelines for MLA formatting, but for grammar too!

Click through the page break for various Power Points on grammar rules that I used with my tenth graders as well as more plagiarized memes (is that an oxymoron?)

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