compound prepositions and the preposition adverb question

A compound preposition has the same function as the regular, one-word preposition. It connects a noun (or pronoun) to another word in the sentence. The sole difference with the compound preposition is that it contains more than one word! according to ahead of apart from as of aside from because of by means of in…

Quotation Marks Part Three

This is the third of three pages dealing with quotation marks. Study these rules, and use them in your writing. When you are writing dialogue, start a new paragraph each time the speaker changes. ‘‘We need to remodel the upstairs bathroom,’’ Mom said to Dad. He asked her, ‘‘How much do you think that this…

Confusing usage words part six

learn: verb to acquire knowledge How did you learn to swim so gracefully? teach: (verb) to instruct Will you please teach me the eight parts of speech for this test? personal: (adjective) individual or private; intended for use by a single person This is a personal problem that I would not want to share with…

the adverb

The adverb, the fifth part of speech, modifies (qualifies or limits) verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. An adverb can answer any of these four questions—Where? When? How? To what extent? ➲ Adverbs modify verbs: Henry swam brilliantly. (How did Henry swim?) The train then came down the line. (When did the train come down the…

indefinite pronouns

The singular indefinite pronouns are anybody, anyone, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, somebody, someone, and something. As subjects, these pronouns agree in number with singular verbs. Everyone in these seats is invited to the party. Neither of the contestants has to leave the studio. Everything in those rooms was…

pronouns and their antecedents

Take the sentence, “The veterinarian took pride in her work.” The pronoun her refers back to veterinarian, the subject of the sentence. In this context, veterinarian is the pronoun” antecedent, the word that the pronoun refers back to in the sentence. Usually, the antecedent comes before the pronoun in the sentence. In all cases, the…

personal pronouns

A personal pronoun refers to people, places, things, and ideas. ➲ A first-person personal pronoun refers to the one (or ones) speaking. The singular first-person pronouns are I, me, my, and mine. The plural first-person personal pronouns are we, our, ours, and us. We told our story. I offered my opinion to the reporters. Ours…

the interjection

The interjection, the eighth part of speech, expresses strong emotions or feelings. Often found at the beginning of a sentence, an interjection is usually followed by either an exclamation mark (for strong emotions) or a comma (for mild emotions). An interjection can also be used to protest or command. Though interjections can stand alone, they…

compound complex sentences

A compound-complex sentence has two or more main (or independent) clauses and at least one subordinate (or dependent) clause. ➲ After the winds ceased, the children went outside to play, and their parents started to rake the leaves. The main (or independent) clauses are ‘‘the children went outside to play’’ and ‘‘their parents started to…

Confusing usage words part five

farther: (adjective and adverb) used to designate a physical distance This woman shot the arrow much farther than I did. further: (adjective and adverb) additional Let’s wait for further instructions before we do anything else. healthful: (adjective) that which brings about good health; wholesome Doctor Geiger told his patient to eat a more healthful diet….

Confusing usage words part seven

right: (noun) claim or title; (adjective) proper; just; correct; (adverb) directly; (verb) to put in proper order Freedom of speech is one of our rights. (noun) Is this the right way to tie this knot? (adjective) Come right home after school. (adverb) Let’s right the wrongs we committed. (verb) rite: (noun) a ceremony The religious…

regular verb tenses

Most regular verbs form their past tense by adding -ed to the present-tense form of the verb. Examples of this include walked, talked, and recalled. If a regular verb ends in ‘‘e,’’ as in bathe or wave, simply add ‘‘d’’ to form the past tense. In addition to the present (expresses action that is occurring…

compound subjects part two

Here are some more handy rules about compound subjects to know and use in your writing. ➲ Rule #3: When singular subjects are joined by or or nor, use a singular verb. Neither the kangaroo nor the ostrich was awake. Either the monkey or the giraffe is here. ➲ Rule #4: Plural subjects joined by…

complex sentences

A complex sentence has one main (or independent) clause and one (or more) subordinate (or dependent) clauses. In each sentence, the main clause is underlined, and the subordinate clause is in italics. After the storm subsided, we went out to inspect the grounds. The ticket that you received in the mail is the right one….

the appositive

An appositive is a noun or pronoun (often with modifiers) that is placed beside another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it. Essentially, an appositive is an additional word or group of words used to tell more about who (or what) that noun or pronoun is. No verb appears in an appositive phrase. In…

Regular Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs

To show how they differ in degree or extent, most adjectives and adverbs have three degrees (or forms)—the positive, the comparative, and the superlative. One-syllable words form these degrees in a regular way. ➲ The positive degree (or form) is used when an adjective or adverb modifier is not being compared. The young sister walked…

Quotation Marks Part Two

This is the second of three pages dealing with quotation marks. Know these rules and include them in your writing. Use a question mark or an exclamation mark within the closing quotation mark if the question mark or the exclamation mark is part of the quotation. ‘‘Is this the correct tool?’’ the assistant asked the…

Italics Hyphens and Brackets

Use italics (or an underline) for the titles of the following: books (Brain Games) comic strips (Pogo) full-length plays (The Crucible) long poems (The Aeneid) magazines (Sports Illustrated) movies (The Sound of Music) newspapers (New York Times) ships and planes (U.S.S. Constitution, The Spirit of St. Louis) television and radio programs (Law and Order, All…

Confusing usage words part eight

In mathematics, a negative number times a negative number yields a positive number. Similarly, in grammar, when two negative words are used (where only one is needed), the negatives cancel each other out, making the idea positive and not negative as intended. In the sentence, ‘‘I cannot get no respect from them,’’ the two negative…

the gerund and gerund phrase

➲ A gerund, the second type of verbal, ends in -ing and functions as a noun. A gerund’s uses are many—subject, direct object, subject comple-ment (predicate nominative), appositive, and object of the preposition. If a gerund or the entire gerund phrase is removed from the sentence, the remaining words will not form a complete, logical…

the prepositional phrase

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and usually ends with a noun or a pronoun. The prepositional phrase is underlined in each sentence. The elderly man went to the doctor’s office today. In the morning, the elementary school students perform their exercises. These magicians performed many tricks for the children. Tomas walked into the…

what good writers do

Good writers utilize effective sentence starters to interest their readers. You can do the same. By using different starters, you use variety, a trait of strong writing. Here are seven ways to start your sentences. Gerund or gerund phrase Learning was crucial for the new student. (gerund) Finishing his art project on time brought Andy…

Commas Part Five

Here are some additional useful rules when working with the comma. Use a comma after the salutation of a friendly letter. Dear Marty, Dearest Mom, Use a comma after the closing in a friendly or business letter. Sincerely, Be well, Use a comma to separate items in dates and addresses. She was born on January…

compound subject and compound predicate

➲A compound subject is two or more subjects in a sentence. These subjects are joined by a conjunction and share the same verb. The compound subject is underlined in each sentence. Happy, Sleepy, and Doc knew Snow White. The horses and the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. She and I…

irregular verbs part one

Regular verbs form their past and past participle forms by adding -d or -ed to the verb’s present tense Thus, use becomes used, and call becomes called. Irregular verbs form their past and past participle forms differently. The present tense break becomes broke in its pasttense form and broken in its past participle form. The…

Commas Part Two

Here are some useful rules when you are working with commas. Use a comma after Yes and No when these words start a sentence. Yes, we have the show’s starting time. No, there are no bananas in that store. Use a comma both after consecutive introductory prepositional phrases and after a long introductory prepositional phrase….

More subject verb agreement situations

An expression of an amount, including fractions, measurements, percent-ages, and time periods, can be singular or plural depending on its use. Two-sixths equals one-third. (Two sixths is considered a single unit.) Sixteen hours is a very long time to wait. (Sixteen hours is a unit of time, one block of time according to the sentence.)…

Confusing usage words part three 2

discover: verb to be the first to find The scientist discovered this element years ago. invent: (verb) to think out and produce Who will invent a better way to stop people from texting while driving? disinterested: (adjective) not biased or prejudiced; showing no favoritism We all want a disinterested judge to work in our judicial…

The nominative case

Nouns and pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, and they, to name a few) used in the nominative case function as subjects and predicate nominatives in sentences. Subject examples: Patsy read the newspaper. I can assist you with the project. They will be doing the least favorite part of the job. Predicate nominative examples:…

The possessive case 2

Nouns and pronouns (me, you, her, him, it, them, and us, to name a few) used in the objective case function as direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of the preposition. The direct object is a noun or pronoun that answers the question ‘‘who?’’ or ‘‘what?’’ after an action verb. ➲ You asked me an…