Grammar Busters / 25 октября 2007 г.
Know Your Parts of Speech
A noun names a person, place, thing, quality, or action. It can function as the subject or object of a verb.
A pronoun substitutes for a noun or a noun phrase. Here are several different types of pronouns:
Subject Pronouns: Singular/Plural: l/we ▪ you/you ▪ he, she, it/they
Object Pronouns: Singular/Plural: me/us ▪ you/you ▪ him, her, it/them
Possessive Pronouns: Singular/Plural: my, mine/our, ours ▪ your, yours/your, yours ▪ his, her, hers, its/their, theirs
Relative Pronouns: These pronouns take the place of a repeated noun when a sentence is collapsed inside another sentence.
Example: My sister (my sister knows all the grammar rules) couldnt believe the mistakes I made becomes My sister, who knows all the grammar rules, couldnt believe the mistakes I made.
For People: who, whom, whose, that
For Things: which, of which, that
Interrogative Pronouns: These pronouns introduce questions.
For People: who, whom, whose, which
For Things: what, which
Indefinite Pronouns: Indefinite pronouns refer to nouns or noun phrases that are vague or unknown.
Example: each, all, either, anyone, somebody, everyone, whoever, whatever.
An article is a word used to signal a noun.
Indefinite: a or an Definite: the
Verbs express actions or state of being. They are distinguished by number (singular and plural) and person (first, second, third).
Prepositions and Conjunctions
Prepositions and conjunctions connect elements in a sentence. In general, prepositions are followed by a noun; conjunctions are followed by a subject/verb phrase.
Preposition: We decided not to drive because of the rain.
Conjunction: He wanted to get good grades, but he didnt study.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjective: An adjective is a word used to describe or specify a noun.
Example: I read the book becomes more specific when you add an adjective: I read the blue book.
Adverb: An adverb is a word used to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
Example: Joe walked quickly down the street.
Period/Question Mark/Exclamation Point
End your sentences with a period for a declarative sentence, a question mark to ask a question, or an exclamation point to express strong feeling.
Commas are used:
- To separate parts of a series. (I like dogs, cats, and birds.)
- To separate long independent clauses when theyre joined by a coordinating conjunction. (I havent eaten anything all day, yet I dont feel hungry right now.)
- To separate parts of a sentence. (Yes, well come.)
- To set off long phrases that come before the subject. (During the harsh winter at Valley Forge, the soldiers suffered greatly.)
- To indicate that the normal sentence order is being interrupted. (The girl, it seems likely, will win the race.)
- To set off non-essential parts of a sentence. (My friend, who is an actress, enioyed the play.)
- To prevent misreading of a sentence. (After summer, school began.)
Some misuses of the comma are:
- Interrupting the flow of thought of a sentence.
(Incorrect: The man knew that, he had a problem.)
- Separating words or phrases joined by and or or.
(Incorrect: Jane walked to the park, and sat on the bench.)
- Separating a conjunction and the word or word it introduces.
(Incorrect: Norah was sad but, she kept smiling.)
Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses and major word groupings from minor ones.
- The horse galloped around the field; it was full of energy.
- I enjoy apples and pears; corn, peas, and potatoes; and other natural foods.
Apostrophes indicate possession and contractions, and are used to form plurals of letters and figures for which there is no acceptable plural.
- Its time to go to school. ▪ Those are Johns shoes.
- How many is are in Mississippi?
Quotation marks are used to indicate titles of short works and direct quotations. Commas and periods are always placed inside the end quotation mark.
- ▪ I have to read a story called My Mothers House tonignt.
(Note: when the speaker of a direct quotation is mentioned in the sentence, separate the reference from the quotation with a comma.)
- ▪ Mary said, I love grammar.
Common Grammar Mistakes
Adjectives vs. Adverbs
On confusing adjectives and adverbs: remember, an adjective describes a noun, and an adverb describes a verb.
- I do a good job. (Good, an adjective, is used to describe the type of job you do.)
- I do that job well. (Well, an adverb, is used to describe how the job was done.)
Subject vs. Object Pronouns
Using a subject pronoun when an object pronoun is needed.
Correct: Keith went to the park with Steve, Dave, and me.
Incorrect: Keith went to the park with Steve, Dave, and I.
When the pronoun is a direct object or follows a preposition, the object form of the pronoun should be used.
TIP: Say the sentence aloud without the other nouns. For example, Keith went to the park with I is obviously incorrect.
Agreement In Number
A singular subject requires a singular verb; a plural subject requires a plural verb. This rule holds true even when the subject and verb are separated by phrases and modifiers.
- A hive of bees is near the garage.
- Sarah, as well as three other girls, is not in school today.
- The biggest problem is the repairs we must make.
- Where are Jane and Jake?
- Each of the cats likes milk.
TIP: Find the subject and verb and make sure they agree in number. Dont get sidetracked by prepositional phrases that appear between the subject and verb.
Agreement In Case
When the noun following a verb stands for the same person or thing as the subject of the verb, it should be in the same case as the subject.
Correct: They thought that the writer was I.
Incorrect: They thought that the writer was me.
TIP: Switch the positions of the nouns before and after the verb. The sentence should still make sense: They thought that me was the writer is obviously incorrect.
A dangling modifier is a phrase or clause that is attached to the wrong part of the sentence. The doer usually follows the introductory clause.
Correct: Turning to talk to the passenger, the driver didnt see the pothole.
Incorrect: Turning to talk to the passenger, the pothole wasnt seen.
TIP: Change the phrase around: The pothole, turning to talk to the passenger, wasnt seen doesnt make sense!
Avoid breaks between a preposition and its object, a main verb and its auxiliary, and an infinitive and to.
Awkward: He was looking for, among the crowd, his best friend.
Acceptable: He was looking for his best friend among the crowd.
Awkward: Joe will have, if all goes well, finished the project by 5:00 p.m.
Acceptable: If all goes well, Joe will have finished the project by 5:00 p.m.
Awkward: Nicole hopes to quickly rise to success.
Acceptable: Nicole hopes to rise to success quickly.
TIP: Ask yourself if the break youre making in a sentence is really necessary.
Commonly Confused Word Pairs
Heres a list of word groups that are frequently confused.
accept to receive except to leave out
affect to influence
effect to accomplish (or, as a noun, a result)
among refers to a group of more than 2
between refers to only 2
amount refers to uncountable nouns (sand, milk)
number refers to countable nouns (apples, cups)
beside by the side of something (May I sit beside you?)
besides in addition (She had two cars, and she owned a moped besides.)
can implies ability may denotes permission
fewer refers to countable nouns (people, dollars)
less refers to uncountable nouns (money, fuel)
healthful gives health (An apple is a healthful food.)
healthy a state of health (He is a healthy young man.)
its possessive form of it (The bird broke its wing.)
its contracted form of it is (Its time to go.)
respectable deserving of respect
respectful showing respect
their possessive form of they (It is their house.)
there denotes a place (I wont be going there.)
theyre contracted form of they are (Theyre here.)
whos contracted form of who is (Whos coming for dinner?)
whose possessive form of who (Whose book is this?)