You want more language lessons? How about some Grammar Control!
I've had so many hits on my Proper English hub, it's kind of scary. I mean, I mostly wrote it for kicks, but the fact that people actually wanted to read it and took something from it just astounds me. And then to see a request for more language lessons! Let me tell you, folks, I'm very proud of you all right now. A little sad that you'd need more help, but proud nonetheless.
Anywho, going back to the topic at hand...
Grammar is important.
Grammar is the structure of the English language.
Grammar separates the morons from the intelligent people.
And that is why I love it.
Now, not everyone knows about proper grammar. This saddens me. Did you not pay attention throughout your school career? Did you drop out of elementary school? Is that even possible?
I don't believe it is, but who knows nowadays?
If you have a reading disability, I can understand how writing in general can be difficult for you. Reading disabilities are a pain in the butt. And while some can be overcome, others are with you for the long-haul. For those with dyslexia, there is no real cure. They can overcome it, to an extent, but it will never go away permanently. Even I have a bit of a problem with selective dyslexia; it likes to act up once in a blue moon, but when it does, it seriously sucks major monkey nuts. Take this morning, for example. I went to go and read a hub by my good friend Hal Licino, and I just couldn't read it all. The words kept going all goofy on my eyeballs.
Darn you, optometrists, I went to you for a reason! I got glasses for a reason! Why are words still getting jumbled?!
Ah well. Life goes on.
Getting back on topic, grammar is extremely important in the English language. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if your grammar just happens to stink, or if you're not entirely certain about it.
Simple Sentence Structure
Seeing as grammar basically covers everything in English, let's just go with the basics.
Everyone knows what a simple sentence is, right? A simple sentence consists of a subject and a predicate. Just that. Here's an example:
My dog ate a squirrel.
The subject is "My dog," and the predicate is "ate a squirrel." That is a simple sentence.
The subject always comes before the predicate. There may be numerous predicates, or even numerous subjects, but the subject will always come first. It establishes who or what you are talking about in the sentence. The predicate tells you what/where that person, place or thing is doing/located.
There are other types of sentences, too. There's the...
- Compound sentence: combining two sentences together.
- Complex sentence: one full sentence with half of a sentence, also known as an independent clause with a dependent clause.
- Compound Complex sentence: two full sentences with half a sentence somewhere inside the compound, or two independent clauses with a dependent clause.
I may have mentioned a couple of things you didn't know about or haven't heard in a long time. An independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own. Let's go back to our simple sentence, shall we?
My dog ate a squirrel.
There you go; an independent clause. Now, what about those complex/compound blahdeblah sentences we mentioned earlier? Here's a compound sentence:
My dog ate a squirrel, but she didn't enjoy the taste very much.
Compound sentences are joined together by conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet). Y'know, there's this great little video all about English from that silly television show called School House Rock... All the English lessons worth learning are taught through songs. What's sad is, I still remember most of the songs. Does that constitute as crazy to anyone else?
Moving on, here's an example of a complex sentence.
While she was in the meadow, my dog ate a squirrel.
"While she was in the meadow," is a fragment, or a dependent clause. It cannot stand on its own because it wouldn't make sense.
While she was in the meadow. ... Yeah, okay, what about it? What did she do? Why aren't you finishing your sentence?!
It doesn't make sense, thus, you can't leave it alone. Dependent clauses need buddies. Two dependend clauses don't generally make for good friends, since neither of them are full sentences. A dependent clause must always be with an independent clause.
A compound-complex sentence can be a little tricky, but we'll make it easy for you:
While she was in the meadow, my dog ate a squirrel, though she didn't enjoy the taste very much.
Though, although, while, before, after, because, thus, and since are other conjunctions most people don't think about, but they're just as important as the simple ones we all remember from our youth.
When writing, try to use a variety of sentences. An entire essay using only simple sentences will get boring very fast, while one using nothing but compound-complex sentences can get extremely confusing. Variety is key.
Contractions make our language a little easier by shoving two simple words, such as are and not, together to form one word: aren't. They are shown with apostraphes to indicate that there is more to the word, but that you've chosen not to fully write out both words and have instead opted to bash them together like a pair of cymbals.
Here's a small list of contractions:
- Aren't (are not)
- Isn't (is not)
- It's (it is)
- Who's (who is)
- What's (what is)
- Why's (why is)
- Where's (where is)
- When's (when is)
- Would've (would have)
- Could've (could have)
- Should've (should have)
- I've (I have) got a lovely bunch of coconuts... Sorry, couldn't help myself. :-P
- What're (what are)
- Why're (why are)
- Who're (who are, not to be mistaken with the bad word without the apostrophe)
- When're (when are, most commonly used in rural Minnesota :-P)
- Where're (where are, another Minnesota favorite)
- We're (we are)
- You're (you are)
- Hasn't (has not)
- Hadn't (had not)
- Haven't (have not)
- Didn't (did not)
- Doesn't (does not)
- Don't (do not)
- Can't (can not)
- Couldn't (could not)
- Won't (will not)
- Wouldn't (would not)
- Shouldn't (should not)
- Shan't (shall not, hardly ever used)
- "Noun" 's (he is/has, she is/has, that is/has, this is/has, whatever the noun + is/has)
And the one we know and loathe...
- Ain't (am is not, usually used the same as Isn't or Aren't or simply for Am Not)
I have to admit, I use Ain't a lot. Honest to goodness, I do. Then again, I live in rural Minnesota, so it's slightly understandable. I also have a father who lived in Virginia for a number of years and still has a bit of his southern twang, which I inadvertently inherited, giving more credence to Ain't. We also love to use y'know (you know), y'all (you all), whatcha (what're you), ain'tcha (ain't you), and betcha (bet you, most commonly used in the sentence "Ya, sure, you betcha!" though it doesn't make much sense). Life hates me that way.
Contractions are great, fine and dandy, but you shouldn't use them all the time. That just ruins half the fun of writing!
Punctuation is Preferred
Punctuation can be a tricky little devil, yes, but you should still know how to use periods, commas, apostrophes and quotations. You people have no idea how many of my friends' high school papers were a super pain in the butt to edit because they sucked at using punctuation (I was, and still am, the English Nazi Queen of CIHS [Cambridge Isanti High School] and I've edited and retyped numerous papers for friends and, surprisingly, teachers). I mean, seriously, is it that hard to use correct punctuation?? No. It's not. It's very easy, as long as you remember the fundamentals of English.
First off, ending punctuation marks can be easily determined based on the type of sentence you have: Is it a question, exclamation, declaration, or command?
Questions always end in question marks (?).
Exclamations always end in exclamation marks (!).
Declarations and Commands always end in periods (.).
There! Seriously, was that so hard to comprehend? No? Good, I was worried you were going to say yes!
Quotation marks go around sentences another person has spoken or written. When you quote someone, you have to put quotation marks at both ends of the sentence.
"I'm thirsty," Jenny said.
If the quote comes at the beginning of the sentence, and the sentence goes on to explain who said it and/or why, there should be a comma before the last quotation mark. If the quote is a question, it should have a question mark. Same goes for exclaimations.
We all know what colons (:) and semicolons (;) are. Colons are used to list things. Here's an example.
Things I should do today:
- Get up
- Eat breakfast
- Let the dogs outside
- Write a hub about grammar
- Watch tv
- Take a shower
- Get dressed
- Get ready for work
- Go to work
- Come home
- See just how awesome my grammar hub did
- Talk to some people
- Go to bed
Tada! A list! I'm amazing, aren't I? Colons are used to show you are going to list things, and these things can vary wildly.
Semicolons are used EXACTLY like periods. They indicate a break in the sentence, from one sentence to another.
My dog ate a squirrel; she didn't enjoy the taste very much.
They basically eliminate the need for conjunctions. They're to be used sparingly, though, because too many used in a paragraph makes readers think you don't know how to use commas.
Speaking of commas, (ha, I just used one! And again! I'm on a roll!) they have a number of uses. From breaking up sentences to explaining more detail, to lowering the importance of an interjection (an exclamation of excitement or emotion, such as Wow! or Ouch!), commas are simple to use; but watch out! If you use too many commas in one sentence, the sentence can be considered a run-on (meaning there are just too many independent clauses) and run-ons are bad. Dragging along a sentence for TOO long can lead to boredom from the reader, and that generally means they're going to stop reading.
Paranthesis are kind of like a writer's way of interceding a sentence with his or her own thoughts or with more information to explain a specific word or phrase used within the sentence. They should go after whatever it is you're trying to explain (like this, going behind a word) and before a comma (if there is to be a comma after the word you're explaining). Avoid putting punctuation marks inside parenthesis bubbles, because this may confuse a reader. Commas are okay, but ending punctuations can confuse people. Also, don't put an ending punctuation inside the parenthesis bubble after the sentence in the parenthesis, unless it won't match the punctuation mark at the end of the full outside sentence (like asking a question in here, but the sentence outside is a declarative sentence, would constitute the use of a question mark).
THE END! YAY!
Endings are hard to write, I swear...
Anywho, it is my dearest hope that you've learned something from this hub. And if you didn't, well... I just don't know what to tell you. Consider yourself a lost cause, you poor, poor human being you. If worse comes to worse, there's always Microsoft Office/Works word processing spell check (the thing has a built-in grammar check).
Enjoy your day, and have fun writing!
A few links to help you along!
- Grammar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Because Wikipedia pwns like that. :-P
- Guide to Grammar and Writing
The Guide to Grammar and Writing contains scores of digital handouts on grammar and English usage, over 170 computer-graded quizzes, recommendations on writing -- from basic problems in subject-verb agreement and the use of articles to exercises in p
- OWL: Handouts: Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling
"We offer you handouts and exercises on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. We also have PowerPoint presentations related to grammar..."
- Grammar Slammer--English Grammar Resource
Online demo of Grammar Slammer--Answers for all your English Grammar questions online