Category Archives: Teaching Grammar
What is a part of speech?
A part of speech is a group of words that are used in a certain way. All words in the English language are divided into eight different categories and each category has a different role or function in the sentence. Remember that in the English language many words are used in more than one way. This means that a word can function as several different parts of speech. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. In fact, the same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next. To know for sure what part of speech a word is, we have to look not only at the word itself but also at its meaning, position, and use in a sentence.
It’s crucial that you remember these 8…
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I’d love to see a book written about these exclusively.
The Grammar saga continues! Here are some Friday afternoon funsies for all you grammar lovers out there!
Here is some information from John Langan and Janet M. Goldstein’s English Brushup, 5th edition
Chapter 21- English Brushup- Numbers and Abbreviations
Guidelines for writing numbers:
- Spell out a number only if it can be written in one or two words
- Spell out any number that begins a sentence
- Be consistent when writing a series of numbers. If one or more numbers in a series need to be written as numerals, write them all as numerals
The carpenter bought 150 nails, 12 bolts, and 2 drill bits.
- Use numericals to write dates, times, addresses, percentages, portions of a book, and exact amounts of money that include change
Typically want to avoid using these in papers written for class. Here are some that are okay to use in formal writing:
- Titles that are used with proper names
Mrs. Richardson, Dr. Bell, Prof. George Smith
- Initials in a person’s name
Edgar A. Poe
- Time references (A.M., P.M., A.D., etc.)
- Organizations, technical words, and trade names referred to by their initials. Usually written in all caps and without periods
Chapter 22- English Brushup- Usage
Incorrect and correct expressions
|anyways, anywheres||anyway, anywhere|
|being as, being that||because, since|
|can’t help but, cannot hardly, cannot scarcely||can’t help, can hardly, can scarcely|
|could of, may of, might of, must of, should of, would of||could have, may have, might have, must have, should have, would have|
|kind of a||kind of|
|suppose to, use to||supposed to, used to|
|sure and, try and||sure to, try to|
|the reason is because||the reason is that|
|ways (meaning distance)||way|
Chapter 24- English Brushup- More about Subjects and Verbs
Sentences with more than one subject
A sentence might have a compound subject- in other words, more than one subject.
Ex. Ellen and Karla have started their part-time business.
Sentences with more than one verb
A sentence may have a compound verb- in other words, more than one verb.
Ex. They plan parties for other people and also provide all the refreshments.
Sentences with more than one subject and verb
A sentence might have both a compound subject and a compound verb.
Ex. In the last two weeks, Ellen and Karla arranged a wedding reception, catered a retirement dinner, and earned more than five hundred dollars.
Chapter 25- English Brushup- Verb Tense, Voice, Verbals, and Irregular Pairs
Refers to time
Tells us when the action took place
There are 12 major tenses in English
Present (now or habitually)
Past (already happened)
Future (going to happen)
Present Perfect (began in past and now completed or continuing in present) (has looked)
Past Perfect (happened before another past action) (had looked)
Future Perfect (is going to happen before some other future action) (will have looked)
Present Progressive (in progress) (is looking)
Past progressive (was in progress) (was looking)
Future progressive (will be in progress) (will be looking)
Present Perfect Progressive (was in progress and still is) (has been looking)
Past Perfect Progressive (was in progress until recently) (had been looking)
Future Perfect Progressive (will be in progress until a set time in the future) (will have been looking)
Active voice- action of the verb is done by the subject
– he takes the child home.
Passive voice – the action is done to the subject
– the child was taken home by him.
Formed from verbs, are used to describe people, places, and things
Infinitive- to plus a verb
– the children began to cry
Participle – present = verb + ing, past = verb + ed or irregular
– the crying frightened the child.
Gerund – verb + ing
– crying is sometimes very healthy.
-Lay / lie
-Sit / set
-Rise / raise
Here is some information from John Langan and Janet M. Goldstein’s English Brushup, 5th edition
Chapter 23 English Brushup- Mixed Constructions
These are sentences whose parts do not logically fit together
To correct one, try the following:
1. Turn the first part of the sentence into something that can be the subject
Mixed: By practicing six hours a day helped Sasha become a champion skater.
Corrected: Practicing six hours a day helped Sasha become a champion skater.
2. Turn the second part of the sentence into a complete statement.
Mixed: Just because you got your learner’s permit does not automatically give you permission to drive the car.
Corrected: Just because you got your learner’s permit, you do not automatically get permission to drive the car.
There are 3 word groups that lead to mixed constructions:
-IS (along with other forms of to be) is a linking verb so it needs to be followed by a subject complement (a noun), and not a dependent word like where, when, or because. It’s really just best to avoid using is when oris where altogether in definitions or when giving examples
Mixed: An approach-avoidance conflict is when someone is both attractedto and repelled by the same goal.
Corrected: An approach-avoidance conflict is a situation in which (or occurs when) someone is both attracted to and repelled by the same goal.
-reason is because
-To correct reason is because, eliminate reason or because
Mixed: The reason Tanya was promoted is because she is a hard worker.
Corrected: Tanya was promoted because she is a hard worker.
This must be a bear for ELLs as I know it is tough for many a native English speakers. I use mixed constructions often and probably will continue to do so if not paying attention when speaking.
Here are some additional grammar concepts as conveyed from my classmates and based on topics from English Brushup by John Langan and Janet M. Goldstein. Included are various websites and activities ideal for English Language Learners. Enjoy!
Hints for spelling better:
- Use aides- dictionaries or spell check on computers
- Keep a spelling list of all misspelled words. Show what is the correct spelling, and then give a clue or reason why it should be that way.
- Learn the most commonly confusing words and memorize them. (where / were, to / too, its / it’s)
- Apply basic spelling rules
- I before E except after C, or when sounded like an A, as in neighbor and weigh.
- Silent E rule: drop the ‘e’ before adding an ending- guide –ance = guidance
- Y rule: change the ‘y’ to an ‘I’ when the last 2 letters of the word are a consonant plus ‘y’, OR the ending being added begins with a vowel or is ‘ful’ ‘ly’ or ‘ness’
- Fly +es = flies
- Try +ed = tried
- Plenty + ful = plentiful
- Doubling rule: double the final consonant of the word when
- The last 3 letters of the word are a consonant, a vowel, and a consonant (CVC)
- The word is only one syllable
- The ending being added begins with a vowel
- Stop + ed = stopped
- Begin + ing = beginning
- Red + est = reddest
– Spelling in English is quite difficult. I can see how a student who is learning English would struggle with these spelling rules. As a high school teacher, I see many native English speakers who still struggle spelling correctly.
– A fun spelling practice site – http://www.manythings.org/e/spelling.html
Pronouns! Pronouns are tricky, especially for new language learners. Remember, there are different types of pronouns:
1. Subject pronouns
2. Object pronouns
3. Possessive pronouns
4. Relative pronouns
5. Demonstrative pronouns
6. Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns
7. Interrogative Pronouns
8. Indefinite pronouns
Essentially, there are tons of pronouns to learn! Are you confused it? And in actuality, they are not that difficult to classify. For example, indefinite pronouns refer to a pronoun that does not identify a specific object.
Parallelism “Two or more equal ideas should be expressed in parallel, or matching, form. The ideas will then read smoothly and naturally.” (p. 174)
“Faulty parallelism is jarring and awkward to read. “ Ex. The bowel was filled with crisp apples, juicy oranges, and bananas that were ripe.
The above sentence could be changed to: The bowel was filled with crisp apples, juicy oranges, and ripe bananas.
When To Use Parallelism:
1. A series of items
2. Offering choices
3. Making a point
Here is a little more info on teaching parallelism:
http://esl.about.com/od/writingstyle/a/w_parallel.htm (For more advanced ESL students)
This article is a little more basic and has a link to a worksheet to practice parallelism. The worksheet has a nice answer key with explanations that students may be able to use on their own to check their work. http://www.eslwriting.org/294/parallel-sentence-structure/
As we all know by now, adjectives describe nouns; that is, people, places, or things
-Found in two places
-Before the word it describes (a stinky dog)
-After a linking verb
-May be the verb be (I am stinky)
–Or others such as feel, look, sound, smell, taste, appear, seem, grow, remain, and become (I feel stinky)
Adjectives are often used in comparisons and change form when they do so
-Add –er to shorter adjectives (one syllable ones) comparing two things
-Add –est when comparing three or more things
No need to change form of adjectives with two or more syllables. Instead, use more to compare two things and most to compare three or more things
Never use –er ending and more; same goes for –est and most
And another note:
Certain adjectives have irregular forms
|Comparing 2||Comparing 3 or more|
Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs
-Most end in ly
–The clerk spoke to me rudely
–The clerk spoke to me very rudely (very is the adverb describing the adverb rudely)
Adverbs (and not adjectives) are used after an action verb
Important to pay attention to words like good and well
-Good is an adjective that indicates “talented” or “positive”
-Rufio is a good barker
-As an adverb, well often means “talented” or “positive”
-Rufio runs well
As an adjective, well means “healthy”
-Are you feeling well?
Adjectives and adverbs can be tricky for ELLs for many reasons. For starters, there are irregular adjective forms that don’t follow standard rules for modifying adjectives. Additionally, adjectives in English aren’t necessarily pluralized as they are in some other languages. In French, for example, adjectives agree in number and gender with the nouns they modify. Adjectives in French typically follow the noun they describe (with a few exceptions of course!), whereas Enlgish adjectives typically go before.
a green book (un livre vert)
green books (des livres verts)
Although a tad bland, teachers of ELLs can try some of these with their students:
Since adjectives often come after linking verbs like feel, smell, taste, etc. a fun lesson might include the use of these senses. Teacher and students can both bring in various food items, fabrics and textured items and describe them
This site has some good lessons to incorporate adjectives as well
Another site for adjective and adverb hands on lessons
And for adverbs
Grammar can be tough but you can be tougher! Here are some fun, interactive activities to share with your students.
Subjects and Verbs
A classic—School House Rocks Subjects and Predicates:
BrainPop Subjects and verbs:
Subject Verb Agreement
Here is a fun video that simply and slowly explains how to form complete sentences and stray away from run-on sentences. This is for young children.
For slightly older children, you could use this video that goes more in depth.
Comma Splices and Run-ons
This link is an interactive quiz on how to fix comma splices
To check comprehension:
Students can even exchange their work and check it for correctness.
Children can also read texts from their own favorite books, identify the commas and do their best to explain the logic behind each.