Posted in grammar, Uncategorized

Stuck at Home? Day 2

So, You’d Rather Work on Grammar?

Yesterday I offered some ideas for reading “classic” American playwrights online while holed up in your house. Germ-free lit, if you will.

Did you give it a go? Why do you think Miller named his protagonist “Willy Loman”?

“More!” you might be saying. “More! Please send more language fun!”

Don’t panic! Today we’re brushing up on grammar.

I’m not obsessed with grammar. I’m not mentally correcting people who talk or email me. Except when they misuse reflexive pronouns on national TV. But that’s a whole different blog post, in which I reveal my language directives for my children in case I die before they reach legal grammar age . . .

It’s worth noting, however, that many adults and teens who learn that I tutor tell me that they want to write better. They wish they’d learned more in school about the rules of effective communication.

Yes, it does really help to know your grammar. Schools that shy away from it are making a mistake.

Bear with me here. I know you’re saying, “But grammar is so boring! So dry! So pointless!”

Guess what? People say that all the time about math, and no one’s suggesting we give up on that.

And, for those who like math but develop migraines thinking about commas, I’ve got news that’s going to rock your world: grammar is run according to rules and formulas–wait for it–much like math is.

You can practice on sentences (math=homework problems) repeatedly and improve. I suggest the following progression, which will help you fix common sentence-level problems:

  1. Phrases vs. clauses
  2. Independent vs. dependent clauses
  3. Simple sentences
  4. Compound sentences
  5. Complex sentences
  6. Compound-complex sentences

Make sure to complete written exercises to reinforce every concept (yes, writing it out is better).

Sources for FREE online grammar info and exercises:

What’re you waiting for? I’ll be sitting right here, waiting for you to come back and correct my grammar!

(Or, if you want help to prep for related sections of the ACT/SAT, book below.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Grammar in the Real World

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

File under the category of “English in the Real World”: I got an email on Saturday from a friend who was at work. Is “fisher” a noun or verb? she wondered.

It makes a difference to me, she said.

She is a pastor and was writing her Sunday sermon. Words matter for pastors, don’t they?

Pastor Pal was asking about two different translations of Matthew 4:19, which was rendered:

  1. “Follow me and I will make you fish for people” AND
  2. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
  3. She also had the original Greek to consider.

What’s the difference here? As Pastor Pal correctly noted, #2 above with the noun “fishers” has Jesus promising that he will change his followers from one thing (fishers of fish) into another (fishers of people). The Greek concurred.

In #1, Jesus says he will change his followers’ activity–from literal fishing to fishing for people.

Grammar IS meaning here. We have to choose between Jesus changing what we DO or what we ARE.

My favorite kind of question to get from a friend! I’m happy to reply any time!

To learn about the infinitive phrase that appears in #1,” see Grammar Monster. This website looks like a great free resource for exactly this type of question.