GrammarPhile Blog

8 Tips for Understanding, Learning, and Teaching Grammar Concepts

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Nov 1, 2018 7:30:00 AM

One poll highlighted by the Huffington Post revealed that most people are okay with using improper grammar in texts and emails. And then there are those of us who cringe every time a word is misspelled, a pronoun is misused, or an article or period is missing from a sentence … yes, even in text messages.

While we could blame technology for the downward spiral of proper grammar usage in everyday writing and communication, one could also argue that a lot of improper grammar usage boils down to how we understand, learn, and teach core grammar concepts (also known as the dumbing down of our culture).  

Here are eight tips and reminders for understanding, learning, and teaching grammar concepts. Think of this blog post as your helpful cheat sheet when you’re trying to figure out a grammar problem. (Keep in mind, though, this is not an exhaustive list of every grammar rule or technique out there.)

1. Remember the Eight Parts of Speech

Every real word is a “part of speech.” The function a word serves in a sentence is what makes it whatever part of speech it is. And it is possible for one word to serve as more than one part of speech even in one sentence.

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Topics: grammar rules, grammar errors, grammar

Grammar Drama: The 10 Most Hotly Debated Topics in Grammar

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jun 21, 2018 9:17:43 AM

Because the English language continues to evolve and change over time, grammar is not a subject exempt from hot debate, especially among professional writers, editors, and proofreaders.

Here’s a list of the ten most hotly debated topics in grammar. Take a gander and then share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

1. The Oxford Comma

It seems like the debate about whether to use the Oxford comma (a.k.a. the “serial comma”) will always be around. Some style guides petition for it to be used and others contend that it should never be used. So, who’s “right”? We may never know for sure.

Examples

With the Oxford Comma: I would like to make apple, raspberry and blueberry, and peach pies for the festival.

Without the Oxford Comma: I would like to make apple, raspberry and blueberry and peach pies for the festival.

Read The Oxford Comma: Use It or Ditch It? to learn more details about this long-standing grammar debate.

2. Two Spaces After a Period

Before word processors and computers were widely used, typewriters were used to type important documents, and it was common practice to insert two spaces after every sentence typed with a typewriter for better readability. Some businesses, industries, and teachers still require individuals typing documents on word processors now to insert two spaces after every period. Yet others think that doing this makes things harder to read.

Examples

With Two Spaces: Bob arrived to the meeting late.  At the meeting we discussed the budget.  

Without Two Spaces: Bob arrived to the meeting late. At the meeting we discussed the budget.  

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Topics: grammar

How to Connect with Your Audience Emotionally Using Grammar

Posted by Conni Eversull   Oct 19, 2017 7:30:00 AM

Using proper grammar to express emotions has fallen to the wayside in a world where individuals have become reliant on using things like emojis (😲 😃), italics, bolded font, and CAPITALIZED WORDS to express their emotions when they write. But that doesn’t mean grammar has suddenly become inept in this arena. On the contrary, there are many ways you can use grammar to express your emotions effectively to connect with your audience.

Mood

It shouldn’t be too surprising that you can use the mood of your verbs to connect emotionally with your audience. The mood of a verb shows a writer’s attitude toward what he or she is writing. There are three moods in the English language.

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Topics: grammar, indicative mood, subjunctive mood, imperative mood, active voice, passive voice

Grammar Rules You Can and Should Break in Your Marketing Copy

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 23, 2017 7:30:00 AM

 

As a writer and a professional, you should always strive to be grammatically correct. However, there are times when it’s less important to follow strict grammar rules and more important to connect with your audience. Especially when you’re attempting to inform or persuade an audience about an idea or product.

You can’t truly connect with your audience if you aren’t speaking their language. And if you truly want to speak their language, you will be conversational yet professional in your copy. Sometimes this means you’ll have to break some of the rules, like the ones listed below.

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Topics: grammar rules, grammar

The Great Grammar Debate: Results Are Surprisingly Lopsided

Posted by Terri Porter   Oct 20, 2016 7:00:00 AM

 

In the aftermath of the final showdown last night between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we offer a different kind of post-debate coverage — a look into where our readers stand on three grammar, style and usage questions that have long generated controversy … and apparently still do to some extent. Here, we present a summary of the responses from last week’s poll, along with a sampling of the numerous comments we received.

The results for all three questions were heavily skewed to one side, but the arguments for both sides of each issue were reasonable, on point and well-articulated. Most of the 123 respondents staunchly defended their position, but more than a few surprisingly acknowledged they could go either way or that they had changed their views after a longtime adherence to the opposite position.

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Topics: grammar, subjunctive form, Comma, Oxford comma, spacing

The Great Grammar Debate: Where Do YOU Stand?

Posted by Terri Porter   Oct 13, 2016 7:30:00 AM

 

Given the hullabaloo that marked the first two presidential debates, which undoubtedly will continue through the final face-off next week and beyond, now seems a good time to look at a different kind of debate — those controversial grammar, style and usage questions that can incite even the most reserved among us to dig in, square off and argue our position to the end.

We present three of the many issues that rankle grammar and style arbiters far and wide, along with the primary arguments for each side, then ask you, our audience, to weigh in. In addition to recording your vote on each issue, you’ll have an opportunity to comment on why you prefer one approach over the other (assuming you have a choice and aren’t bound by, say, a company style guide). There are no right or wrong answers — we’re just curious to see where people land on these questions. Post-election results and commentary to follow in next week’s post.

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Topics: grammar, subjunctive form, Oxford comma, Comma, spacing

Should You Correct Others’ Grammar?

Posted by Terri Porter   Aug 18, 2016 7:00:00 AM

The bounds of civility seem to be eroding faster than a sandcastle in a tsunami. Nowhere is this more evident than in social media. Any public forum in which readers can comment on another’s posting has become fertile ground for nit-picking, tongue-lashings, biting sarcasm and just plain rudeness — and more frequently, grammar bashing.

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Topics: grammar, correcting grammar

Miscellaneous Items...

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 23, 2013 5:30:00 AM

Here's a small collection of miscellaneous rules for grammar. Perhaps one will be something you can use in the next ten minutes.

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Topics: grammar, verbs

In Grammar, Possession is Less than Nine-Tenths of the Law

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Sep 13, 2012 5:30:00 AM

There are many rules in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It's important that you follow all of them in order to ensure that your documents are acceptable to all readers. We see many documents in which the authors' confusion regarding possessive punctuation is evident. The following list, taken from The Chicago Manual of Style(15th edition), will help clear things up:
  • Kansas's legislature
  • Chicago's lakefront
  • Burns's poems
  • Marx's theories
  • Berlioz's works
  • Strauss's Vienna
  • Dickens's novels
  • the Lincolns' marriage
  • William's reputation
  • the Williamses' new house
  • Malraux's masterpiece
  • Inez's diary
  • the Martinezes' daughter
  • Josquin des Prez's motets
  • dinner at the Browns' (that is, at the Browns' home)
  • FDR's legacy
  • 1999's heaviest snowstorm
  • Yahoo!'s chief executive
    Exceptions (for names of two or more syllables that end in an eez sound):
  • Euripides' tragedies
  • the Ganges' source
  • Xerxes' armies
    and (for words and names ending in unpronounced s)
  • Descartes' three dreams
  • the marquis' mother
  • Francois' efforts to learn English
  • Albert Camus' novels (the s is unpronounced)
    but
  • Raoul Camus's anthology (the s is pronounced)
    Other exceptions:
  • for righteousness' sake
  • for goodness' sake
  • for Jesus' sake
    but
  • Jesus's disciples

 

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Topics: possessives, punctuation, grammar

Evie eat it my muffin!

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jun 21, 2011 5:30:00 AM

You’re probably thinking “What does that title mean and what does it have to do with grammar and punctuation and writing?” Well, today, I thought I’d take a little break from our standard posts. I don’t know about you, but with summer almost here I know I’m starting to look forward to long hot summer days and some vacation time. So, here’s a post from a lighter side.

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Topics: grammar, punctuation, pronouns, verbs, sentences, documents

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