Main Grammar for Everyone: Practical Tools for Learning and Teaching Grammar
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Grammar for Everyone Practical tools for learning and teaching grammar Practical tools for learning and teaching grammar Barbara Dykes ACER Press First published 2007 by ACER Press, an imprint of Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd 19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Victoria, 3124 www.acerpress.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Text © Barbara Dykes 2007 Design and typography © 2007 ACER Press This book is copyright. All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia and subsequent amendments, and any exceptions permitted under the current statutory licence scheme administered by Copyright Agency Limited (www.copyright.com.au), no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or broadcast in any form or by any means, optical, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher. Edited by Ruth Siems Cover design by mightyworld Text design by Mason Design Typeset by Mason Design Cover illustration by mightyworld Illustrations by Fiona Katauskas Printed in Australia by BPA Print Group National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication data: Dykes, Barbara, 1933- . Grammar for everyone: practical tools for learning and teaching grammar. Bibliography. Includes index. ISBN 9780864314789 (pbk.). 1. English language - Grammar - Study and teaching (Tertiary). 2. English language - Grammar - Problems, exercises, etc. I. Title. 428.207 Foreword After four years as Minister for Education, Science and Training, I now have the responsibility of focusing on Defence. These days my office walls are covered with photos of service men and women and souvenirs from visits to battlefields and bases. But the largest portrait in my Canberra office is still of someone I have the highest admiration for and who continues to remind me of what is really important – the late Neville Bonner. Born and raised in extreme poverty, Neville Bonner said the turning poi; nt in his life was the advice he received at age 14 from his grandmother, who told him that if he learned to read and write, communicate well and treat other people with decency and courtesy, that it would take him a long way. Neville Bonner went on to become the first Indigenous member of the Federal Parliament, from where he not only served his country, but helped break down barriers within it. If information is the currency of democracy, how can Austra lians participate unless they are able to read and write? In December 2005, I launched the findings of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. As mentioned in this inquiry, around 8% of Year 3 students and around 11% of Year 5 students are not achieving the minimum National Benchmarks for Reading. It noted the obvious correlation between poor literacy and under-achievement, and consequent adverse affects on individuals and society, including problems with self-esteem, mental health, substance abuse and crime. iii iv f oreword The inquiry noted the critical importance of teachers. But it also concluded that, unfortunately, the systematic support for classroom teachers to build the appropriate skills to teach reading effectively is inadequate. The Australian Council for Educational Research plays an important role in creating and disseminating knowledge and providing tools that can be used to improve learning. Barbara Dykes is to be commended for the outstanding job she has done with this excellent publication. As its name suggests, Grammar for Everyone seeks to provide practical tools for learning and teaching grammar – for everyone. Grammar for Everyone provides a thorough reference guide for the different types of word, guidance for correct punctuation, instruction for optimal sentence structure and advice for a correct, clear and persuasive way to speak and write. Most importantly, Grammar for Everyone offers excellent advice for those in a position to teach others. Australia must be a nation that values learning, has the highest admiration for those who teach and gets behind those who provide knowledge and research that can help students and teachers alike. Australia is a wonderful country, with so much to offer. We must do everything we can to make sure all Australians can read, write and communicate well, so that they can reach their full potential, take advantage of the many opportunities available to them and fully participate in our society. The Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson MP Contents Foreword Part I Teaching grammar iii I Grammar – background and history 3 Teaching strategies for the contemporary classroom 8 Practical suggestions Part II The parts of speech Introduction 1 Nouns Common nouns Proper nouns Collective nouns Abstract nouns Revision of nouns Things we can say about nouns Number 14 II 21 22 22 23 25 27 29 30 30 vi c ontents Gender Case 32 34 2 Pronouns Personal pronouns Demonstrative pronouns 35 35 38 3 Verbs Finite and non-finite verbs Tense Simple and continuous verbs Auxiliary (helper) verbs 41 41 44 45 49 4 Adjectives Adjectives formed from nouns and verbs Words that can be used as several parts of speech Adjectives of degree and comparison 53 56 56 58 5 Adverbs Adverbs of time Adverbs of place Adverbs of manner Interrogative adverbs Comparative adverbs Irregular adverbs of comparison 62 63 63 63 64 64 64 6 Articles The indefinite article The definite article 68 69 69 7 Prepositions 71 8 Conjunctions Coordinating conjunctions Subordinating conjunctions 73 73 73 9 Interjections 75 10 Sentence forms Statements Questions 76 76 76 contents Commands Exclamations 77 77 11 The apostrophe Contractions Possession Avoiding confusion 80 80 81 82 12 Commas The comma separates A comma before the word ‘and’ 84 85 86 13 Inverted commas 89 14 Subject and predicate Abbreviations 92 95 15 Objects – direct and indirect The direct object The indirect object I or me? The complement 97 97 100 101 103 16 More about verbs Subjects matching verbs Transitive and intransitive verbs Active and passive voice 108 109 111 113 17 Participles Present participles Past participles Adjectival participles and gerunds 116 116 117 118 18 Perfect tenses The present perfect tense The past perfect tense The future perfect tense 122 122 122 123 19 More about adjectives and adverbs Numeral adjectives Indefinite adjectives 128 128 128 vii viii c ontents Quantitative adjectives Interrogative adjectives Possessive adjectives Adverbs of comparison Adverbs modifying other parts of speech Adverbs formed from adjectives 128 129 129 130 130 131 20 More punctuation Colons Semicolons Hyphens Parentheses – brackets and dashes Ellipsis 132 132 134 135 136 137 21 More pronouns Interrogative pronouns Possessive pronouns Indefinite and distributive pronouns 139 139 140 140 22 Emphasis 143 23 Mood Indicative mood Imperative mood Subjunctive or conditional mood 145 146 146 146 24 Case Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive Vocative 150 150 150 150 151 151 25 Phrases Adjectival phrases Adverbial phrases Noun phrases 153 154 155 155 contents 26 Clauses Main clauses Subordinate clauses Adjectival clauses and relative pronouns Adverbial clauses Adverbial clause of time Adverbial clause of place Adverbial clause of reason Adverbial clause of manner Adverbial clause of condition Adverbial clause of result Adverbial clause of purpose Adverbial clause of concession Adverbial clause of comparison Noun clause 160 162 163 164 167 168 168 169 169 170 170 171 172 172 174 27 Clause analysis Format 1 – clause analysis chart Format 2 – clause analysis table Format 3 – clause analysis tree 177 178 179 182 28 Word building 188 29 Improve the way you speak and write Confusion between words Past tense and past participle Double negatives Double comparatives Redundant adverbs 192 192 195 195 196 196 30 A final word 198 Bibliography Glossary Index 200 202 208 ix Dedication To my daughter and business partner Sarah, who is my constant supporter and critic. And to Gavin, also our business partner, supporter and friend. Acknowledgment Thank you to my husband John who suffers my long work hours and sometime distraction! and Karen Pennell, my patient and efficient typist who reads my handwriting remarkably well. Also I acknowledge all of our Quantum Literacy Tutors, supporters and friends, who have been enthusiastically awaiting the book. I Part I Teaching grammar This page intentionally left blank Grammar – background and history … Grammar instruction The word ‘grammar’ often invokes a negative reaction in both teachers and students. Many teachers have come through a period in which grammar was neglected; for others, grammar has been taught in a haphazard way. What has brought about this situation? During the 1960s and 70s, many believed that traditional elements of scholarship should be updated to suit the practices of contemporary education. There followed a period of uncertainty. No one was sure whether grammar instruction should take place or not. Often, if they believed it should, the new curriculum failed to allow it. However, many in the profession believed that the absence of grammar instruction was contributing to a lowering of literacy levels. As a return to the grammar instruction courses of the past would be unacceptable, a supposed solution was devised – a system which became known as new or functional grammar. This system involved the generalisation of grammatical terms, and stressed the function that language performs, rather than the parts of speech described in traditional grammar. But before the age of 12 or 13 – long after the need for basic grammar tuition – children do not normally begin to think in abstract terms. No wonder that both parents and teachers complained that the children disliked ‘new’ grammar, while they themselves found it difficult to follow. G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language, wrote, ‘In the popular mind, grammar has become difficult and distant, removed from real life, and practised chiefly by a race of shadowy people (grammarians) whose technical apparatus and terminology require a lengthy novitiate before it can be mastered … It is a shame because the fundamental point about grammar is so very important and so very simple.’ The final statement is the significant one. We need to show that grammar need not be dry or tedious, but can be both fascinating and relevant. Some of you may have received no grammar instruction at all; others may have been offered it in a random fashion, eclipsing its true function. Grammar provides a whole cohesive system concerning the formation and transmission of language. The question is, how do we pass on this knowledge? Firstly we need to understand it ourselves and, even better, develop that passion and enthusiasm in our students. I trip (verb) over the rug (noun) and then you say I’m clumsy (adjective)! gr ammar – b ack ackground ground and history What is grammar? We all use grammar from the time that we can speak in intelligible sentences, because grammar deals with ‘the abstract system of rules in terms of which a person’s mastery of his native language can be explained.’ We assume that it all happens naturally and are only confronted with the need to understand and define how English works when we learn another language or attempt to teach English to others. So how might we define grammar? The simplest and perhaps the truest definition is ‘a language to talk about language’. Just as one cannot explain how a motor engine functions (or is failing to function) without naming words for its parts and their specific actions, so it is impossible to explore the function of words and the part they play in forming meaningful language without a naming procedure. It is impossible, for example, to offer a meaningful explanation for why we say ‘did it well’ rather than ‘did it good’ if there is no shared understanding of the language for talking about language – to explain that ‘good’ being an adjective qualifies a noun, e.g. ‘He did a good job,’ but ‘well’, an adverb, is used for adding meaning to a verb, e.g. ‘He did it well.’ The history of grammar Whatever subject we are teaching, it becomes more interesting and meaningful, both to us and to our students, when we know something about its origin and history. This is no less true of grammar. The word ‘gramma’ meaning ‘letter’ has come down to us in a path through several languages. In early times, the craft of using letters and constructing messages with the use of symbolic markings was seen to indicate magical powers, causing some early Crystal, D., 1995, The Cambridge encyclopaedia of the English language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE scholars to be seen as dealers in witchcraft and consequently eyed with suspicion. The word ‘glamour’, meaning a deceptive charm, derived from the same source. However, in modern usage this word has lost much of its detrimental connotation. Of course, no one invented grammar – it was there all along, an intrinsic part of the first meaningful speech uttered by human beings and, likewise, of their first meaningful writings. But at some point, interested scholars were inspired to make a study of it and its systems, both for their own better understanding and to enhance the language skills of their students – the same aim that we, as teachers, have today. The study of grammar is believed to have its origins in both India and Greece. In India it was for the study of recited forms of Sanskrit, and in Greece for the study of written language. It is the latter that provides the source of our own studies. Grammar and literacy are intrinsically bound. One of the first to formulate a system of grammar was Dionysus Thrax, from Alexandria. His ‘The Art of Letters’ required students to first learn their letters in strict order (just as we do with our alphabet), then proceed to letter combinations, forming syllables in increasing length, from simple to complex word forms. Thrax’s grammar, which he defined as ‘technical knowledge of the language of poets and writers’, established a model for the teaching of all European languages. Through the following centuries, various scholars have set their own mark on the development of grammatical thought. Philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates realised the impor tance of grammar for all forms of language expression, particularly public speaking (rhetoric) and debate. A Roman, Marcus Varre, produced 25 volumes on the subject, translating the Greek and then applying the grammar to Latin. Interest then spread around the world, with grammarians of other countries comparing the features of their languages with those of Latin. The best-known early English grammarian was Ben Jonson, who also based his work on Latin. He made a particular study gr ammar – b ackground and history of punctuation for which he had his own rather heavy versions adhering to the theory that one should punctuate as one wishes one’s work to be read or orally delivered, as well as to determine meaning in a logical way. Then the 1760s ‘witnessed a striking outburst of interest in English Grammar’ and among the best-known grammars was that of Robert Lowth, a clergyman and later Bishop of London. Lowth sought to remedy the dearth of simple grammar textbooks, but he earned criticism for judging the language as well as describing it. His pedantic approach led to such oft-quoted prescriptions as the inappropriateness of ending a sentence with a preposition. Lowth’s work was followed by others, giving rise to the form ulation of basic grammar principles and agreement on some points of usage. The principle of the supremacy of usage, which is still supported today, was established by Joseph Priestley, who stated: ‘It must be allowed that the custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language.’ In 1898, Nesfield and Wood co-authored the Manual of English Grammar and Composition which ran concurrently with Nesfield’s 1900 text An Outline Of English Grammar. Certainly these would appear dull and tedious to most modern students, but they do, nevertheless, provide excellent detailed explanations for those of more linguistic bent. Baugh, Albert C, & Cable, Thomas 1987, A history of the English language, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. ibid. Teaching strategies for the contemporary classroom Definitions and explanations We know it – can we explain it? Because we know something, it does not follow that we can explain it to others – especially to a child who may learn in quite a different way from you – his teacher. For example, take the concept of a syllable. Most of us have some understanding of what a syllable is, but when asked to show how one would explain it to students you might get something like this: ‘It’s part of a word.’ But so is a letter! ‘It’s when you break it up …’ Similarly for a letter. ‘Try again,’ you say. ‘It’s got a vowel in it.’ Better, but so has any word! Eventually you put it all together to give an accurate definition: a unit of speech (consisting of) a word, or part of a word, containing one sounded vowel. Or for adult students: a segment of speech, uttered with one emission of breath (the breath is emitted with the sounding of the vowel). … tea chin g str ateg ies for the conte m porary cl assroom So, to teach about syllables we need first to be sure that we understand what they are ourselves; then we need to put that information across in the best way to suit the age and stage of the students. This will require a full explanation of the definition, which can be done with practical demonstrations such as clapping, or feeling when the jaw drops for the utterance of the vowel. Rule 1: Know your definition or at least have a good dictionary handy so you can check. Rule 2: Remember to give your definition (as the dictionary does) in the same part of speech as the word being defined. Rule 3: Keep the definition as simple as possible while maintaining all aspects essential to accuracy. Rule 4: Discuss with examples to increase understanding and application. Rule 5: Take note of words with two or more meanings, but the same spelling (homonyms) such as chest, bulb. Rule 6: Practise! And use the words in both oral and written sentences. Animating teaching strategies for all learning styles Often the mistake is made of assuming that what seems to be a purely academic subject such as grammar can be taught only in a dry unimaginative way. But this is far from true. Awareness of the need for more active involvement in learning has come about with the greater understanding of how the brain works, and the accompanying recognition that people vary considerably in their learning modes. In addition, the importance of teaching to the whole brain through multisensory activities cannot be over-emphasised. We know then that people learn in a variety of ways. Even within one family we often see that what works with one child may be useless for another. One may learn to read just by looking at letters or matching words and pictures; a more auditory child will absorb information principally by listening and repetition; 10 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE yet another needs motion and physical connection in order to ‘inbuild’ the information. So, while the more sedentary skills of reading and writing are an essential component of grammar education, active learning with kinetic exercises can play a vital part in reinforcement, especially with younger age groups. By delivering instruction in a variety of creative ways, using all the channels to the brain, we are ensuring not only that all students can benefit, but also that they will enjoy their lessons. Gender differences Though it was probably never in doubt, research techniques show that boys, in general, are less inclined to sit at tasks for lengthy periods. They prefer, and need, more physical activity.4 This may involve, firstly, varying activities centred on a learning unit and, secondly, allowing more short breaks or including creative activities for practice and reinforcement.5 Sometimes, offering choices is a good strategy, particularly with a mixed class. Confident language mastery Developing confident language skills is arguably the most important outcome of our teaching procedure. The term ‘language principles’ refers to a body of core essentials for understanding and manipulating one’s language, and indeed, learning a foreign one. Certain principles govern the use of every language and relate to such things as word meaning (and accuracy), the arrangement of words or word groups in a sentence (syntax), stress given to certain parts of a word and, in most languages, the use of punctuation. 4 5 Cole, Martin 2001, ‘Equality boss hits special help for boys’, Courier Mail, 22 February; House of Representatives, Standing Committee on Education and Training 2002, Boys: Getting it right, report on the inquiry into the education of boys, [AGPS], Canberra. Macmillan, Bonnie 1997, Why schoolchildren can’t read, Institute of Economic Affairs, London. tea chin g str ateg ies for the conte m porary cl assroom Most modern languages have systems that indicate number (singular or plural) and tense (when something takes place, i.e. in the present, past or future). Another important distinction denotes the purpose of a statement, i.e. is it just a simple statement, asking a question or giving a command. Intonation It is important, too, to be aware of some of the principles, or at least guidelines for the way we use our voices and thereby convey the purpose of our utterance. It is easy to overlook the fact that we cannot use intonation in written communication – neither can we be asked to repeat or clarify it; our writing must convey all our intentions. Test the following passage by reading it in monotone. ‘Hello Dad. Oh no! Mick’s just fallen in the fishpond. Get out.’ ‘Help, help.’ ‘He can’t. Get a rope. Quick!’ ‘Catch the rope. Good. How did you manage to fall in? Now I’m all wet.’ The same passage written without punctuation would be impos sible to interpret accurately. Ambiguity As teachers, we need to be highly conscious of the potential for ambiguity that exists in a language like English, which depends heavily on word order for meaning. A typical kind of ambiguous sentence is that in which a clause is misplaced, for example: ‘Sisters were united after 30 years in the check-out queue.’ Instructions and examples need to be carefully monitored to avoid confusion, and students need to be made aware of this problem in their own writing and speaking. 11 12 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Long-term memory We always aim for our students to retain our teaching in the long-term memory. The human brain actually encompasses infinite memory but the secret of retrieval lies in how we record information in the first place. We can use the analogy of a computer, which is itself designed to imitate the operation of the human brain. We know that we have to install a computer program in a totally accurate way; omitting even one dot may impede its function. Then once the program has been successfully installed, we are able to add information to its files and recall it at the click of a mouse. As the human brain can store infinitely more information than any computer, we can see the importance of accurately filing the information that we want it to retain. By ensuring that our teaching follows a logical progression, we are enabling each detail to be filed systematically; only in that way do we establish a fully functioning system for recall. The best time to learn Looking at English books for seniors it seems amazing that students at this level are having phrases and clauses explained to them long after they should be manipulating them confidently and showing a high degree of language competence. No wonder they are bored and frustrated at what, to them, must seem belated and therefore irrelevant. Ideally, this information should form a substantial part of the English curriculum in upper primary so that correct forms of sentence structure have been well practised by the time that the mature student needs to concentrate more on subject matter. Upper primary years can be perceived as the preparation time during which skills are honed, furnishing students with the abil ity to read and write competently in a variety of subject areas. Moreover, the junior student is far more receptive to training in the tea chin g str ateg ies for the conte m porary cl assroom basic mechanics of language, and while the teacher has an ongoing responsibility to coach and direct, the more mature mind should now be exploring more creative ways of manipulating language for a variety of purposes. Structure the program Because grammar is such a structured science, it is of the greatest importance that we teach it in a structured way. As it pertains to everyday speech and writing, to the visible and concrete as well as the abstract objects in life, it is not difficult to start grammar instruction in the third year of schooling. Once children have mastered the requirements of a sentence – that it ‘starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop’ – they have already been trained in two rudimentary principles of grammar. Now we need to establish the foundation on which our structure is to be built, namely the parts of speech, and the terminology, definition and function of each one. The order in which we teach these also forms a logical sequence. Using the logical progression of simple to complex allows us to teach in easy steps whereby one concept fits on to the previous one to form a cohesive whole, just as by building brick by brick, we can construct a solid and stable wall. As this book is designed for all teachers, including some who have learnt little or no grammar themselves, it is important that all detail is included. If you choose to skip, bear in mind that tips, activity suggestions and tutors’ discoveries are all included. 13 Practical suggestions First, provide all students with an exercise book in which to build up their own reference text. Teaching and understanding concepts Sometimes students will have a good idea about a concept long before they can put a name to it; for example, most will be well aware of tense long before they know the term or realise that there is one, simply because they are expressing it naturally in every statement they make. We teach these things so that they can talk about them, understand how to use them correctly and well, and know how to apply them to other languages. 14 … P ractic al su ggestions Concepts are taught, ideally, when they arise naturally in context and teachers may take quick opportunities to divert attention to certain aspects that arise. This is not always possible in a demanding curriculum, and either way, some terms may be explained in a simple manner and discussed and practised more fully when they arise in the curriculum. For example, a child learns early that a sentence can consist of a noun and a verb. The verb must have a subject for it to make sense. The term ‘predicate’ can be explained later. It is true that children do like ‘long’ words but they should understand them and not be bogged down with them in a meaningless way. Homework Homework should always be brief in the early stages – never onerous. To be effective it should be based on the learning of the same day, providing revision and consolidation, bearing in mind that much of what we learn will be forgotten if not reinforced within 12 hours. Introducing lessons It is a good idea to vary the way in which you introduce a subject, especially if you are teaching reluctant students. Some students may be turned off by the mention of grammar, so be creative. Rather than beginning your lesson with something like ‘Today we are going to do verbs’, you might plunge straight into an activity, the purpose of which is explained later. For example, you might ask the students to say what they did last evening or this morning before school. At the end of the discussion a list of the ‘doing’ words (verbs) mentioned could be made. A discussion could evolve from asking students what they had for tea the day before. After all have had a turn, some of the answers could be written on the board. 15 16 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Dan had curry and rice Julie had shepherds pie etc. Each answer forms the object of the sentence. To ensure that the lesson is remembered, the students might each write a sentence telling of something they would not like to have – the sentences to be read out. For example: I would not like snake’s eggs. I would not like squashed toad. Mediums and learning aids Use a variety of mediums. Students enjoy writing on the board, writing on concrete with chalk, and making charts. Charts drawn on large sheets of project card can be laminated, then written on with erasable whiteboard markers. practic al su ggestions Kinetic activities Miming, acting skits and charades are all useful activities for reinforcing grammar concepts. They can be composed and performed in groups or acted spontaneously. These are important for kinetic learners and create memorable lessons. Learning games Much practice can be given by using containers from which students pick cards or pieces of paper. These could be printed with words or questions to be used and scored in numerous ways. Wall charts/posters These are always helpful and most effective when students make them themselves or help to make them. For example: a. Singular Object subject b. c. Plural Object subject I me we us you you you you he/she/it him/her/it they them Adjective Noun wise wisdom wide width hot heat Few (a number you can count) Less (some you can’t count) eggs rice people sand slices rain 17 18 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Handouts Use handouts with discretion. Ask yourself whether they will really have a learning outcome or are they just providing ‘busy’ work. They can be useful additions to student information, providing examples, summaries and reference material, but for maximum learning, discussion activities and constructing their own sentences and charts is important. The end product of instruction should be greater knowledge and increased skill. For example, in teaching about adjectives the students need skill in using adjectives effectively in their own creative sentences. Circling words and filling in blanks provides little opportunity for the development of the imagination or improvement in writing expression – which should be the end product of successful teaching. II Part II The parts of speech This page intentionally left blank Introduction … It is easy to assume that secondary school students would already know what a noun is. But when the time comes to build on that knowledge, for example to investigate noun forms such as noun phrases and clauses and their role in the sentence, we realise that the foundation we are about to build on may itself be shaky. Make sure to give a definition with a full explanation for each part of speech. Then follow with reinforcement activities geared to the level of the students. Practice exercises will reveal any defi ciencies in their understanding. Common and proper nouns are easy to understand by even the youngest students. Collective and abstract nouns, being less obvious, may be left a little longer or until they figure incidentally during teaching. By practising these terms, students are also enabled to increase their vocabulary and gain confidence from the ability to spell. For each category about to be learnt, students should firstly be given, according to their age and learning level: • a definition of the term, with discussion • examples, preferably written on the board The students, themselves, should then be able to: • give the definition, i.e. correctly answer the question ‘What is a …?’ • give examples (or word groups) in that category • recognise examples in a sentence or list of words • use each one correctly in a sentence Older students may also learn the origins of the words, as given in the following definitions, or in a dictionary. 21 1 Nouns Nouns mean every thing to us! Definition: The word ‘noun’ comes from Latin nomen meaning ‘name’. A noun is the name of a thing. Everything that exists has a name, whether you can see it or not. A blind person cannot see something, but that does not mean that it isn’t there! It may only exist in our minds, like hope, beauty or calories. There are four kinds of nouns. Common nouns These are names of everyday things that we can see, hear or touch. For example: table, banana, volcano, song We can put the word ‘the’ in front of them and make sense, as in: the rope, the poison If it does not make sense, the word cannot be a noun. A 1.1 Activities: common nouns Students could do the following: 1. Walk outside, touch and name things as they pass. This is especially popular with young children. 2. Walk outside. Come back in and name the things that they saw. In class, the children can take turns to name one thing without repeating any. 22 nouns 3. As above, then write down the things that they saw. Read the list aloud. Write the words on the board. 4. Using pictures of indoor or outdoor scenes provided, students name 23 A or list the objects they see in their picture. This activity is particularly popular with ESL students of any age. 5. Make sentences using some of the selected words, underlining each noun. 6. Play any form of the ever-popular parlour game ‘The Old Oak Chest’, in which students in turn name items found in the Old Oak Chest, each person repeating the list in its correct order and adding one item of their own. This game can be played in a variety of ways, such as naming articles bought at the market, or found under the Christmas tree. 7. List things beginning with letters in alphabetical order. For their own reference, students should write a heading NOUNS in their grammar exercise books, followed by an accurate definition and several examples. Checklist: common nouns Students should now be able to: • correctly answer the question ‘What is a noun?’ • say one way to be sure that a word is a noun • give examples of common nouns • recognise nouns in sentences • use each noun in a sentence Proper nouns Definition: The word ‘proper’ comes from the French word propre meaning one’s own, i.e. belonging to a particular person or thing. Proper nouns are the special names that we give to people, places and particular things like the days of the week, months of the year, or even the titles of books or TV shows. C 24 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE For example: Jason, Town Hall, China, French, The Wishing Chair Because they are special and individual names, they start with a capital letter and, apart from people, most of these things have only one proper name. A 1.2 Activities: proper nouns Students could do the following: 1. Draw a large simple flowchart in their grammar exercise books. It should have four lines, since we have four kinds of nouns. We fill in the first two and add the remaining two later on. Students choose their own example to add below each class head ing. Remember that all the proper nouns must start with a capital letter. NOUNS common dog breakfast proper Anne India collective abstract 2. Name the members of their family. This may be done in the form of a family tree. For example: Stan (Father) Julie (sister) Alma (Mother) Luke (brother) 3. Write answers naming, for example: a. a friend b. a fish Glen (me) nouns c. a town d. a horse e. a book f. a country g. a famous person h. a kind of car i. a sportsperson j. a building 4. Draw a real or imaginary ‘mud map’ and label it with names of streets. Add and label with a name: a bridge, a river, a person, a hill, a church, a shop and any more of their choice, such as a dog, a horse and so on. Some of these exercises provide excellent group activities and can be done in teams, and on the board. Some exercises should always be done in the Grammar Exercise Book to serve for reference and for revision. Collective nouns Definition: These are names for groups of things, animals or people, which go together, or have something in common. For example: A number of people in a group singing is a choir. A number of cows in a group is a herd. Note here that if the group word is singular then the verb following must also be singular. For example: Correct – The choir was rehearsing in the chapel. Incorrect – The choir were rehearsing in the chapel. There may, of course, be more than one group. In which case the verb will be plural. The choirs were competing in the final. 25 A 26 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 1.3 Activities: collective nouns Children enjoy discovering the group names of various kinds of wildlife, while adults often come across them in quizzes and crossword puzzles. 1. Which team can answer first? Give the collective noun for: a. soldiers of a country (army) b. many people gathered in one place (crowd/mob) c. flowers (bunch) d. people in a play (cast) e. a group of sheep (mob) f. people in a line (queue) g. trees growing together (forest/wood/grove) h. piglets born together (litter) i. things thrown on top of one another (heap/pile/dump) j. knives, forks and spoons (cutlery) These questions can be asked and answered in writing and scored individually or in teams. 2. Students think of more collective nouns in a set time period. 3. Young students particularly, draw examples from the answers above. They should label their drawings with the correct collective nouns. 4. Students use a given number of the chosen nouns in sentences which are then read aloud. Humorous ones are very much enjoyed and most likely to be remembered. 5. Students research, using a dictionary, to find out the meaning of various words. They then write the thing that they apply to, for example: library – books for borrowing pack fleet pride union troop train council formation lineage compendium 6. Students choose a group word and act or mime it in the form of a charade, for others to guess, for example: audience – they act watching, clapping etc. nouns 7. Students should now fill in the third leg of their flowchart in their grammar exercise books. 27 A NOUNS common proper collective choir library abstract Abstract nouns Definition: Abstract nouns form what can be the most difficult group to understand, as they represent ideas, and have no physical substance that you can see or touch. The idea may be of quality, for example: beauty, greed, intelligence or the idea may be a state that is felt or suffered, for example: joy, misery, neglect. It may be the act of something, for example: duty, aggression. It may even be an event or happening, for example: conversation, pause. 1.4 Activities: abstract nouns Scenarios explain these most clearly to children and they also enjoy acting them. They provide excellent opportunities for group discussion and the extension of vocabulary. A 28 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 1. What feeling would you have if …? (Students suggest suitable abstract nouns.) a. your internet connection kept bombing out b. you won an art competition c. you visited your friend in hospital and found her covered in bandages d. your favourite show was cancelled e. you were running late for your appointment f. the principal called you to the office g. your dog died h. you were invited to a wedding i. you found a cockroach in your dinner j. you saw Halley’s Comet 2. Students describe an example of various acts. For example: an act of rudeness, willpower. 3. Students write an abstract noun for each of the following: The feeling you have when you are: a. afraid b. pleased c. grieving d. feeling sick e. sorry f. enjoying something g. tired h. worried i. angry j. hostile There may be more than one good answer in which case the choice can be discussed. 4. Students could write short skits and act them out to illustrate ab stract nouns such as those in 2 and 3 above. 5. Now students should fill in the fourth and last leg of the flowchart in their grammar exercise books. nouns NOUNS common proper collective abstract joy fame etc. 29 A Revision of nouns Many of the activities are suitable for homework. They should always provide an expansion or consolidation process following class work. For example, words could be picked during class time for sentences to be written at home, or skits may be written for acting in school. 1.5 Activities: revision of nouns These activities are very popular. 1. Have a large number of small cards (say 5 x 6 cm) with nouns from every category printed, one on each. The cards are placed in a container in the centre of the group. Students in turn take one card from the container, read the word aloud and say which kind of noun it is, common, proper, collective or abstract. If the answer is correct, the student keeps hold of the card, if not it is returned to the container. The student or team who claims the most correctly answered cards wins. 2. Students in turn take one card (or a given number) from the container. They write the word in their exercise book, name the category and write a sentence using it correctly. They underline the noun. This activity can also be done orally. It keeps the class alert! bones common noun My dog loves to chew bones. heat abstract noun We felt the heat as the hut burnt down. 3. Students are presented with a passage from a story they are reading and point out or write down the nouns they can find in it. A 30 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE My dog loves to chew bones. Things we can say about nouns At the risk of offending some scholars, it seems pedantic to insist on the retention of Latin and Greek plurals for common words which are clearly now part of our language, just as many words absorbed from other languages over past centuries now conform to English usage. It seems therefore logical that the plural of curriculum and syllabus should be curriculums and syllabuses. But both forms are acceptable and should not be corrected. Greek and Latin for medical, botanical and other scientific terms is favoured and the unscholarly person’s answer to this is to come up with everyday readily recognisable names, such as dove (Greek ptilinopus) and daylily (Hermerocallis). Number Number tells us whether there is just one thing or more than one. In English the formation of plurals is simpler than in many other languages. nouns It is a good idea, especially for younger and ESL students, to explain the various ways in which we make plurals, as they can cause some confusion. 1. For most nouns, we just add ‘s’ to form the plural. For example: one hat two hats one fire five fires 2. For some words it is difficult to add ‘s’ alone – try saying box with just ‘s’ on the end. For such words, we insert the vowel sound ‘e’ for ease of pronunciation. For example: one box two boxes one lunch two lunches 3. Although our language has been simplified in many ways over time, some old forms have stayed, largely due to earlier pro nunciation. Among these are a number of words in which the inside vowel changes between singular and plural. These just have to be learnt. For example: one man two men one mouse three mice 4. We also have plurals made by adding ‘en’. For example: one chick ten chickens one ox a team of oxen Other examples of irregular plurals include: child children die dice leaf leaves sheep sheep woman women 31 32 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE foot feet goose geese ESL students need to learn these especially, as they may not be familiar with hearing them spoken. Gender Gender is a grammatical term for classifying nouns according to masculine, feminine or neuter. The classification is largely irre levant in English, which does not attribute gender to inanimate objects. Many languages do, however, for no obvious reason. For example: in French we have la chaise (feminine) meaning chair but le tabourer (masculine) meaning stool la pierre (feminine) meaning stone but le roc (masculine) meaning rock Note, too, how the article (the word for ‘the’) in these examples has a feminine and a masculine form. We are fortunate then that the English gender generally speaks for itself and we have few alternative forms. Many former distinctions have become blurred in modern times, even politically incorrect, so that we seldom refer to an actress or an authoress as opposed to actor or author. In some respects this is a pity as a ‘unisex’ term provides less information. A 1.6 Activities: number and gender These exercises are particularly useful for young children and ESL students and provide useful spelling practice, too. 1. Students make two columns, headed Singular and Plural, in their grammar exercise books. Dictate words which the students write in the appropriate column. They then add the counterpart of each word in the other column. Useful words for this exercise include those that sound like plurals such as: nouns loops, men, maze, jacket, tax, hose, coach, children, mouse, fleas, doses 2. The same activity can be used to practise gender, adding a third column for ‘Neuter’ and a fourth for ‘Either’ (masculine or feminine), for example: Masculine Feminine Neuter Either king queen throne monarch Others may include tyrant, master, leader, princess, ancestor, mech anic, pilot, uncle, blessing, conductor. Some words have a technical definition of neuter but carry a gender by custom, for example: a ship is often referred to as ‘she’. These provide an interesting subject for discussion. 3. Exercises 1 and 2 can be done orally. 4. Students are given sentences in the singular which they then trans late into plural. Reminder: It should still make sense! a. The old woman (women) carried her (their) bag (bags) across the street (streets). b. A mouse (mice) ate a hole (holes) in my (our) Dad’s sock (socks). c. I (we) still have a bit (bits) of glass in my (our) foot (feet). d. His (their) brother (brothers) is (are) painting the roof (roofs) of my (our) house (houses). e. A fly (flies) fell in her (their) glass (glasses) of juice. 5. Students are given sentences in the plural which they then translate into singular. a. The ladies (lady) still have (has) our (my) buckets (bucket) weeks (a week) after the fires (fire). b. John’s friends (friend) are (is) going to school on their (his/her) horses (horse). c. Naughty children (a naughty child) pushed them (he/she/it) into the puddles (puddle). d. Our (my) sisters (sister) bought ice-creams (an ice-cream) with their (her) pocket money. 33 A 34 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Case Case is a term which classifies all nouns and pronouns according to the function that each one has in a given sentence. As this classification is relevant only for discussing such functions in advanced language study and for the study of foreign languages, case will be discussed at a later stage (see page 150). C Checklist: nouns Can the student now: • define the term noun in clear and simple words • give an explanation of each category of nouns so far studied • give examples of each type of noun • state one way by which you can recognise a noun • differentiate confidently between the categories • correctly select nouns from a list of words or a passage and name the kind • state things that can be said about a noun and give appropriate examples Pronouns 2 So we don’t repeat ourselves! Definition: The word ‘pronoun’ comes from the Latin pronomen meaning ‘for a noun’. As the word implies, pronouns are the words that we use in place of nouns. It will become clear later when we discuss the difference between possessive and demonstrative pronouns and possessive and demonstrative adjectives (see pages 38, 53), why this definition is so important. We use pronouns to make clear whom or what we are talking about, while avoiding confusing or clumsy repetition. It is wise to teach just personal pronouns initially and bring in the other kinds later. Recognition is important while fuller explanation and exercises can follow later (see pages 139–42). Before learning about pronouns, students should: • understand the term noun • recognise both common and proper nouns Personal pronouns Share this story with your students. This (true) story could sound something like the following. ‘Marjorie lost her false teeth. The dog had found Marjorie’s false teeth and buried Marjorie’s false teeth. Marjorie could not find Marjorie’s false teeth anywhere, but Marjorie dug up Marjorie’s false teeth two years later, while Marjorie was digging in the garden.’ 35 36 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE With the use of pronouns this would read much more smoothly, in spite of the repetition of the pronouns. Although equally impor tant to the sense, they are less prominent. ‘Marjorie lost her false teeth. The dog had found them and buried them. Marjorie could not find them anywhere, but she dug them up two years later, while she was digging in the garden.’ Without the words ‘I’ and ‘you’ (personal pronouns) we could become very confused. Instead of: I saw her give you the letter for me. We would have to say something like this: John saw Maureen give Michael the letter for John. [John, referring to himself!] And: I hurt myself. Would become: John hurt John. [himself or another person called John?] It becomes altogether very confusing! Most languages have pronouns, though in some languages the pronoun is incorporated in the verb. Pronouns change in form according to the work that they do in the sentence. For example they have number: Singular – I went to town with him. Plural – We went to town with them. Tables can be very useful, both now and for later reference, so we suggest that students begin by entering a table of personal pro nouns in their grammar exercise books. pronouns Personal pronouns Singular Plural 1st person I we you you he/she/it they (the person/s speaking) 2nd person (the person/s spoken to) 3rd person (the person/s or things being spoken about) And when the action is done to the person, for example: Singular Plural me us you you he/she/it them The falling brick hit me. a. Following a preposition: These will be explained in the section on prepositions and the section on object (see pages 71, 98). The brick fell on me. b. A preposition that is understood, i.e. not mentioned. It gave (to) me concussion. 37 38 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE The following words are common pronouns for one person or thing: I you he she it me her him And for more than one person or thing: we you they us them Demonstrative pronouns As the name suggests, demonstrative pronouns demonstrate or point out ‘which one’ of a number. There are just four obvious ones: Singular Plural (here) this these (there) that those Remember, as the pronoun takes the place of a noun, the noun is not mentioned. A pronoun – This is scrumptious. Not a pronoun – This éclair is scrumptious. In the second sentence this is an adjective qualifying (telling more about) the noun ‘éclair’. (See adjectives on page 53.) Note: the words one and such can also be used as pronouns taking the place of nouns. For example: One can search for gemstones. Such is life. I found one. He told me such. pronouns 2.1 Activities: pronouns 1. Students rewrite sentences replacing the nouns with suitable pronouns. 2. Students in pairs attempt to have a conversation without using any pronouns. Suggest subjects, such as: a. What you did yesterday … b. A teacher reprimanding a student for a bad piece of work … 3. Students are given cloze sentences with a choice of pronouns for filling the gaps. a. Who drove the car? David drove . . . . . . . . . . (them, it, his, we) b. Who gave Lucy the chewing gum? . . . . . . . . . . did. (him, those, he, this) c. We saw . . . . . . . . . . at the show. (I, they, him, us) d. David bought . . . . . . . . . . ice-creams. (he, they, us, this) e. Jenny was at the show. Did . . . . . . . . . . see . . . . . . . . . . (them, her, we, you) 4. Students make example sentences using pronouns correctly, orally, on the board or in their grammar exercise books. 39 A 40 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 5. Choose pronouns to fill in the blanks. a. Michael gave . . . . . . . . . . some of . . . . . . . . . . b. . . . . . . . . . . really enjoyed . . . . . . . . . . c. . . . . . . . . . . were ripe and juicy. d. So . . . . . . . . . . gave . . . . . . . . . . to Bella. e. . . . . . . . . . . enjoyed it too. f. . . . . . . . . . . said . . . . . . . . . . was the best . . . . . . . . . . had ever had. g. Shall . . . . . . . . . . go and get more of . . . . . . . . . .? h. Yes . . . . . . . . . . is a good idea. i. Let . . . . . . . . . . go now. j. . . . . . . . . . . can take this basket to carry . . . . . . . . . . 6. Students draw a flowchart for pronouns showing personal pronouns and demonstrative pronouns. Further categories can be added as they are learnt. PRONOUNS Personal we C Demonstrative this Checklist: pronouns Students should now be able to: • give the meaning of the word ‘pronoun’ • define the word pronoun – what is a pronoun? (with emphasis on the point that a pronoun takes the place of a noun, so the noun is not mentioned) • explain why we have pronouns in our language • pick out or mark the nouns in a given passage • replace nouns with pronouns in a given passage Verbs 3 We can’t do without them! Definition: The word ‘verb’ comes from the Latin verbum meaning ‘word’. Verbs are doing, being or having words. Before learning about verbs, students should: • understand the term ‘noun’ • recognise common and proper nouns • understand the term ‘pronoun’ • recognise most personal pronouns • be able to explain their purpose It is a good idea to teach verbs next, as a noun or pronoun together with a verb, can form a complete sentence. This proves most satisfactory for the student. Care should be taken by the teacher to proceed to each new section or concept only when the previous one has been fully grasped. The order of the segments has been chosen carefully to provide a sound structure of understanding. For example, the section on finite and non-finite verbs comes naturally at the end of the first section. However, teachers may judge the timing of teaching this, depending on students’ level of understanding. It should not be left too long. A simple way of expressing it would be that a verb must have a doer (i.e. a subject) for it to make sense. Finite and non-finite verbs A verb needs a noun (or a pronoun) in front of it for it to make sense. 41 42 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE For example: John waves. The load slipped. Verbs are of two kinds, non-finite or finite. Non-finite means not complete. Non-finite verbs are not complete, because they do not have a subject, that is, the person or thing that does the action, or that the sentence is about. For more about the subject see page 92. Non-finite verbs also do not show a sense of time, i.e. tense. Finite verbs have both a subject and a tense. For example: I hope (present) John hoped (past) The most common and recognisable form of non-finite verb is the to-infinitive. For example: to drink, to be, to laugh … A 3.1 Activities: finite and non-finite verbs The recognition of action is one of the first verbal concepts that young children grasp, so we have them thinking about things that they do, such as breathe, eat, clap, play. 1. Students act the verbs. This can be done in teams with each person calling out a verb for their counterpart in the other team to act. The latter then calls out their verb for the next in the first team, until all have had a turn. 2. Provide on paper a list of nouns plus a separate list of verbs in random order, which students match. This, too, can be done orally or in writing. The lists could be written side by side and students draw lines matching the nouns to suitable verbs, for example: verbs birds pedal trees hoot radios neigh lions sing dolphins blare water roar cyclists erupt volcanoes grow owls flows 3. Students are provided with a list of nouns with which to compose sentences by adding an appropriate verb to each. This also could be done in reverse, for example: Noun Verb (students add) a. the boy joked b. snow fell c. my uncle laughed d. our cat scratched e. the hose broke f. a ghost appeared g. the wind howled h. my friend fell sick i. the ship sailed j. the horses galloped 4. Students use the present tense to indicate a habitual action, for example: Uncle John snores. April brings showers. a. Dad f. jet planes b. my brother g. eagles c. old cars h. ducks d. tramps i. geese e. dictators j. soldiers 43 A 44 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 5. Students add nouns to the following verbs that will indicate habit or custom, for example: Lions – Lions roar. a. . . . . . . . . . . beat drums b. . . . . . . . . . . sing c. . . . . . . . . . . leave trails d. . . . . . . . . . . guard the building e. . . . . . . . . . . make speeches f. . . . . . . . . . . irons shirts g. . . . . . . . . . . paint pictures h. . . . . . . . . . . take money i. . . . . . . . . . . rattles Tense Definition: The word ‘tense’ is from Latin tempus meaning time. Before learning about tense, students should be able to: • recognise nouns • recognise pronouns and understand their purpose • know the meaning of the word verb • recognise verbs and name verbs Tense is indicated whenever we use a finite verb. A useful way to explain tense to students is by standing facing the students and making symbolic gestures. As the direction of reading in English is from left to right, we use a corresponding sequence. To the students’ left we indicate something occurring in the past. Directly in front indicates something occurring now, in the present, and to the right something which is to happen in the future. Past Present Future I laughed I laugh I shall (or will) laugh verbs 3.2 Activities: tense 1. Students draw the tense chart in their grammar exercise books. Provide more verbs for which students enter the correct forms on their chart, for example: wreck, chip, say, hurry It will help the students if they think in terms of the verb having a subject, for example: Past Present Future (word) sag (subject) the bed sagged sags will sag (word) write (subject) they wrote writes will write Remember that many of these activities can be done orally, but students should do some examples in their grammar exercise books. 2. Students are given a list of subjects to which they add their own choice of verb, for example: the old car the gate my friend thunder the cow a bull the milk cart lightning the monster slime Students may want to add more to their sentence. Simple and continuous verbs These indicate whether the action of the verb is completed or still going on. A simple verb is one in which the action is complete within the respective tense. For example: I cooked, I cook, I shall cook 45 A 46 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Compare this with the continuous form in which the action of the verb is still going on. Thus: I was cooking, I am cooking, I shall be cooking The ‘ing’ ending conveys continuity, but the sense is not complete without the addition of a ‘helper’ or auxiliary verb (see pages 49–52). A 3.3 Activities: simple and continuous verbs 1. Provide a scenario, such as: ‘My brother is looking for a job …’ Each student in turn takes the part of the brother. The others ask him what he can do. He acts out one thing that he can do for the others to guess, for example: a. Load a truck b. Fill ice-cream cones 2. Students change tenses by filling in the spaces: Past Present Future a. I shivered I.......... I.......... b. . . . . . . . . . . Jack leaves .......... c. . . . . . . . . . . .......... will break d. I did not .......... .......... e. . . . . . . . . . . .......... who will work? 3. Students now fill in the tense tables. A sample table of tenses Singular Past Present Future 1st person I gave I give I shall/will give 2nd person You gave You give You will give 3rd person He/she gave He/she gives He/she will give verbs Plural 1st person We gave We give We shall/will give 2nd person You gave You give You will give 3rd person They gave They give They will give a. Students complete the table with the verb ‘to sing’. Singular Past Present 1st person Future I shall 2nd person 3rd person He Plural 1st person 2nd person You 3rd person A sample table of tenses for an irregular verb Singular Past Present Future 1st person I was I am I shall/will be 2nd person You were You are You will be 3rd person He/she was He/she is He/she will be 1st person We were We are We shall/will be 2nd person You were You are You will be 3rd person They were They are They will be Plural 47 A 48 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE b. Students complete the table with the verb ‘to go’. Singular Past Present Future 1st person 2nd person 3rd person He Plural 1st person We shall 2nd person 3rd person They A sample table of continuous tenses using the present participle Singular Past Present Future 1st person I was speaking I am speaking I shall/will be speaking 2nd person We were speaking You are speaking You will be speaking 3rd person He/she/it was speaking He/she/it is speaking He/she/it will be speaking 1st person We were speaking We are speaking We shall/will be speaking 2nd person You were speaking You are speaking You will be speaking 3rd person They were speaking They are speaking They will be speaking Plural verbs c. Students complete the table with the verb ‘to achieve’. Singular Past 1st person I was 2nd person Present Future You are 3rd person Plural 1st person 2nd person 3rd person They will be Auxiliary (helper) verbs Definition: The word ‘auxiliary’ is formed from the Latin auxilium meaning ‘help’, and in grammar it refers to certain verbs that are used to form tenses. The main ‘helpers’ are taken from forms of the verbs ‘to be’ and ‘to have’. Most native English speakers have little difficulty with using these forms according to the language that they hear round about them. They do need explanation, however, and ESL students will need more practice. Singular Plural I am We are You are You are He is They are 49 A 50 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE We need to remember that these forms can be made more tricky to recognise by the contractions which are common in everyday speech, but not always fully understood. (See contractions on page 80.) For example: I’ll do it – meaning I shall do it. He won’t do it – meaning he will not do it. Similarly, we need to explain that the auxiliary verb can be separated from the main verb. For example: We are definitely going – are going is the verb. Also, when we ask a question we turn the verb around and place the pronoun in between. For example: Statement: He was telling that funny joke. Question: Was he telling that funny joke? Other auxiliary verbs indicate uncertainty and help take on the role of the subjunctive (see page 146). These need just to be recognised as verb parts at the earlier stage and will be recognised through practice. They are can, could, has, have, may, might, shall, should, will, would and must. For example: You must wipe your shoes when you come in. Rover would not swallow his pill. A 3.4 Activities: auxiliaries 1. Students take turns to act or mime an activity. The others guess what they are doing. They give their guesses in the continuous tense, for example: verbs The student acts/mimes drying dishes. The others raise their hands for one to answer. He/she is drying dishes. 2. Students are provided with pictures showing various people doing things, such as working inside a shop, in the market place, in the park etc. and they say in turn what each is doing, using the continuous tense. This activity can also be done in writing and is very useful for ESL students of any age. 3. Students pick out/mark verbs in a given passage, or in sentences. They must include the auxiliary parts of the verbs. I would like to have a party for my birthday but Dad has arranged a meeting on that day and my brother will be at soccer practice. I could perhaps make it next week, but that is too soon and I would have no time to send the invitations. I must decide quickly so I can start planning. I do hope you can come. 4. Students are provided with a list of verbs in simple tense and they add the corresponding continuous tense. Again this can be done orally, on the board or in writing, for example: hop, hopping If done as a writing exercise, check the spellings, particularly the doubling of consonants after the short vowel. a. stay b. grip c. enjoy d. enter e. forgive f. wait g. behead h. die 51 A 52 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE i. agree j. measure 5. Students now fill in the charts on pages 47–49. Other verbs can be substituted for those given in the previous exercise, especially prac tising any that give trouble, either with spelling or tense form. C Checklist: verbs Students should now be able to: • define the term verb clearly and accurately • explain the term tense and classify past, present and future • give the past, present and future form of a common noun • explain the terms finite and infinite/non-finite with examples • supply a subject for a given verb form • correctly select a verb in a given sentence, recognising a verb in two parts, i.e. he will laugh • give examples of the present tense used to indicate habitual action • complete a tense table using a common verb • explain the difference between a simple and continuous tense • change a verb from simple to continuous tense and vice versa • correctly name the tense of given verbs Adjectives 4 Colour your world! Definition: The word ‘adjective’ is from Latin ad jacere meaning ‘throw to’ or ‘add’. In the grammatical sense, this means to add the characteristics of something, i.e. to qualify it. Before studying adjectives, students should: • know the definition of a noun • recognise nouns, both common and proper • be able to give examples of nouns Adjectives tell us more about nouns. For example: a red rose a distinguished scholar Remember: this, that, these and those, which are pronouns stand ing on their own, are adjectives if the noun is specified. We call these possessive adjectives. For example: This is tasty. [pronoun] But – This cake is tasty. [adjective] Explained clearly, this is a lesson in logic. The terms ‘limit’ and ‘modify’ are sometimes used with adjec tives, but these are also applied to adverbs, and it is helpful for the student to use different terms, to better distinguish one from another. For young children, the word ‘describe’ for adjectives is preferable as they will be familiar with the word and readily understand its meaning and application. 53 54 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Ezra Pound preferred poetry without adjectives. He states: ‘The true poet is easily distinguished from the false when he trusts himself to the simplest expression and writes without adjectives.’ And Mark Twain wrote: ‘As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.’ On the other hand, Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through the Looking Glass, proclaims that: ‘You can do anything with adjec tives.’ But the best advice comes from William Safire: ‘Adjective salad is delicious, with each element contributing its individual and unique flavour; but a puree of adjective soup tastes yecchy.’ Well-chosen adjectives are succinct and titillate the imagination, while a surfeit must inevitably diminish. Words, such as ‘nice’ change in meaning over time and many words such as ‘terrible’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘fabulous’ have lost their preciseness, such that it is difficult to find sufficiently expressive replacements. It behoves all teachers and tutors to encourage students in the rigorous exercise of accuracy and the development of an extensive vocabulary to draw from. Young children need a free hand to practise and experiment with all the words at their disposal. The middle years will be especially important for training them in selectivity and adapting language to the purpose of the writing. Adjectives provide excel lent opportunities for discussion. Crystal, David & Crystal, Hilary 2000, Words on words: Quotations about language and languages, Penguin Books, Middlesex, UK. ibid. A 4.1 Activities: adjectives 1. The outdoor activities suggested for nouns can now be done for practising adjectives, with the students adding qualifiers to the nouns they cite, for example: A broken fence A new concrete tank adjecti ves 2. Students can be provided with interesting puzzle exercises: a. a list of interesting nouns and a list of colourful adjectives that can be matched, for example: Nouns: toad, shoes, journey, truck, bride, worm, doughnut, tooth, uncle, track Adjectives: grumpy, broken-down, dusty, tasty, loose, pretty, incredible, wriggly, slimy, worn-out b. a list of interesting nouns for students to qualify with suitable adjectives of their choice 3. Each student writes a noun on a piece of paper. The papers are then passed in the same direction to the adjacent student. Students each add an adjective to the noun they have received. 4. Students mark or list adjectives from a selected passage of prose or poetry. 5. Provide sentences or a short passage without adjectives. Students make it descriptive by adding appropriate adjectives of their own choice. 6. Students are provided with pairs of initial letters with which they make adjective–noun combinations, for example: f . . . . . p . . . . . – fat pig, fenced paddock Extra points could be allocated for inventiveness, suitability and correct spelling. a. l . . . . . t . . . . . b. y . . . . . f . . . . . c. s . . . . . b . . . . . d. g . . . . . p . . . . . e. w . . . . . d . . . . . f. a . . . . . l . . . . . g. l . . . . . w . . . . . h. w . . . . . h . . . . . i. f . . . . . m . . . . . j. d . . . . . a . . . . . 55 A 56 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Adjectives formed from nouns and verbs Adjectives can be formed from nouns to express the quality of the noun. For example: point [noun], pointed [adjective] hope [noun], hopeful [adjective] Adjectives can also be formed from verbs. For example: to run [verb], running [adjective] to believe [verb], believable [adjective] Older students can be given exercises in forming one part of speech from another. Words that can be used as several parts of speech We are reminded that words take their part of speech from the function they have in the sentence. For example, the word bank can be: a noun: I went to the bank. a verb: He will bank the money he earned. an adjective: These are foreign bank notes. A 4.2 Activities: adjectives and nouns 1. Students can be given a variety of words to use in sentences in different ways, as above. They mark the part of speech of each one, for example: mail, dust, wash, bath, motor, bore, saw, glue, post, side, water, pump, pipe, dress adjecti ves 2. Students find their own words that can function as several parts of speech, such as water, whip, string. This is a really useful exercise for reinforcing understanding of the functions of words. 3. Form adjectives from nouns, for example: noise [noun], noisy [adjective] Students may need a dictionary. a. wood b. child c. hope d. picture e. beauty f. disaster g. fame h. memory i. dive j. crime 4. Form adjectives from verbs, for example: run [verb], runny [adjective] Some of these are also past participles which will be taught in a later section. a. copy b. rot c. wear d. drive e. speak f. dread g. sweep h. dictate i. write j. grieve 57 A 58 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Adjectives of degree and comparison These are alternative terms applied to the act of comparing the extent or amount of the quality expressed by the adjective. We show this comparison by adding endings (suffixes) to the adjectives. If two things are compared (comparative form), we use the suffix er. For example: Dad’s voice is louder than Mum’s. Your baby is heavier than mine. Note how the y of heavy has been changed to i with the addition of an ending. If more than two things are compared (superlative form), est is the correct ending. For example: Colin’s voice is loudest of all. My BMX is the fastest on the track. Some adjectives would become very clumsy with the endings added, so we have the alternative of preceding the adjective with more or most. This usually applies to longer words such as ‘sensible’ or ‘beautiful’. Sometimes it is just a matter of ease on the ear. For example: Comfortable: This chair is comfortable; that chair is more comfortable but Grandad’s chair is most comfortable. Some of the words that we find hard to categorise are, on further examination, clearly adjectives, as they tell more about nouns. Students do need to realise this so that they can fit them into the scheme of things. They should be explained, although the terms need not be memorised at this stage. Note: For correct use of few and less see pages 129, 193. adjecti ves 59 Colin’s voice is the loudest of all. 4.3 Activities: degree and comparison 1. Students should write the chart of comparisons in their grammar exercise books and add more words of their choice. 2. Students can practise comparative and superlative forms orally. Suggest a word for which students add the comparative and super lative forms. They can put them into sentences. 3. A large chart may be made by the students to hang on the wall. If the chart is laminated, students can add new words using whiteboard pens. 4. Students select words from boxes to match with suitable nouns (see following page). swift scary winding gifted glamorous gripping rickety cunning rusty brave A 60 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Answers are written to increase vocabulary and spelling ability. a. . . . . . . . . . . path b. . . . . . . . . . . footbridge c. . . . . . . . . . . soldier d. . . . . . . . . . . arrow e. . . . . . . . . . . tank f. . . . . . . . . . . monster g. . . . . . . . . . . model h. . . . . . . . . . . fox i. . . . . . . . . . . tale j. . . . . . . . . . . artist 5. Students find more meaningful words than ‘nice’ or ‘good’ for the following. a. . . . . . . . . . . party b. . . . . . . . . . . boy c. . . . . . . . . . . person d. . . . . . . . . . . race e. . . . . . . . . . . house f. . . . . . . . . . . pear g. . . . . . . . . . . dog h. . . . . . . . . . . tune i. . . . . . . . . . . garden They then find an adjective for each of these which means the opposite (i.e. not good). 6. Students complete an adjectives flowchart. adjectives Descriptive new Comparative newer Proper Ford (car) Superlative newest Demonstrative that (car) Possessive my (car) adjecti ves Checklist: adjectives The student should now be able to: • give the meaning of the word adjective • define the word adjective – what is an adjective? • give examples of adjectives • qualify given nouns with appropriate adjectives • pick out adjectives from written material • apply adjectives to nouns to make a sentence more meaningful • explain the function of adjectives 61 C 5 Adverbs The way it’s done! Definition: Remembering that the word ‘verb’ is derived from Latin verbum meaning ‘word’ we see that adverb must mean some thing added to a word. Before learning about adverbs, students should: • understand the term ‘verb’ • be able to describe the function of a verb – What is a verb? • be able to form simple sentences using a noun or pronoun together with a verb An adverb is a word that adds meaning to any other word, except a noun or pronoun (that being the job of an adjective). Adverbs are best understood as being of two kinds, those that add to the meaning of a verb and those that add to the meaning of other parts of speech and other adverbs. The English language includes an immense range of adverbs, and while flowery writing can result from an over-lavish use of either adjectives and adverbs, they do enable us to be wonderfully imaginative and subtly descriptive. Henry James remarked in one of his letters, ‘I’m glad you like adverbs – I adore them; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.’ Adverbs are best taught first, as their function is readily under stood by young children. In order to establish a clear distinction between the functions of adverbs and adjectives it is preferable to use a term other than ‘qualify’ for adverbs. The term ‘limit’ Crystal, David & Crystal, Hilary 2000, Words on words: Quotations about language and languages, Penguin Books, Middlesex, UK. 62 adverbs can confuse young students by implying diminished meaning, although that, of course, it does in fact do. For instance, if you attribute one quality to a verb such as ‘He ran quickly’, you have denied it an opposing or conflicting quality – he did not run slowly. However, to avoid any confusion for learners we have chosen the term ‘modify’ for the function of adverbs. While acknowledging that students may come up against kinds of adverbs not mentioned here, the following are those commonly used and easy to comprehend. Adverbs add meaning in a number of different ways. Adverbs of time (‘when’ adverbs) These adverbs tell us when the action of the verb does or does not occur. For example: tomorrow, never The show is on tomorrow. I have never been to the show. Adverbs of place (‘where’ adverbs) These tell us where the action of the verb does or does not happen. For example: here, somewhere It isn’t here. It must be somewhere! Adverbs of manner (‘how’ adverbs) These tell us the way in which the action of the verb does or does not happen. For example: well, rudely You speak well. That boy spoke rudely. 63 64 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE Interrogative adverbs (‘question’ adverbs) These adverbs are the question words that apply to the verb in a sentence. For example: how, why, where How did he escape? Why did you leave the gate open? Where can he be? Comparative adverbs (‘comparing’ adverbs) Adverbs of comparison follow a similar pattern to comparative adjectives while maintaining their function of modifying words. For example: fast, faster [comparing two], fastest [comparing more than two] The cake disappeared fast. Your buns went faster. But the pizza went fastest! In the case of longer adverbs we use more and most – again to avoid clumsiness. What a colourful tie. This one’s more colourful. But that one is most colourful. Irregular adverbs of comparison These irregular forms cause difficulty for some students who use them wrongly and use an adjective instead (He did it good – or performed real bad). It is a good idea to teach these and establish them in the minds of students early. Use a display, which can be made by the students themselves. adverbs Adverbs Comparative Superlative well better best badly worse worst much more most little less least 65 As some of these words can also be adjectives, you may remind students to think about their function in a sentence. For example: This is the worst firewood we have had. [adjective qualifying the noun ‘firewood’] It burns worst in wet weather. [adverb modifying the verb ‘burns’] For adverbs modifying other parts of speech, see page 130. 5.1 Activities: kinds of adverbs 1. Some favourite activities involve acting. Suggest an action, such as lifting a heavy weight or chopping down a tree. Then name an adverb of manner. The students do the action in the manner given. 2. ‘In the manner of the word’ is another favourite. One student decides on an act they will perform, such as frying an egg, flying an aeroplane, or being a police-officer recording details at the scene of a crime. (Speaking is permitted for this game.) The other students in turn name an adjective of manner such as ‘happily’. The first student performs their act in the manner of that word. The others try to guess what the student is doing. It is difficult to forget what adverbs are after performing some of these activities. A 66 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 3. Students have a list of verbs to which they add (or match) suitable adverbs, for example: dance (beautifully, clumsily) eat (greedily, daintily) get married (tomorrow, here) Encourage students to be adventurous in their choice. a. singing f. swallow b. swim g. laughed c. cook h. shouted d. read i. will go e. drove j. fell sick My sister dances beautifully. 4. Students are provided with a short passage to which they add appropriate adverbs. Passages can be chosen at the students’ level, for example young students might have a selection from Thomas the Tank Engine or Harry Potter while older ones might have theirs from Raiders of the Lost Ark or Wuthering Heights. adverbs 5. Students are given a chart, or better still they draw one in their grammar exercise books. Sentences, each containing an adverb, are written down the left-hand side. Three columns to the right are 67 A headed Time, Place and Manner. Students mark the adverb in each sentence, then enter it into the correct column, for example: Time He looked everywhere for you. Place Manner everywhere I stupidly rang the wrong number. stupidly 6. Students are given several adverbs to use in their own sentences, for example: always, where, softly 7. Students draw their own chart for adverbs and fill in their own examples. ADVERBS Time now Manner bravely Interrogative why Place here Checklist: adverbs Students should now be able to: • give an accurate definition of the term ‘adverb’ • select adverbs from a given list of words or a passage • state the category of each adverb given • give examples of each category of adverb • supply comparative forms of a regular adverb • make a chart of comparison for the common irregular adverbs given • add suitable adverbs to given verbs • explain clearly the difference between an adjective and an adverb C 6 Articles Any old one? Definition: The word ‘article’ comes from the Latin articulus meaning ‘a little joint’, or a bit joined on. Articles are sometimes referred to as determinants. In English we have only three articles, a, an, the – so they should really present no problem and for most, even very young children, they come naturally in speech. But even native English speakers sometimes confuse them when reading. This is partly as a result of ‘whole word’ reading practices and lack of correction, by which students acquire habits of inaccuracy and guessing. It is also due to the fact that words such as ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ have no substance; they do not have a concrete meaning and therefore make no appeal to the senses. I call them ‘nothing words’ as they present no image to the imagination. But they are important and they do have a function. A good way to illustrate the meaning of ‘nothing words’ is by gesture. For example: Say to the students: ‘Look at the clock’. Point at the clock as you say it, to show that you are speaking of a specific clock. Then ask: ‘Can anyone lend me a pencil?’ and as you say it throw both arms out, palms upwards in an enquir ing gesture, indicating that any pen will do; you do not have a specific one in mind. 68 articles The indefinite article This refers to the words ‘a’, or ‘an’ when followed by a word begin ning with a vowel such as apple: an apple, an orchestra. It is called indefinite as it refers to any one of the thing, not a particular one. The definite article This one, on the other hand, refers to a specific thing and therefore indicates a more accurate reference. For example: Don’t forget to ask the driver to tell you when you should get off the bus. A… The… 69 70 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 6.1 Activities: articles 1. Students in turn practise making sentences and gesturing for the articles as described above. 2. Read a passage – or students read – aloud and make the appropriate gesture for each article as it is read. 3. Students read aloud and a mark is noted for each misread ‘nothing word’ – the lowest score is the best result. 4. Students draw their own cartoon illustrating the two gestures. C Checklist: articles Students should now be able to: • explain and demonstrate the difference in use between a/an and the • correctly use and write a or an before a given noun Prepositions 7 What’s the position? Definition: The word ‘preposition’ is from the Latin word praepositio meaning ‘placed before’ or ‘in front of’. Just as the word denotes, a preposition normally precedes a noun or pronoun. It shows a relationship to something, mainly according to place (on the table) or time (at 2.00 pm) and less obviously to a notion, i.e. something abstract (beyond belief). Prepositions, by virtue of coming before a noun or pronoun are said to ‘take an object’. (Compare with direct objects on page 97.) Note that these same prepositions often appear in verb com binations such as ‘wash up’, ‘have to’. In these examples the combination of verb and preposition presents a new and specific notion – everyone knows that by adding the word ‘up’ to ‘wash’ we have the particular meaning of washing dishes. Therefore it is commonsense to deal with the whole as one verb. In another form, words that look like prepositions and come after the verb are modifying the meaning of the verb, as in ‘look around’, ‘stand up’. These are adverbs and are easy to recognise as they do not ‘take an object’ – i.e. there is no noun or pronoun following. For prepositions taking objects see page 98. on the box preposition object 71 72 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE It would not normally be appropriate to make this distinction with young children. It will arise naturally as they mature in understanding. So we deal first with prepositions indicating place – which do have an object – as these are the easiest to comprehend and may be illustrated through simple activities, followed by prepositions indicating time, for example: by Monday. A 7.1 Activities: prepositions 1. Suggest students pick up an object such as a rubber or pencil. Ask them to place it on something (the desk or a book). Then under it, beside it and so on. Write the words on the board as you do this. 2. This activity can be done in the play area. Call out prepositions and have the students take up appropriate positions to illustrate them. 3. Draw two boxes on the board. Students are asked to imagine a ball being thrown at them, on them, between them etc. They suggest any others they can think of. Students then draw the boxes in their own books. As they write each preposition down the side or below, they can draw each in an appropriate position on the diagram. 4. Students are each supplied with a picture from which they make observations using prepositions. They write these in their grammar exercise books, for example: A lady standing at the door. A black cat on the sofa. C Checklist: prepositions Students should now be able to: • define the term ‘preposition’ • recognise a preposition taking on the function of an adverb Conjunctions 8 Come and join us! Definition: This word is from the Latin con meaning ‘together’ and jungere meaning ‘to join’. A conjunction joins two or more parts of speech of a similar kind or two or more parts of a sentence. Coordinating conjunctions Coordinating conjunctions such as and, but and or are used to join two or more different things. For example: Bread and butter, tea or coffee. I went to the bowling alley but (and) my brother stayed at home. Subordinating conjunctions As the name suggests these join a subordinate clause to a main or principal clause, so they should be taught in more detail later, along with the section on clauses (see page 167). However, it is wise for students to be able to classify them at this stage. Students can recognise them as joining two parts of a sentence. For example: Tom had stomach ache, because he ate too many plums. Although he felt sick, he still played soccer. 73 74 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE 8.1 Activities: conjunctions For coordinating conjunctions little practice is needed, but students do need examples for reinforcing the functions and for reference. 1. Suggest a sentence that could end with a phrase such as those suggested above, and students add a given number of parts, for example: a. Which do you prefer? (tea or coffee; jam or marmalade.) b. What did you have for tea? (bread and jam; jelly and ice-cream.) c. What happened? (Tom went, but I stayed at home.) 2. Remind students of the function of subordinating conjunctions which link a subordinate adverbial clause to a principal clause. Suggest a principal clause to which students can add subordinating adverbial clauses of different kinds, for example: Marion did not arrive – because she missed the bus. until half way through the show. so Steve went on his own. C Checklist: conjunctions Beginner level students should now be able to: • name the three common coordinating conjunctions (and, or and but) Advanced level students should now be able to: • explain the use of subordinating conjunctions and give examples • replace the word ‘and’ in sentences that would be better expressed with the use of a subordinating conjunction linking adverbial clauses (see page 167) Interjections 9 Wow! Definition: This is another word from the Latin, inter, meaning ‘between’ or ‘among’ and jacere –‘to throw’. In other words, an interjection is something ‘thrown’ in. An interjection is an exclamation of one or two words that stands alone and is usually a response to surprise, shock or disgust, such as ‘Goodness!’ or ‘Yuk!’ Oh! No! Yuk! 9.1 Activity: interjections Students need no activity to practise interjections, but they will enjoy suggesting some. (You may need some ground rules for these!) One could ask them for suggestions of what they would say given certain situations, for example: a. they dropped their ice-cream in the gutter … b. they saw a ghost … c. they tripped over a thong … d. they bumped into a friend they have not seen for years … e. they heard their favourite show is cancelled … 75 A 10 Sentence forms Before students begin this section they should be able to read and write simple sentences and take dictated ones with a high level of accuracy. In this section students are introduced to sentence construction. Firstly, they learn to recognise and correctly use the four basic kinds of sentences together with the appropriate punctuation. Students are reminded that all sentences start with a capital letter. Statements These are sentences in which something is stated or told. Speech and writing consists mainly of statements. They end with a full stop. For example: Roger fell into the river. Questions These are the second most common form of sentence. They ask something – which they expect to be answered – and they end with a question mark. For example: Who pulled him out? 76 sentence for ms 77 Commands These are orders given to other people or to animals – parents and teachers often give them – and they end with a full stop. For example: Don’t play by the river. Exclamations These are often not a complete sentence at all, but one or two words expressing shock or horror. They end with an exclamation mark. For example: A shark! Look out! Oh no! 10.1 Activities: sentence forms 1. What kinds of sentences are these? Students write them in their books, adding the correct punctuation. a. Look where you are going (command) b. What did you do that for (question) c. It can’t be true (statement) d. Never say die (command) e. What’s the time (question) f. How would I know (question) g. It’s bleeding (statement) h. I hope they win (statement) i. Help (exclamation) j. Tell me more (command) 2. Students change the wording of these sentences to make them questions, for example: You told a lie. – Did you tell a lie? A 78 A G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE a. Cliff went to hospital. b. I shall go to see him. c. Take him some magazines. d. He would like some Smarties. e. The doctor thinks he has a broken leg. 3. A useful resource that can be used again and again is a pack of cards, a little smaller than playing cards, each with the name of a part of speech written clearly on the face. All cards must be the same colour, but different colours can be used for the written parts of speech. The following proportions are suggested but may be adjusted to suit: Noun – 10 Adjective – 10 Pronoun – 6 Adverb – 8 Article – 6 Preposition – 8 Verb – Conjunction – Total – 10 4 62 cards Game 1 The cards are well shuffled and placed face down in the centre of the group. Each student in turn takes one card from the top and then gives an example word corresponding to the part of speech named on the card. In the case that there is more than one possibility, as in the word ‘book’, the student must qualify it. If correct, the student keeps the card, as with a trick, but if incorrect the card is placed back under the pile. Then when the cards have all been used, count the score. Game 2 Students have pencil and paper or exercise book beside them. Each in turn takes one card; then each in turn a second, then a third. sentence for ms 79 Using their three cards they make up and write a sentence which must contain all the parts of speech (in any order) that they hold in their hand, for example, for cards including the following: Adverb, A Noun, Preposition: Dad sings loudly in the shower noun adverb preposition The sentences can then be read out while the student displays the cards. Game 3 Sentence patterns can then be supplied from which students compose sentences, using them randomly or in the given order, for example: Noun …… Verb …… Adverb …… The bus is running late a. pronoun, conjunction, verb b. adjective, noun, conjunction c. pronoun, verb, noun, adjective d. noun, conjunction, noun, verb e. verb, preposition, adjective, noun Checklist: sentence forms Students should now be able to: • name the four kinds of sentences • give an example for each one • use the correct punctuation for each • name the kind of sentence from any one presented or picked randomly • be able to reword a sentence to change its kind C 11 The apostrophe Definition: The word ‘apostrophe’ is from a Greek word meaning ‘a turning away’. It refers to the omission of something, in this case one or more letters of a word, and it affects written language in several ways. Before learning about apostrophes, students should know: • the function of nouns and their various plural forms • the function of pronouns. The apostrophe gives rise to much confusion and error. But, as with so many particulars of grammar, the confusion is not caused by any real complexity but rather from a lack of understanding. Recently, a very good computer teacher told me that, as her students made so many errors in the use of the apostrophe, she had told them not to use them at all. Yet, if they are explained at the right time and in a simple way, apostrophes need offer no threat at all. Contractions This one causes the least difficulty and usually results in the formation of one word from two, involving the verb ‘to be’, auxiliary (helper) verbs and negatives. For example: 80 I’ll from I shall/will she’d from she would can’t from can not the apostrophe We learn these forms from their use in spoken English, but need also to be able to write them in full. Possession This use causes the greatest confusion, but the rules that apply are, in spite of popular belief, quite straightforward. Possession expresses the idea that something belongs to someone or some other thing, and omission represented by the apostrophe is actually the contraction of the word ‘has’. For example: John has money. becomes John’s money. and The dog has a dish. becomes The dog’s (a) dish … This is a very economical language device. If the noun is in the plural form, already ending in ‘s’, then the use of a second ‘s’ would be clumsy. So the apostrophe sits on its own and the second ‘s’ is simply omitted. For example: The dogs’ dishes … The boys’ careers … This awkwardness does not apply with plural forms that don’t end with ‘s’. For example: Children’s teeth … 81 82 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE In spoken language, to avoid ambiguity, we can fall back on the longer form. For example: ‘The horse’s trainer’ sounds the same as ‘the horses’ trainer’, so it is clearer to say ‘the trainer of the horses’ or similar. If a surname ends in ‘s’, as in Jones or Fields, the form ‘s pronounced es’ (or ‘is’) is often used in speech but in writing it is proper to use the apostrophe alone, as with plurals. For example: The Jones’ Mercedes Avoiding confusion The apostrophe is traditionally used for clarity in abbreviations and other forms. For example: The MSc’s were awarded next. There are two s’s in ‘grass’. A 11.1 Activities: apostrophes 1. a. Students are given contractions and they supply the full form, first orally, then in writing: he’ll, we’re, can’t, won’t, would’ve, didn’t, I’d, I’ll, they’d, don’t b. Students do the reverse giving the contracted form orally and in writing. 2. Students play an oral concentration game. The teacher gives a phrase and students raise both arms if the ending is ‘apostrophe s’, as in the girl’s mother, or one arm for an apostrophe only, as in Captain Sykes’ horse, or the boys’ desks. Students must listen carefully for the plurals. the apostrophe a. the headmaster’s office b. a bee’s sting c. two cars’ headlights 83 A d. the class’s results e. those dogs’ bones f. the science teacher’s study g. our museum’s corridors h. the king’s horses i. the horses’ harnesses j. my mother’s hat 3. Students write on the board, or in their books, abbreviations and other usages of the apostrophe. MBA’s, PhD’s, BBQ’s, do’s and don’t’s, dot your i’s (this would say ‘is’ without the apostrophe) Checklist: apostrophes Students should now be able to use the apostrophe for: • showing possession of something belonging to: − one person or thing, e.g. grandma’s glasses − more than one person or thing, e.g. the cars’ roofs (n.b. not ‘rooves’) − one or more person or thing that already ends in ‘s’, e.g. Mr Jones’ pen • indicating omission of a letter or letters in contractions, e.g. will’ve, haven’t, and describe clearly how to use the apostrophe in each of the instances so far learnt C 12 Commas Definition: The word ‘comma’ has come to us through Latin, from the Greek komma meaning ‘a piece cut out’, i.e. separated. In this case, the comma separates groups of words. Before learning about commas, students should: • know the form of simple sentences • know the correct punctuation for kinds of sentences • have the ability to use both of the above in writing There are several uses of the comma that students should now learn and practise. Also shown below are one or two that could be studied in more detail later. Knowing the functions of the comma is essential, not just for reading and writing well, but for accuracy and avoiding ambiguity. With the introduction of the holistic approach to writing, many educationists adopted the attitude that ‘such things as spelling and punctuation were of less importance than a total impression of its quality’. The results of this phase in educational history are now reflected in some of the poor standards and misleading written information that we see today. With sound early instruction, accurate and meaningful writing should result. The presence or absence of a comma can totally alter the meaning of a sentence, and a comma put in the wrong place can result in misunderstanding and embarrassment. Choose an appropriate time to point this out, using examples such as the following: The car rolled about 100 metres from the corner. or The car rolled, about 100 metres from the corner. 84 commas The activities at the end of this section not only provide practice in the uses of the comma, but also give opportunities to develop the imagination, expand vocabulary and read with expression. The comma separates It does this in several ways. Items in a list It marks off items in a list. There is usually no comma preceding the last item, as it is replaced by the word ‘and’. For example: I emptied my pocket and found a locker key, a 20-cent piece, a Mintie, a small screw and a piece of string. Sense groups It separates sense groups. This applies to phrases and clauses. At this stage students will probably not understand these terms, but they can be shown how the comma indicates where we should pause when reading aloud. We may raise our voice a little at the comma, to show that we have not yet reached the end of the sentence. We might use this pause to take a quick breath. For example: He slipped into the classroom, just before the bell. Or to mark off an extra piece of information: The driver, Mr Cramp, pulled back the gearstick. When writing, we need to imagine how we would like someone to read what we have written and use commas accordingly. Sometimes the positioning of commas is extremely important or our sentence could give quite the wrong meaning. 85 86 G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE For example: The man was found, shot dead, by his niece. [intended meaning] or The man was found, shot dead by his niece. [unintended] And without a comma at all, the sentence is ambiguous. For a humorous adventure into the world of poor punctuation, we recommend the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Direct speech The comma separates direct speech from the narrative (see also direct speech using inverted commas on page 89.) For example: