Teaching Writing

Contemplative pedagogy.

Tweet Several major universities and other centers are developing curricula which include contemplative and meditation practices. My own university, Montclair State University, is developing a center of its own, and I have been invited to be a Fellow in the group that will investigate including contemplative practices into our own courses.  I have written several […]

The language of guns

Tweet We should watch our gun language. The New York Times has an article today, “In Gun Debate, Even Language Is Loaded,” documenting the pervasive gun references in our language.  I speak six languages, and in thinking about each, I believe the article is correct — we have far more expressions, verbs, and nouns which […]

A teacher’s dilemma

Tweet A consistent mistake made by my students is using “everyday” instead of “every day.” “everyday” is an adjective, as in “That is an everyday concern of mine.” The other is a noun with a modifier, as in “Every day I brush my teeth.” While on an unrelated Internet quest (looking for the website which […]

What’s a Teacher to Do?

Tweet A common mistake made by my students is using “everyday” instead of “every day.” One (everyday) is an adjective, as in “That is an everyday concern of mine.”  The other is a noun modified by an adjective, as in “Every day I brush my teeth.” I thought my analysis was undeniably correct until I […]

The jumbled-up conditional, er, modals

Tweet My French textbook, French Reference Grammar (1993), has an index entry for the “conditional,” and in the section devoted to it, calls it “the mood of verbs tied to a condition.” My Greek grammar, Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (1997) also has a section on the conditional mood. My English grammar, […]

Funny language

Tweet As I head off for a few weeks in California (during which I will post from time to time, as I find interesting things to write about), I leave you with a smile on your face. Let’s begin with an homage to Yogi Berra, a Hall of Fame baseball player (and founder of a […]

Sports writing

Tweet A few years ago I was having coffee with a friend who worked at the time at The New York Times. We agreed that some of the best writing on the newspaper could be found on the sports page. Nothing earthshaking happens in sports –the player hits the baseball “out of the park” or […]

The not so mysterious disappearance of the past perfect

Tweet One of the cardinal virtues of good writing is clarity, and proper use of verb tenses is crucial to clarity. Since most students have never been informed of their purpose, or form, they trudge around in a swamp of verb tenses, using them arbitrarily without controlling them. The past perfect (the “had + past participle” […]

Find the Subject and Verb – “this” and “there” developments

Tweet In previous posts I wrote about Subject-Verb mismatches when a clause intervenes, and when a prepositional phrase intervenes. There is another, perhaps more pernicious, form of mismatching, the There is malformation.  This has become widespread not only in my students’ papers, but on television, in political speeches, and in print articles. Here are some examples […]

Find the Subject and Verb – Prepositional Phrase intervening

Tweet Several previous posts have discussed grammatical problems occurring in my classes this past semester. In the previous post, I discussed mismatched Subjects and Verbs when a clause intervened. This post addresses a similar error pattern, only this time the intervening language consists of prepositional phrases. Here are some examples from my students’ papers: The effects [of […]