grammar exercises

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Find the Subject and Verb – Clause intervening

Tweet As discussed in a previous post, students have not been prepared in high school to identify the Subject and Verb of a sentence. The argument against teaching grammar is that we need no tutoring to create comprehensible sentences, unless there is some mental dysfunction. Volumes could be written about that contention, and I will not […]

Paying the piper 2: The failure of American high schools

Tweet A couple of blog posts ago, I presented some cockamamie sentences from my students. The sentences suggested to me that the students did not have a handle on the rules for constructing sentences. They confused spoken English with written English, but the sentences cited would not be used in spoken English.  This baffled, and […]

Paying the Piper – the failure of American high schools

Tweet A second semester college student included this language in the third, and final, draft of her essay on “love and marriage.”  I like many other people are surprised by the amount of time couples stay together.  Not to mention adopting a child. After the final drafts had been turned in, I culled 22 similarly […]

Identifying nouns

Tweet From another blog I got a class exercise which proved useful in an unexpected way. A third party gave it to me, so I don’t know whom to credit. Exercise:  The Unknown Blogger first chose a brilliant description by John Steinbeck, from Cannery Row: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a […]

A confession

Tweet What do you do when a college freshman, who has passed the required classes and tests to get into college, says the Subject of the sentence, After being forced to look into a deeper meaning I realized how that one little factor could alter your mood, is “mood?”  (Please ignore the other problems with […]

The skeleton sentence expanded

Tweet Language probably began when people gave names to things, people, and actions. It has developed into a sophisticated, flexible instrument since then.  The language in the exercise below is akin to a primitive pidgin, but was probably the way our earliest ancestors spoke when language was first developing. Exercise: Take the skeletal sentence elements […]