ENGLISH HANDBOOK FOR UNIVERSITIES
ENGLISH HANDBOOK FOR UNIVERSITIES ENG 307
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Grammar Handbook Capella University | 225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor Minneapolis, MN 55402 | 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552) Grammar Handbook Table of Contents Introduction........................................................................ ............. 3 Sentence Basics........................................................................ ..... 4 Sentence Structure....................................................................... 19 Paragraph Structure..................................................................... 25 Word Choice ........................................................................ ......... 34 Punctuation........................................................................ ........... 47 Mechanics........................................................................ ............. 69 2 Grammar Handbook Introduction Many types of languages are used throughout the world to communicate dail y our countless ideas, beliefs, intentions, actions and feelings. And w mass media and the Internet, this interaction is occurring faster and more frequently with every passing second. Even specialized languages, such as mathematics and computer programming, are being used more often in an effort to create much desired and needed new processes and systems and to educate people. Therefore, as members of a growing global village encompassed by our dynamic information age, good language expression, usage, and comprehension are vital not only for accurately communicating with each other in many different ways and on many different levels, but also for correctly communicating with and managing our machines, structures and other synthetic systems as well as the organic systems we’ve inherited. Like most of the systems in the world and universe in which we live, languages are organic and continuously evolving systems within larger changing systems, such as our local, national and international communities. Within all languages, cultural traditions and conventions have shaped, organized, re-organized and normalized language subsystems, thereby, structuring overall language systems. So like culture, itself, language is ever-developing as conventions and traditional systems are forever challenged and language structure is permanently altered. Besides the inherent ever-evolving nature of languages, in a global information age much can be lost in translation between different languages and in t e inevitable meshing of cultures. Therefore, information dissemination and comprehension can be a challenge. However, as with many organic systems and their subsystems, chaos is a natural part of cycles, and in an all- encompassing global and ever-changing technological environment, as cultures and languages collide, they also merge to become one. 3 Grammar Handbook Sentence Basics Parts of Speech Parts of speech are sentence elements that work together to make up a sentence. Just as a car is not a functioning car without all of its synchronized parts working together, a sentence is not a functioning sentence without the correct usage and combination of its essential parts of speech. The difference is that not all basic sentence parts—or parts of speech—have to be included all of the time to actually make up a complete and functioning sentence, but its parts do have to work together accurately for a writer to convey his or her intended ideas. The basic parts of speech include: Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Preposition, and Article. Nouns • A noun is a word describing who or what in a sentence—it can be a person, place or thing. Remember, a “thing” can be anything—an animal, a device, a point, an object, an event, and so on. A noun is usually an essential part of any basic sentence. It’s typically who or what the sentence is about, but other nouns are often also included in longer or more complex sentences. Noun Examples : o Larry smiled. o Larry smiled at Isabel, Kevin, and their two dogs, Trevor and Lance. o Trevor and Lance were watching a show on Animal Planet. o Alaska is home to many interesting creatures. o That plain red wooden chair in the corner is a priceless antique. o The iceberg was massive underneath the water. o Austin, Texas is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” i but the New York Times created controversy when it referred to it as ii the “Live Music Capital of the South.” • A proper noun names a particular person, place or thing, and the first letter of a proper noun is always capitalized. From the examples listed above, Larry, Isabel, Kevin, Trevor, Lance, Animal Planet, Alaska, Austin, Texas, “Live Music Capital of the World,” New York Times, and “Live Music Capital of the South” are all proper nouns . • Common nouns are not specific and don’t require capitalization. From the examples listed above, dogs, show, creatures, chair, corner, antique, iceberg, and water are all common nouns. 4 Grammar Handbook Pronouns • Pronouns can be used in place of nouns (when appropriate), and a pronoun operates just like a noun in a sentence. It’s important to remember, however, to use pronouns carefully. Often times, writers make the mistake of referring to a noun with a pronoun without first providing and introducing the actual noun a pronoun is replacing. This creates confusion for readers since it’s then not clear who or what a pronoun is referring to. Also, once introduced, nouns should be mentioned again here and there throughout a paragraph to remind readers of the name or title of a noun (or noun phrase) even if it’s only a common noun, such as “philosophy student” or “kitten.” Nouns should be renamed even more often when many different nouns are being talked about in the same paragraph, especially when writers are describing interaction between characters or objects…e.g., He swore to her he would never deceive her again even though she was the one who had first lied to him about it after he told her what the other man told him she said. How many people are being referred to in the previous sentence? When starting a new paragraph, it’s also a good idea to re-introduce a noun in the first sentence since readers typically look for a change in thought or direction in a new paragraph. On the other hand, it is a good idea to use plenty of pronouns intermittently throughout paragraphs to replace nouns (once they’ve been introduced) so that all sentences don’t begin exactly the same or follow the exact same pattern each time. Sentences may start to sound redundant or choppy (and sometimes boring) when they’re all the same and become very predictable to readers. Without sacrificing meaning and direction in your paragraphs, it’s good to mix it up a bit with sentences. • Personal pronouns tend to come to mind first when we think about pronouns. It’s because most people use them a lot in their writing, and most writers instinctively know to use personal pronouns when referring to people or things even if they’re not always sure when or how often to use them. The main thing to remember about personal pronoun usage is that it is based on number, person and gender. However, with the factor, gender, a lot has changed over the years in English language usage when it comes to the political correctness (PC) of referring to a person by their gender. It’s something to keep in mind when writing since the main change has to do with writers no longer automatically referring to an anonymous someone as “he” or “him.” For instance: “A baseball pitcher must work constantly on the accuracy of his pitch.” How do we know the pitcher isn’t female? So, it’s better to replace the word “his” with either “his or her” or with the word “their.” Even though “their” is typically known as a plural 5 Grammar Handbook personal pronoun, it has now become an acceptable and gender-neutral way to refer to someone: “A baseball pitcher must work constantly on their pitch.” (More information on gender can be found in the Sexist Language section under Word Choice in this handbook.) Another thing to remember about personal pronouns is that when writers use certain statements or commands, such as “Stop!’ or “Listen to me!” the personal pronoun “you” is implied… “You stop!” or “You listen to me!” Personal Pronouns Person Number Singular Plural st 1nderson I (my, me) we (our, us) 2 Person you (your, you) you (your, you) 3 Person he (his, him) she (her, her) they (their, them) it (its, it) iii Personal Pronoun Examples : o He smiled at them, but I wish he would also smile at me. o You gave me your new recipe, so of course my lasagna tastes great. o Today, they watched it until she arrived; you will have to watch it all day tomorrow. o A philosophy student spends a lot of time writing papers for his or her courses. o A law student spends hours studying their law books. (gender-neutral) o They gave him to us yesterday, and we are really enjoying our new kitten. o Its name is Sunflower. Note : In most of the examples above, it’s not always clear who or what the sentence is about (besides a pronoun of some type). That’s why it’s important for a writer to make sure readers always know who or what is being referred to before using a huge splattering of personal pronouns to replace nouns in a paragraph. • Personal pronouns and slang go together like…well, a lot of people use slang pronouns. And in common everyday conversation, it’s usually very acceptable; however, as most academic writers probably know, words like “y’all” aren’t used in scholarly writing unless a writer is directly quoting someone else using such a word. Depending on various cultures and regions, different versions of the plural form of the pronoun “you” are used. Other slang personal pronouns include but are not limited to “you guys” (referring to males and females), or “yous guys” and “yous.” It’s only 6 Grammar Handbook necessary, however, to use “you” when addressing more than one person. (The word “dude” or “dudes” has been used as a personal pronoun recently too, but it’s also slang and shouldn’t be used in academic, business or formal writing.) • Pronoun confusion is common with certain personal pronouns: “I” versus “me” “we” versus “us” “it” versus “they” “I” is used as the “We” is used as a Use the pronoun “it” subject noun in a subject noun in a when referring to a sentence (person, sentence (person, singular non-human place, or thing a place, or thing a noun, but use “they” sentence is about), sentence is about), when referring to more whereas “me” is used whereas “us” is used as than one of anything. as the object noun. an object noun. Examples: Examples : Examples : I went fishing in the We are vacationing in The lion pride was an Gulf of Mexico. France next year. amazing site to see on (“I” = who the (“We” = who the the Serengeti even sentence is about.) sentence is about.) though it was from a distance. (“pride” = “it.”) Gina and I will scuba We, including several The corporation was very dive in Puget Sound. other people from generous with its (“Gina and I” = who another club, are donations. (A corporation the sentence is about.) participating in the race. or any other type of (“We” = who the organization is a single sentence is about.) entity.) Sherry called me last I’m surprised you asked All of the people working night from London. us to do the research. for the small corporation (“Sherry” = who the (“I” = who the sentence were well educated, and sentence is about.) is about.) they had all received their degrees from Capella University. (People in an organization = “they.”) You will give all of the We heard you were The data is organized by candy to Jimmy and excited to help us with division, but it is not me. (“You” = who the the marketing project. alphabetized or sentence is about (The sentence is about categorized by because “You" is the “We” first because it is department. noun performing the the noun performing the (“Data” can be used as a v action, “give,” even very first action, singular or plural noun.) though it’s in the “heard.”) possible future.) 7 Grammar Handbook Note: Confusion often occurs also around the words “your” and “you’re.” The word “your” is a personal pronoun (refer to the Personal Pronouns chart in this section), and the word “you’re” is the contraction for the words “you are.” Unfortunately, technology and computers have not helped us any with word confusion. Many a person has recently sent an email or instant message (IM) reply to someone across the Internet cloud saying, “Your welcome!” Whose welcome? • The possessive form of a personal pronoun is not punctuated with an apostrophe. For instance, many people get the words “its” and “it’s” mixed up. However, the word “its” is the possessive form of the pronoun “it,” whereas the word “it’s” is a contraction for the words “it is.” Possessive Personal Pronoun Examples: o Is that hamburger yours? (NOT: “your’s”) o Where is hers? (NOT: “her’s”) o Theirs was the first to compete in the race. (NOT: Their’s) o His is the book next to hers. (NOT: “her’s”) o Its characteristics are similar to the other dated sample’s characteristics. (NOT: “It’s”) o Ours is much bigger than yours. (NOT: “your’s”) o It’s sad that Harry’s transferring to another university. (CONTRACTION) • Reflexivepronouns are used only to reflect or refer back to the main noun of a sentence or the subject—who or what the sentence is about. Reflexive Pronoun Examples : Jerome hurt himself playing tennis. (Jerome) o Michelle struggled with herself over the issue. (Michelle) o I said to myself I would never get behind on my studies. (I) o The couple enjoyed themselves on vacation in Norway. (The couple) o We set ourselves on the right course and never looked back. (We) o You should prepare yourselves for a wonderful experience at the restaurant. (You) o It duplicated itself after a massive exposure to radiation and chemicals. (It) o NOT: The meeting will be attended by Miguel and myself. (The meeting?) o NOT: It’s only Cecilia and myself going. (It’s?) 8 Grammar Handbook Reflexive Pronouns Person Number Singular Plural 1 Person myself ourselves nd 2 Person yourself yourselves 3 Person himself herself themselves itself vi • Intensive reflexive pronouns are used to emphasize the subject of a sentence. Examples: o He himself will be the first to admit he was wrong. o I like chocolate cake with chocolate icing myself! • Reciprocaplronouns include “each other,” which refers to two nouns, and “one another,” which refers to more than two nouns. Examples : o Trevor and Rover always hurt each other when they play too rough. o Participants in the group support one another. • Demonstrative pronouns are used to determine “number” and proximity.” vii Examples : o This latte’ is yours, and that one is mine. o These shoes will be okay for hiking the low trail today, but you will need those boots for hiking the higher trail tomorrow. Demonstrative Pronouns Proximity Number Singular Plural Near This These Distant That Those viii Demonstrative pronouns may also be used to replace a common noun (or noun phrase) in a sentence as long as it’s first clear to readers who or what the pronoun is referring to. It’s not accurate to refer to a human as “that” or “this” 9 Grammar Handbook unless it precedes a noun: “That belongs to “this” man.” However, it is okay to refer to a group of humans as “those” or “these.” Examples: o The fast roller coaster caused my stomach to ache. That caused my stomach to ache. o Which kids knocked over the table? Oh, those. • Indefinipronouns are used to replace universal groups and general quantities or parts of groups or things. (They are also used as adjectives, which describe nouns.) Examples: o Many people joined the organization after the meeting. o One will know when it’s the right time. Indefinite Pronouns Quantifiers enough, few, fewer, less, little, many, much, several, more, most Universals all, both, each, every (everybody, everything, everyone), one (two, three….) Partitives any (anybody, anything, anyone), either, neither, none (nobody, nothing, no one), one (two, three….), some (somebody, something, someone) ix Verbs • verb is a word used in a sentence to explain what a noun—a person, place, or thing—is doing or to explain what’s being done to a noun. It’s usually an action word, but a verb or set of verbs can also explain an emotional/physiological response or action, (like “feel”) or a mental action or state,(like “think”) or a state of being, which may not typically be noticed or seen by others. For instance, the word “exist”x is a verb that can be used to explain what a person, place, or thing is doing even though such a word might not automatically come to mind when trying to think of a true action word. However, “exist” can be used to explain the state of being of a noun or noun phrase—even though it’s not necessarily an obvious or observable action. 10 Grammar Handbook What about the verb “mad?”—Is it always apparent when someonxiis mad? (And that could apply to both meanings of the verb “mad.” ) Yet, “mad” is a commonly used verb, but it’s not truly an action word. It’s more of a state of being or state of mind or emotion type of word. The verb “mad” is typically paired with some form of the verb “be.” For instance: “Gary was always mad at Katrina.” or “I am mad at you.” Therefore, even though verbs may not always be apparent action words, a verb of some sort (or set of verbs) is usually an essential element in any basic sentence. So, when in doubt about whether or not a word is a verb, check its meaning; usually, dictionaries list a word’s part of speech next to it. (Several online dictionaries are available, too, such as webster.com and dictionary.com.) Verb Examples: o Larry exists—his spirit haunts the motel every night. o Boris practices everyday in preparation for the tour. o Shots hurt. / Loss hurts. / Rover hurt the kitten when he licked its little ear. o When Katya first arrived in Roswell, New Mexico, she noticed a shooting star in the sky. o I produce short training films for my organization. o Sonja says she transcends her physical being during yoga. o The television exploded while we were on vacation—I thought I had switched it off right before we left! • VerbForms – Five factors come into play when determining what form a verb should take in a sentence: person, number, voice, mood, and tense. These are known as verb properties. Verb Properties Person Verbs are in the same person as the subject or noun/noun phrase. Examples: o I am planning to go to the museum. (First Person) o You are planning to go to the museum as well. (Second Person) o Jeffrey is planning to go with us to the museum. (Third Person) Number Verb forms match subject numbers/quantities. Examples: o The trip to Rome was planned in advance. o The trips to Rome were planned in advance. Voice Verbs explain either what a noun is doing or what’s being done to a noun—active voice versus passive voice. Verb forms change accordingly. Examples: 11 Grammar Handbook o Selma ate all of the raspberries. (Active Voice) o All of the raspberries were eaten by Selma. (Passive Voice) Mood Verb forms are sentence-type appropriate. Examples: o Listen! o Has he shopped at that store before? o I wish I had won the lottery last night. o If I knew how to tell him, I would. Tense Verbs indicate past, present, and future tense. Examples: o I do study. o I did practice yesterday. o I have done that once before myself. xii • VerbExpansion – Writers frequently use a combination of verbs, auxiliary or helping verbs. xiiOne or more of these words are used before the main verb in a sentence to alter a verb’s meaning to better fit the context of the intended message as it relates to the overall story. Auxiliary or helping verbs provide “variations in meaning related to tense (time) and such conditions as probability, possibility, obligation, and necessity (mood).”xivSometimes authors automatically use these verb phrases in their writing without even being aware of it. However, a writer may often find himself or herself stuck just trying to figure out a certain verb problem in a sentence because even though they may instinctively know something’s just not right, they’re not exactly sure what it is or how to fix it. This is often especially true when it comes to the use of auxiliary or helping verbs in sentences. Primary Auxiliary words include: Forms of “be” be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being Forms of “have” have, has, had Modals can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to Special auxiliary, “do” do, does, did xv Auxiliary/Helping Verbs Examples : o Larry will have existed for twenty years. o I do not want to go with you to Antarctica! o I should have studied more before the final exam. o We are inviting the entire class to New York. 12 Grammar Handbook o I am finishing my delicious pizza before I eat my chocolate cookie ice cream. o You could have told me to meet you right in front of the café; next time, you ought to let me know exactly where you’ll be. o Nancy can fly non-stop to Rome from New York. In the last example, the verbs “can fly” are used to show that “Nancy” has some options for flying to “Rome.” Because of the verb choices and sentence structure, we see that Nancy is not actually flying yet. What happens if the word “can” is left out? How would that change the meaning of the sentence? What form would the verb “fly” then need to take? Would that then deliver the same message as before?—not if Nancy hasn’t bought her airline ticket yet. • Proper tense and subject–verb agreement usage are crucial for conveying a writer’s intended message. Therefore, it’s not just about understanding verbs and/or groups of verbs that work together to form a verb phrase in a sentence (as demonstrated in the examples above), but more importantly, it’s about determining when to use a certain form of a verb(s) dependent upon the subject or noun/noun phrase of a sentence. Similarly, the beauty of music isn’t simply determined by its individual music notes, but what form they take and how the notes are put together and arranged to deliver a musician’s overall message. When music is composed in a logical and meaningful way, it is understood and felt by listeners. Overall, when selecting a verb(s) and determining its form , first, ask yourself a couple of questions: “Who or what is my sentence about?” and “What is the subject (person, place, or thing) of my sentence doing or trying to do, when and under what conditions/circumstances? Second, think about your overall intended message in the essay, manuscript or report you’re writing, and make sure your verb(s) works to enhance that message on the sentence level. (For more information on choosing words, see the Word Choice section in this handbook.) • Showing versus telling – You might remember in elementary school (depending on where you attended), your teacher asking you and your classmates to bring something in for a Show and Tell assignment. Kids would bring in to school a pet turtle or something else to show the class, and then they’d tell a story about it. Now, many higher learning English teachers encourage writers with the phrase: “Show—don’t tell.” xviWhat does it mean? And how are the two above ideas about “showing” and “telling” or “not telling” related? For adult learners, essays, manuscripts and reports, in most cases, aren’t accompanied by an object like a pet turtle of course; however, they may be accompanied by charts, graphs or pictures. These may help to tell a story. 13 Grammar Handbook Objects may, indeed, be demonstrated alongside presentations, but they don’t tell the whole story either. The main idea behind “Show—don’t tell” is for a writer to present a story in such a way that readers fully grasp his or her intended message and meaning. Readers can “see” and “feel” it. Writers want readers to experience what they read as in the following poem by American poet, Dunbar. DAWN An angel, robed in spotless white, Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night. Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone. Men saw the blush and called it Dawn Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) xvii Adjectives • Adjectives are descriptive words used in sentences to modify or describe nouns or pronouns, and they typically (but not always) precede them. Adjectives help add meaning to messages delivered in sentences by helping readers to better visualize or understand specifics about the nouns or pronouns they modify. They add richness to a sentence. Adjective Examples : o The famous musician had a guitar-shaped swimming pool behind his huge but gaudy Hollywood mansion. (WITH ADJECTIVES) The musician had a pool behind his mansion. (WITHOUT) o The sad, brown willow tree swayed gently in the wind. (WITH ADJECTIVES) The tree swayed in the wind (WITHOUT) o Many people are afraid of basements because they are often dark and cold. (WITH ADJECTIVES) People are afraid of basements. (WITHOUT) o We stayed on a remote, tropical South Pacific island surrounded by shimmering blue-green water that kissed pristine, white sandy beaches. (WITH ADJECTIVES) We stayed on an island surrounded by water that kissed beaches. (WITHOUT) 14 Grammar Handbook Adverbs • Adverbs are modifiers of verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or sentences. They are used to enhance one of these types of words or a sentence. For instance, adverbs modifying verbs often answer questions, such as: How? When? Where? Why? To what degree? xviOr to what extent of xix quality/quantity? Adverb Examples: o Helen shouted loudly. o Sara’s plane flew faster than Camille’s plane. o Honestly, I cannot attend the wedding. o The meeting went very badly. o The bridge was pretty wide. (not formal) o Tomorrow, I’ll talk to our instructor about the project, or you can talk to her today. • Adverbclauses modify verbs and also answer questions, such as: How? When? Where? And Why? (For more information on these types of clauses, see the section on Sentence Subordination under Sentence Expansion.) Adverb Clause Examples: o When you knocked at the front door, I must’ve been in the shower. I must’ve been in the shower when you knocked at the front door. o After you find the keys, we can go for a drive. We can go for a drive after you find the keys. Prepositions • Prepositions join parts of sentences. For instance the sentence, “I found my keys on the car,” is linked by the preposition “on” and would not make sense without it. Prepositions act as a bridge between two parts of a sentence and provide readers with information, such as location and time. Location – Preposition Examples : o Connie and Roger drove from Tucson to Atlanta in just four days. o The disease had spread throughout the village. 15 Grammar Handbook o The object is _____?_____ the box. above over on at in beside beneath under Time – Preposition Examples : o Jedd has been waiting for his test results since last week. o The dictator ruled the small country throughout the last century. o He will continue working until his replacement is found. Defining – Preposition Examples: o Henry took his son to see a movie despite his son’s behavior earlier that day. o Cassandra made cookies for her classmates. o Mohammed was happy about the upcoming camping trip. Common Prepositions about behind for onto toward above below from out under across beneath in outside underneath after beside inside over until against between into past up along beyond like since upon among by near through with around despite of throughout within at down off till without before except on to xx Articles • Anarticle always precedes a singular noun unless a noun is universal or all- encompassing. In some cases, plural forms of nouns are also preceded by an article. This occurs when plural nouns are specific. 16 Grammar Handbook Articles nonspecific nouns a, an specific noun the Examples: o A party was planned in his honor. o The party went well last weekend. o Jim was made an honorary member of the yacht club. o The boys were found fishing near the bridge. o Culture affects individuals. o The culture and history of the Mississippi River is quite fascinating. o The data will be evaluated. / Data will be evaluated. References “Basic Grammar Guide to the Parts of Speech: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs & Prepositions, and How They Combine to Form Clauses, Phrases, and Sentences that Express Complete Thoughts.” Quick Study Academic: English Grammar & Punctuation. (2003). BarCharts, Inc. Beason, Larry & Lester, Mark. A Commonsense Guide to Grammar and Usage. (2006). Boston, MA: Beford/St. Martin’s. Churchill, Winston. Brainy Quote. Brainy Media.com. (2007). http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill.html Dunbar, Paul L. “Dawn.” Great American Poetry. Ed. George Gesner. (1983). Crown Publishers, Inc. Kolln, Martha. Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects: Fourth Edition. (2003). New York: Person Education, Inc. Lewis, Peter H. “What's Doing in: Austin.” The New York Times: nytimes.com. (2004, February 22.) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A06E2D7173DF931A157 51C0A9629C8B63&sec=travel&spon=&pagewanted=print MacFadyen, Heather. “The Parts of Speech: What is a Preposition?” The Writing Centre: HyperGrammar. University of Ottawa. (2007). http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar/preposit.html Merriam-Webster online. (2007). http://www.webster.com/dictionary/exist 17 Grammar Handbook Thoreau, Henry D. “Mist.” Great American Poetry. Ed. George Gesner. (1983). Crown Publishers, Inc. Zeller, Tom, Jr. “Don’t Mess with Austin’s Music Moniker.” (2006, November 29.) The Lede: Notes on the News from Mike Nizza. The New York Times: nytimes.com. (2007, May 25, Friday.) http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/29/dont-mess-with-austins- music-moniker/ Bibliography MacFadyen, Heather. “The Parts of Speech: What is an Adjective?” The Writing Centre: HyperGrammar. University of Ottawa. (2007). http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar/adjectve.html 18 Grammar Handbook Sentence Structure Sentence Construction Basic sentence construction is something learned in beginning English language courses; however, as life happens and time goes by, many of these first learned English fundamentals begin to elude us. After a quick review, though, it usually all comes back, and good sentence construction becomes a bit easier to pu t into practice on a daily basis. What is a Sentence? • A basic sentence is a complete thought or idea—subject + predicate. It’s also known as a simple sentence. Subject (Noun Phrase) – One of two main parts of a sentence containing the subject noun or a pronoun—a person, place or thing— often accompanied by modifiers. Therefore, the noun or pronoun is who or what the sentence is about. Predicate – One of two main parts of a sentence containing the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb. Subject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUNÆ [ Predicate ] Sentence • We first learn that a “basic” sentence is made up of a noun and a verb. Example: She jumped. However, after our first English lessons, we learn to construct more sophisticated sentences. Example : Henry plays video games too much. —where “Henry” = subject noun, “plays” = verb, and “video games” is the object noun. Therefore, the words, “plays video games too much,” make up the predicate . The object of a sentence is the noun or pronoun directly related to and affected by the subject’s action (verb). The object is NOT who or what a sentence is mainly about; it’s not the focus of the sentence. 19 Grammar Handbook Sentence Building Blocks • A phrase is a cluster of connected words that do not form a complete idea or sentence. • A clause consists of a subject (noun/noun phrase) and a predicate (verb/verb phrase). It can either be an independent clause (simple sentence), or it can be a dependent clause that relies on an independent clause to form a complete sentence. (For more information on dependent/independent clauses, see Sentence Expansion.) • A simple sentence contains a subject (noun/noun phrase) and a predicate (verb/verb phrase). It communicates one complete idea as an independent clause. It’s a complete sentence. • A compound sentence is the logical combination of two complete thoughts or independent clauses to form one sentence. It is usually linked by a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon, but subordinating conjunctions used in a complex sentence can be used as coordinators as well to form a compound sentence as it were. (For more information, see Sentence Coordination/Subordination under Sentence Construction.) • A complex sentence includes a dependent clause linked to an independent clause by a subordinating conjunction of some kind to form a complete sentence. Sentence Types • Declarative sentences state a fact. Example : Rene’ loves playing football. • Imperative sentences give an order. Example: Trevor, fetch the ball. • Interrogatisentences ask questions. Example : Which countries did you visit while in Europe? • Exclamatorysentences exclaim. Example : Help me! Sentence Expansion Combining Sentences 20 Grammar Handbook What if you want to combine two (or more) complete thoughts or sentences to create a compound sentence or a complex sentence? Joining related ideas allows writers to avoid “choppiness” caused from overuse of short or blunt sentences. There is more than one way to unite two (or more) sentences. However, two complete sentences (independent clauses) may only be joined by a conjunction of some type or a semicolon, whereas dependent clauses connected to independent clauses use subordinating conjunctions. Subject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUNÆ ÅSubject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUN [ Predicate ] [ Predicate ] Sentence Sentence Equal/complete sentences must be joined correctly, or run-ons and comma splices will occur and become a problem in writing. • Run-on sentences and comma splices occur when two complete thoughts are combined incorrectly. Examples of what NOT to do are as follows: NOT : Kerry loves to play the guitar she is a wonderful musician. (RUN-ON) NOT: Jeff likes sports, he coaches soccer in his spare time. (COMMA SPLICE) The first sentence is incorrect because it’s a run-on sentence ; it needs a comma and a conjunction, or it needs a semicolon. The second sentence is incorrect because of a comma splice—a coordinating conjunction is needed after the existing comma, or the comma should be changed to a semicolon. In both sentences, two or more complete thoughts are joined without proper punctuation/coordination or subordination. Sentence Coordination • Coordination —two or more complete ideas or thoughts are combined that could each stand alone as independent clauses (or simple sentences) (each containing a subject + predicate). Subject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUNÆ ÅSubject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUN [ Predicate ] [ Predicate ] Sentence Sentence Use one of the seven coordinating conjunctions—for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (a.k.a. FANBOYS)—with a comma included beforehand to combine sentences. 21 Grammar Handbook Sentenc eoordinationxamples : o Rene’ missed Alaska, for he longed for its beauty and tranquility. o Javier prepared a great Italian dinner, and he served expensive Italian red wine. o Rachel was not ready for marriage, nor was she ready for a real commitment of any type. o You may not have French fries, but you may have salad. o Helen may visit her grandmother for Thanksgiving, or she might wait until winter break. o Keith worried about the wounded bird, yet he didn’t want to be responsible for it. o We will be in Sweden for three weeks, so we’ll have plenty of time to soak up the culture. Sentence Subordination • Subordination —two or more ideas or thoughts are combined that could NOT stand alone as independent clauses (if the subordinating conjunction begins the first clause). Sometimes sentences are combined so that one clause is dependent upon another clause or phrase. In other words, because of its structure and correlation to another sentence, a dependent sentence cannot stand alone. Subject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUNÆ ÅSubject-NOUN + VERB + Object-NOUN Sentence Sentence • Below is a list of words commonly used to set up a dependent clause combined with an independent clause to form a complex sentence. Notice that some of the subordinating conjunctions in the table below are prepositions. Subordinating Conjunctions after asg even if rather that until whereas as only although as even if in since though when wherever though order as because even now so till whenever while though that that 22 Grammar Handbook as if before if once than unless where Sentence Subordination Examples : o So that it can be used in a study next year, the specimen will be frozen now. o As long as Mr. Wei goes to China, I will volunteer to go as well. o Now that the quarter is over, I can take a break from school. o Once you find your soul mate, never take them for granted. o Whenever we visit Orlando, Florida, my family always enjoys Disneyworld the most. o While it might seem like a case study about corporate leadership, it is really a case study about teamwork. o Now that the oven is hot, Jack can bake chicken parmesan. • Changing complex sentences to compound sentences mostly involves flipping complex sentences around. The following examples combine two equal sentences, but instead of using coordinating conjunctions with a comma to join the two independent clauses, a subordinating conjunction is used to combine them instead in each example. When a subordinating conjunction is used in this manner, there is no subordinate clause. Just like with coordinating conjunctions, then, each sentence could stand alone as an independent clause. A comma is not needed when subordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses. Examples : o The specimen will be frozen now so that it can be used in a study next year. o I will volunteer to go as well as long as Mr. Wei goes to China. o I can take a break from school now that the quarter is over. o Never take them for granted once you find your soul mate. o My family always enjoys Disneyworld the most whenever we visit Orlando, Florida. o It is really a case study about teamwork while it might seem like a case study about corporate leadership. o Jack can bake chicken parmesan now that the oven is hot. Note : There’s another type of conjunction that has not been covered here so far; however, it is NOT used to combine complete sentences, NOR does it usuall y require commas. It’s worth mentioning, though, because correlative conjunctions can easily be confused with other types of conjunctions (listed above), especially since correlative conjunctions include some of the words used as coordinating conjunctions (e.g., “or” and “nor”). However, correlative conjunctions come in 23 Grammar Handbook pairs and link similar kinds of words and/or sentences. Some of the most commonly used correlative conjunctions are included in the following table: Correlative Conjunctions either/or Example : We can see either a play or a movie. neither/nor Example : He was neither saint nor sinner in my eyes. not only/but also Example: Your instructor is not only flexible but also fair. whether/or Example : I don’t know whether to visit Africa or China next year. both/and Example : Both my best friend and my fiancée will attend graduation. as/as Example : Your dog isn’t as big as my dog. Bibliography “Basic Grammar Guide to the Parts of Speech: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs & Prepositions, and How They Combine to Form Clauses, Phrases, and Sentences that Express Complete Thoughts.” Quick Study Academic: English Grammar & Punctuation. (2003). BarCharts, Inc. Bryson, Linda. English Conjunctions. Georgia State University. Department of Applied Linguistics & ESL. (1997.) http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwesl/egw/bryson.htm#list%20sub Erichsen, Gerald. “Correlative Conjunction” About.com: Spanish Language. (2007). http://spanish.about.com/cs/grammar/g/correlconjgl.htm Learn English: LEO Network: English Grammar - Simple Sentence Construction. (2006). http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/sentencetext.htm#Object 24 Grammar Handbook Paragraph Structure Paragraph Elements Paragraphs can be viewed as groups of mini papers that make up larger papers (e.g., essay, manuscript or report). Just as a paper is made up of certain elements—an introduction, a body and a conclusion—so is each paragraph but on a smaller scale. The table below compares the two. Elements of a Paper compared with Elements of a Paragraph Paper Paragraph Introduction Introductory/Topic Sentence (I/T) (with main idea/thesis statement) (provides main idea of paragraph) Body Body (with paragraphs) (with points, evidence and synthesis) Conclusion Concluding Sentence (restates main idea/thesis statement) (restates idea in I/T sentence and “hints” at what’s coming in the next paragraph) Another way to think about paragraphs in a paper is to imagine a court case or trial. Attorneys present a case to a judge or jury for a client. They then attempt to prove their case with evidence. The goal of an attorney, of course, is to persuade the judge or jury to believe what they present so that their client will receive the best possible outcome. Like an attorney, a writer can view his or her audience as the judge or jury. Paragraphs in a paper are small units of information that hold points and evidence. Each point and evidence set works together to prove the overall idea or thesis statement of a paper. Introductory/Topic Sentences • Introductosentences in a paragraph inform readers of the paragraph topic; hence, introductory sentences are also called topic sentences. Each paragraph should only have one topic or main idea; otherwise, paragraphs will be confusing and readers won’t be able to follow a writer’s train of thought. An introductory/topic sentence is usually the very first sentence of a paragraph, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it can be even the second sentence in a paragraph…maybe even the third. However, if placed much further away from the beginning of a paragraph, there is a good chance readers will be lost and have no idea what the paragraph is supposed to be about. Introductory/Topic Sentences can be categorized into types: Intro/Topic Sentence Types 25 Grammar Handbook Type Function Direct Purpose announcement. Now, I will tell you why we should support the Daffy Duck presidential campaign. Question Purpose in the form of a Why Should we question. support the Daffy Duck presidential campaign? Nutshell (most common) Overall idea—mini/partial The third reason Daffy version of thesis. Duck should be president is…. Address the Reader Confronts reader about You might be what they are wondering why we thinking/wondering. should support the Daffy Duck presidential campaign. Connect to Previous Goes back to the last An example of a good Paragraph paragraph’s idea. campaign supporter.... Alert Shows paragraph’s Everyone will regret it importance or calls if they don’t support attention to an upcoming the Daffy Duck paragraph point. presidential campaign…. xxi Note: Normally, personal pronouns like “I” or “you” are not used in academic or professional papers. Be sure to ask your instructor if these personal pronouns are acceptable in a particular assignment. Points • In the first part of a paragraph body, specific points should be made relating to the intro/topic sentence. (Sometimes a point can even be made within the intro/topic sentence.) These points express a writer’s explicit opinions about the main idea of the paragraph. After all, the whole purpose of writing a paper is to express one’s own opinion (i.e., thesis statement) and ideas on a matter. Therefore, it makes sense that each paragraph produces one’s own detailed ideas or points relating to his or her entire opinion on an issue. As such, each intro/topic sentence ties back to the thesis statement or overall idea of a paper. For example, upon examining any textbook readers will notice the same to be true in paragraphs within chapters of a textbook. Each intro/topic sentence 26 Grammar Handbook reflects the overarching idea of the textbook, and each point made in each paragraph breaks down the main idea of the intro/topic sentence. Are textbooks based on opinion though? Use critical thinking skills to determine the answer to the previous question. Another example is a newspaper article—is it based on opinion? Theoretically, it’s not supposed to be. Are its points based on the reporter’s take on the story? Reporters are supposed to be non-biased in their writing. However, opinion affects all writing—no matter what type of writing it is. Reporters must be especially careful about the points they make. Example: “A man was shot today by a police officer.” versus “A man was murdered today by a police officer.” Yet, in both sentences an opinion is expressed than must be proven with evidence. How a writer feels about something always comes across in his or her text. This is how the phrase, “read between the lines,” came to be. Likewise, even the academic paper based on peer reviewed scientific research and study, and written with austere analytical and logical prowess and supported with solid facts/evidence, is influenced in some way by the writer’s opinions or how they see things. For instance, does the author write about flaws in a study that was conducted? This is when critical thinking techniques come into play. Your job as a learner is to question everything—then compare it, dissect it, judge it and write about it. Next, your job is to provide evidence to back up what you’re saying and to prove it. That’s the purpose of research, experimentation and learning and writing about it. Evidence & Supporting Details • Evidence/Supporting Details —In order to prove points made in a paragraph, one must show that his or her points are valid and based on facts and/or experiences. Here is where a writer leaves out their opinions. Although, your opinion on something may, indeed, influence the research or experiences you’ve chosen to use as evidence, you only want to provide facts to back up your points (opinions) in this part of the paragraph. What may be used as evidence or supporting detail? Going back to the court case example in the beginning of this section, think of the things an attorney might use as evidence. Your evidence will be similar except that instead of providing objects that can be seen and examined as in many court cases or trials, you will provide evidence from your references and source material. You evidence is seen and examined by your readers through words. Example : Attorney (addressing the jury): Clearly, Mr. Jones couldn’t have stolen his neighbor’s lawn mower on 27 Grammar Handbook June 2 ndbecause he was out of town that day. (OPINION POINT—UNTIL PROVEN) Attorney continues: How do we know that Mr. Jones was out of town? Well, Mr. Jones was in Las Vegas on June 2 , and I have in my hand a copy of his airline ticket and itinerary with the departure and arrival dates listed. He was in Las st th Vegas from June 1 until June 4 according to airline records. Also, I have a copy of his hotel bill from the Las Vegas Starstruck Hotel listing corresponding dates. (EVIDENCE) Therefore, as a learner, you must prove what you say in your papers. Some of the things writers can use as evidencexxii supporting detail are: reasons, examples, names, numbers and senses. Syntheses • Synthesizing in paragraph making is often a step left out by writers because it is either too confusing or is unknown. The word itself seems to confuse people. Basically, the word, synthesis, means to combine things. xxiiCreating syntheses is also a key part of critical thinking—meshing your points and evidence into logical and convincing sentences. This is usually one sentence in a paragraph, but it can be more than one. This is where you tell readers why and how your evidence backs up your points. It takes some thought, but practice will make it easier, if not perfect. Concluding Sentences • Concluding Sentences wrap up and logically conclude what’s been said in a paragraph. Ideally, a concluding sentence points back to the main idea of a paragraph’s intro/topic sentence to complete a full circle of thought and exploration on a paragraph idea. At the same time, a concluding sentence should “hint” at ideas in the following paragraph to help set up smooth transition between paragraphs. For example, think of music played by a professional DJ and how one song blends in with the next song in a music set. In media production (e.g., music, film, and etc.), these smooth transitions between scenes or songs or other artistic pieces are called segues. Likewise, writers should segue between paragraphs so that paragraphs flow enhancing the overall development of an essay, manuscript, report, or any form of writing. 28 Grammar Handbook ¶ ¶ ¶ Paper ¶ ¶ ¶ Focus Focus is the glue that holds a paragraph together. The overall idea announced in the intro/topic sentence resonates in every paragraph sentence as every sentence bonds to the next. A reader should be able to look at an intro topic sentence of any paragraph and instantly “get” what a paragraph is about— paragraph sentences have an obligation to hold up an intro/topic sentence. Hence, intro/topic sentences represent subtopics of a paper’s overarching idea or thesis statement. This can be reflected in a table of contents or an outline. If a writer uses a reverse outline to go through their rough draft, they sho
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