Posts tagged ‘Grammar’

Parts of Speech

What we call the “Parts of Speech” can often be confusing and overlooked. I struggled as a child because I could not, for the life of me, remember them all and what they were for. For the most part, I just didn’t care. I mean really, the Parts of Speech are pretty boring. Kudos to whoever gets butterflies when they see a noun, but for the rest of us lesser mortals, here is a list with descriptions for each one:

Noun: describes a person, place, or thing.
EXAMPLES:  unicorn, inmate, bonzai, poison, ghoul, Barak Obama, Egpyt, hamburger, onion rings, submarine, Hell, serial killer, whale, volcano, spider, light bulb, key, raindrop.

Pronouns: words that replace nouns to make writing and speaking from sounding too ridiculous. For instance, you could say, “Johnny went to church, but johnny forgot johnny’s pants.” By adding pronouns, that sentence sounds a hundred times better. “Johnny went to church, but he forgot his pants.” The best way to remember pronouns is by noticing that it has the words “noun” in it. Now that you know it has something to do with nouns, it’s easy to recall that pronouns simply replace nouns.
EXAMPLES: I, me, he, she, it, they, you, them, his, hers, theirs, its, my, your, we, us.

Verbs: words that show action, or WHAT is being done in a sentence.
EXAMPLES: spitting, throwing, vomiting, catching, bombing, sneezing, itching, praying, ordering me a pizza (just kidding…. but really), sweating, blogging, mining, pms-ing, gaming, painting, smoking, mating.

Adverbs: describe HOW the action is being done. For example, one might say “Regan vomits violently on the exorcist.” In this case, “violently” acts as the adverb because it describes the manner in which she is vomiting. Adverbs usually end in “ly,” making them easy to recognize.
EXAMPLES: angrily, happily, maniacally, spontaneously, joyously, tastefully, colorfully, recently.

Adjectives: words that describe the actual noun.
EXAMPLES: smelly, blue, fluffy, piratey, orange, expensive, beautiful, intelligent, holy, tiny, scrawny, wood, metal, ghostly.

Prepositions: these words link other parts of the sentence together, often showing relationships. Some teachers describe it as “anything a rabbit can do to a box.”
EXAMPLES: through, for, against, without, around, out, by, in, with, after, from, to, on, behind, before, near, over, under.

Conjunctions: link two parts of a sentence, or clauses, together.
EXAMPLES: and, but, or, since, when, while, because, though, that, until, although, whether, yet, unless, neither, nor, now.

Interjections: these can be words or phrases that express emotion, but do not necessarily have grammatical relevancy to the sentence. For instance, if one was to say, “Brr! This nuclear winter is very cold!” the interjection would be “brr.”
EXAMPLES: dear God, oh Lord, brrr, yay, wow, yuck, aha, alas, oh dear, oh well, oops, ouch, shh, thanks, yikes, yo, gee whiz, golly, damn, jinkies.

You’re probably thinking, “well, this is interesting, but what do I do with it?” It sometimes feels like having a solid knowledge of the eight Parts of Speech has little use outside of an English classroom. In reality, it can be one of the most powerful tools in a writers toolbox. One can turn boring, unimportant sentences into beautiful works of literary art.

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Top 10 Most Annoying Grammar and Speech Violations

1. Their, there, they’re: The incorrect usage of the word “there” is a common mistake, especially for those who read less than average. The same mistake goes for words like “two, to, and too,” as well as “then and than.”

“Their” is the possessive form of “they.”
Example: Making the Pizza was their responsibility.

“There” refers to where something is located.
Example: The library is over there.

“They’re” is a conjunction of the phrase “they are.”
Example: They’re leaving. 

2. Run-ons and fragments: People tend to write the way they think, whether it be in a thought pattern that just goes on and on or one that doesn’t seem to go anywhere at all. This results in run-ons and sentence fragments.

Run-on: There were only five mirrors but I bought them anyway because we have enough money even though we just paid rent because the landlord wanted it early. 

Fragment: The bird sang happily while.

3. Incomplete adverbs: Especially in Utah, many people tend to drop the “ly” when using adverbs. Adverbs are words that describe the manner in which something is done. Some examples are quickly, carefully, happily, and angrily.

-Correct: The movie was really good.
-Incorrect: The movie was real good.

4. Tense confusion: Tense confusion is most often displayed with the word “seen.” For instance, people say, “I seen that movie.” This seems to be an incomplete use of the English past perfect tense. The correct usage is listed below, as well as another tense option that would make the sentence correct:

Past Perfect: I had seen that movie.
Narrative Past: I saw that movie.

5. Texting shorthand in prose: Although shortening words and using clever abbreviations is highly useful when texting or chatting online, using them when writing academically is completely inappropriate. Some of the most common examples are:

– 2 (to)
– 4 (for)
– @ (at)
– ppl (people)
– lol
– U (you)

6. Wrong vocabulary: Like using the wrong “to,” people frequently throw in a lot of impressive words to make their writing or speech seem richer and more intelligent. This only works if that word is appropriate for the context of how it is being used. If you’re not sure if the word fits,  look up the dictionary definition and examples or ask a friend how it sounds. Using a lot of big words incorrectly just makes a person look stupid. One way to avoid this is by writing a simple, straightforward version first, then later exploring more interesting vocabulary.

7. “Like”: The word “like” is commonly used to introduce an example or fill the place of a sentence where a writer or speaker is unsure of what to say. Instead of using “like,” one can say “for example.” Rewording sentences and putting more thought behind them can prevent one from having to use “like” as a filler word.

8. Mispronunciation: Hearing someone mispronounce words can be very distracting and annoying. Here are some of the most common with examples of proper pronunciation:

– Feel (FEE-l)                                                 don’t say: fill
– Crayon (crAY-on)                                     don’t  say: cran, crown
– Pillow (PI-low)                                          don’t say: pellow
– Real (REE-ul)                                             don’t say: rill
– Nuclear (new-KLEE- ur)                       don’t say: nucular
– Often (off-TEN)                                         don’t say: offen
 Picture (PIC-chur)                                    don’t say: pitcher

9. Double negatives: The most commonly used double negative is “irregardless.” The correct form is simply “regardless,” which means “despite the prevailing circumstances.” By adding the prefix “ir,” one is ultimately saying the exact opposite of what he or she is trying to say.

10. Apostrophe errors: Apostrophes are used only to show ownership or to make conjunctions. If a word is plural or simply ends in an “s,” no apostrophe is needed. If a word ends in an “s” and shows ownership, the apostrophe goes at the end of the word.

Correct: The Jones’ family is visiting tomorrow.
Correct: The teacher graded Jessica’s term paper.
Incorrect: Her eye’s are beautiful.

Note: Although most of the world considers the apostrophe at the end of a possessive “s” word correct, Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition has changed the rules. Now, all you have to do is add “es” (I refuse to abide by this rule because it is ridiculous).