Tag Archive | verbs

Grammar’s so confusing with all those terms!

As a writer, I, obviously, use grammar on a daily basis. As someone who works in a writer center (I edit students’ papers for them.) I also come across grammar regularly.

However, when I’m editing someone else’s paper, we’ll call her Mary, my convesation generally goes like this:

“Now, we want to place a comma here, because this is–it’s something special, but I forgot the name to it. But it’s like when we have ‘My sister, comma, Ellanna,’ that’s what we’re going for here.”

The only grammatical terms I can remember right now involve noun, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions and articles. If I’m lucky, I’ll remember the difference between a phrase and a clause.

And yet… And yet my boss in the writing center (G.), thinks I’m good. Why? I’m not sure. But I made the comment that I’m thinking about being an English teacher and I still can’t remember a lot of the names of things yesterday. Nearly all of my editing is intuitive.

She responded by pointing out that it’s actually okay. The fact that I know it intuitively is actually good. When I need to teach about something, I’ll have a textbook.

This brings up the whole question of whether one should even bother teaching grammar at a school, or if one should teach students how to edit instead. Right now, my intuitive skill has been developed over years and years of editing.  However, that’s a whole entire other post.

The point is right now that you don’t need to know a lot. My advice: know what makes a sentence. That’s all you need to know and all you need to know how to place are commas and periods. Don’t bother with M-dashes, and semicolons, and colons. Then, get people to edit it for you, look at how other people write, and I think you may learn in time.

Just remember: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!

“I’m not a very good writer, but I am an excellent rewriter.”

–James Michener

Let’s remove passive sentences.

We all have them. They sneak into your writing and are evil little things that make the writing boring and dull. Passive sentences, namely ones that contain the words was and were.

The problem is that we don’t see them. They are invisible as well as evil. So how do we get the removed?

My technique is different than most. I propose that you do a find and replace for all your wases as 1234567890. Change were to 0987654321. This way it is an obvious thing to your eyes. However, once you go through all of your rewriting, you can immediately change them back to was and were that showed up in dialog.

That’s just how I do it. Maybe you can try it and tell me what happens.

Happy Birthday!

Doesn't it look so good?!


No, it’s not my birthday. It’s actually Always A Writer’s birthday. One year ago was when I began this blog. I started it before I knew that most writers in this day and age should have blogs and mostly because I just wanted a place to really look at and rejoice with my writing.

Since then, I have written 276 posts, and 41 pages. I’ve had 155 comments (and 444 spam comments).

Last January, I had an average of 8 viewers a month. Last month (November), we had an average of 19 viewers a month. 4,164 people have viewed parts of this website, and my busy day was March 31st, with a total of 68 people.

Maybe it’s not as busy as some people’s blogs, but I’m pretty satisfied. I’m just hoping that this continues to grow.

So, instead of me rambling on about how difficult it is to rewrite a story (I will do that though. Soon. Since I’m activity doing it right now.), I think that I will give some awards to some posts.

please know the following terms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, sentences:

This is the most popular post by far, with a total of 679 views. I honestly don’t think a day goes by when someone doesn’t find it via google or something.

The second most common page is on Character Weakness. Sometimes just finding a quick look at possible weakness helps build a character.

A few other of my more favorite posts include All Writers Have Some Mental Illness,  How to be a Writer in 5 [Marginally] Easy Steps, and Six Tips on the Art of Killing Characters. The mental illness one is just plain humorous, the how to be a writer one is just helpful, and the art of killing characters is one of the more popular one again.

There are many, many other popular posts and there are just as many posts that got almost nothing, and I still thought would be helpful. Such as Building Religions (Only 9 views since April.), Cultural differences in the MidWest (5 since last December.) The Beneifit of Not Writing Often and even One Sentence Summaries (4 since October 25th)

So that’s about a summary of this past year. Hopefully, next year will be even better (I keep hoping to get Freshly Pressed to be plain.), I’ll learn more, and maybe I’ll even start doing what would be best for me to do. (Such as write synopses.)

Anything you want to see change here?

(And no, I’m not being all stalkerish with the stats. WordPress gives them to me, and I find it helpful to know what people want.)

please know the following terms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, sentences

I have been writing for almost eight years now, I’ve taken an English class at school (and did well enough that the teacher recommended that I apply for a tutoring job) and I have worked at the writing center editing students’ papers for a whole semester. So I have some clue about grammar.

The fact is that you don’t need to know everything in grammar. Who cares what a complex-complete sentence or a past perfect verb is?  (Well, I do, but I don’t know off the top of my head. And honestly, very few people who came to me at the writing center cared to know either.)

However, there are some basic parts of grammar that you need to know in order to edit your paper.

Nouns: Simply, an noun is any visible object. A name is also a noun (properly called a noun of direct address). However, nouns can also be things like virtues and emotions. Nouns are what do the action in the sentance.

Two things to understand with nouns. Although not always, nouns can either function as subjects or objects in a basic sentence. In general, subjects come before the verb and objects come after the verb. (They also function quite commonly as objects of the preposition, but, because I don’t think you need to know what a preposition is, I won’t go there.)

Verbs: Verbs, simply, are action words, like jump, type, listen, talk, said. Other verbs, called passive verbs, are words like was, were, has, had, ect. A passive word means the action was not done by the subject. (“My comb was broken,” vs. “Someone broke my comb.”) Whenever I mention avoid passive words, I particularly mean you should delete “was/were” from your writing.

Verbs and nouns are the basic building blocks of sentences.

Adjective: Adjectives modify or describe nouns. Take a noun–girl–and put an adjective on it–tall girl, short girl, fat girl, skinny girl. Adjectives almost always go before the noun. Sometimes adjectives will come after the noun in a prepositional phrase, such as, dashboard of the car. These should be changed to read “car’s dashboard.”

Adverbs: The difference between adjectives and adverbs is that adjectives describe nouns while adverbs describe verbs. So if we take a verb–typed–and put an adverb on it–typed quickly.  in general, the way to recognize an adverb is if it ends in -LY. Also, adverbs, unlike adjectives, can be found in a variety of locations, from the beginning to the end of a sentence. Examples:

Quickly, she ran to the store.

She quickly ran to the store.

She ran quickly to the store.

She ran to the store quickly.

Although adverbs can go anywhere, as seen above, most people agree that adverbs are better the closer they are to the verb.

Conjunction: These combine two similar thoughts or phrases together to form one unit. Coordinating conjunctions are simple:  For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.  However, there are also subordinating conjunctions, which are much more common as you shall soon see.

Now, let’s put this all together. In order to be a reasonable proofreader, you need to be able to recognize a complete sentence.

Sentences: In a sentence, you need a noun and a verb. If you have more than one of either of those, you need a conjunction, a semi colon or a period. Confusing? Yeah, probably. Just hang with me.

You can have something called a very simple sentence  which is five words long at most. An example would be:

She ate the cake.

She (noun, subject) ate (verb) the cake (noun, object)

Or you can have a very long sentence.

Sue ate the cake and Bob drank the soda while they walked to the park.

Sue (noun, subject) ate (verb) the cake (noun, object) and (conjunction) Bob (noun, subject) drank (verb) the soda (noun, object) while (conjunction) they (noun, subject) walked (verb) to the park (noun, either subject nor object. It’s actually an object of the proposition, like I mentioned earlier. To can be an preposition.)

Why is this important? Because say I have a sentence:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, he ran across the field too.

You think it might look right but just to be on the safe side, you decide to check it.

The quick (adjective) brown (adjective) fox (noun, subject) jumped (verb) over the lazy (adjective) dog, (noun) he (noun, subject) ran (verb) across the field (noun) too.

When you analyze it like that, you find that you actually have two subjects, two verbs and no conjunction. You need to place a conjunction in the sentence, or a period, and make it two separate sentences or else you have a comma splice. (Two sentences joined with a comma.)

The other reason why you need to know these parts of speech is because once you realize that one word is an adjective, if you decide that you don’t like that particular adjective, you can replace it with any other adjective found in the dictionary.  It’s very much like the mad lib idea. But, you can’t replace one type of word for another type of word.

So now perhaps you understand not only why your teacher cared so much about nouns and verbs but how to use them while writing.