This past week I posted a series of grammar lessons on facebook.
Good grammar isn’t only useful on standardized tests. Check out this quote, “One of the easiest, quickest and most widely used indicators of a candidate’s worth is his or her grammar.”
The easiest way to learn correctly spoken English is to hear it. Unfortunately, we’re not all the best examples. To help, this week I’ll be posting mini grammar lessons, starting with one that trips up my family.
“Good” is an adjective, so it describes nouns.
“Well” is an adverb, so it describes verbs.
You did well.
You did a good job.
Ask your kids to correct your grammar and they’ll have fun learning it.
I is a subject pronoun. Me is an object pronoun.
Peter and I will be there.
The gift is for Lydia and me.
There’s an easy way to test which one you should use. Just take out the other word. For instance, take out Peter. Which sounds right, I will be there or Me will be there? The gift is for me or the gift is for I? Then it’s easy to tell which is correct.
If I were a rich man…
“Were” is often the right choice in such a statement, but it’s not always correct.
Here’s a visual to help you understand the difference between “if I was” and “if I were.”
Today’s grammar point was inspired by a science teacher I heard interviewed on tv. She said, “I seen…” Hopefully that is discordant to your ears, but here are a few examples of past tense forms that sometimes get confused. They are listed as the present tense, past tense, and the past participle.
ring rang have rung
sing sang have sung
sink sank have sunk
see saw have seen
shrink shrank have shrunk
begin began have begun
So, “the pants shrunk” is wrong; “the pants shrank” is right. “The boat sunk” is wrong; “the boat sank” is right.
Here’s another article on the importance of grammar.
While I was writing my novel, I was constantly looking up grammar rules and the right way to write things. Here are a few past tense forms that tripped me up.
Sneaked is the past tense of sneak. Snuck is actually only colloquial and is never technically correct.
Lay is the past tense of lie.
Do the know the difference between lie and lay?
Lay takes a direct object. Do you know what that means?
Lie down is what you do to yourself.
Lay down is what you do to something else, the object.
You tell your kids to lie down for a nap.
You lay your baby down for a nap.
If you aren’t sure, try saying “place” instead. You don’t place down at night; you lie down. You could place your pattern on the table; you lay out your pattern on the table.
In the past, this is what it looks like.
Yesterday I lay down for a nap.
Yesterday I laid that paper right here.
I have lain down every afternoon this week.
I have laid out your work for you every day this week.
Writers aren’t the only ones who need grammar. If you have a child who wants to be a missionary, grammar is really important. Why? It’s an important part of learning a language. When I was learning Macedonia, I had to learn to insert certain prefixes depending on whether the following word was used as a direct object or an indirect object. In Russian word forms change all the time depending on how they are being used in a sentence.
How about written English…
your (possessive, your friend)
you’re (contraction, you are)
its (possessive, its color)
it’s (contraction, it is)
their (possessive, their house)
they’re (contraction, they are)
Just say the contractions as two words, and you’ll know if that’s the one you should be using.
Affect is most often used as a verb. That really affected me.
Effect is most often used as a noun. What is the effect you’re looking for?
I accept your apology.
I like them all except this one.