Parts of Speech Editing I
Grammar • Grammar refers to the relation of words. • The rules of grammar reflect patterns of speech and writing of the educated elite. • What makes grammar fun is knowing the rules and when to break them. • Breaking the rules through ignorance and carelessness produces chaos and a loss of respect for what has been written.
The Sentence • A complete sentence needs only a subject and a predicate. • The subject of the sentence is what is spoken about. The predicate is what is said about the subject. • “The women in feathered hats and flowered dresses were invited to tea with Queen Elizabeth II.”
The Sentence • What is the subject in the previous sentence? • What is the predicate? • What is the shortest complete sentence possible?
The Sentence • It is possible to classify sentences into one of four categories: • Declarative -- statement ending with a period. • Interrogative -- requests information. • Imperative -- expresses a command and ends with a period. • Exclamations -- express surprise.
The Sentence • Sentences are made up of clauses, phrases and words. • A clause contains a subject and a predicate. • Clauses are either dependent or independent. • An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence. • A dependent clause cannot.
The Sentence • A dependent clause refers to a word in an independent clause. • Example: … who lived in a shoe … The verb is lived and the subject is the pronoun, who. • A phrase is a cluster of words doing a single job. They lack a subject, a predicate or both. • … to New York is a phrase.
The Sentence • Dependent clauses, phrases and words can be classified as essential or non-essential. • An essential clause is required to clarify the meaning of the parent noun or pronoun. • It is introduced with a relative pronoun (that, who, or whom) and is not set off with commas.
Essential Examples • Essential clause: “Don’t use commas that aren’t necessary.” If the clause in italics were deleted, the sentence would offer bad advice. • Essential phrase: They saw the award-winning movie “The Pianist.” The phrase is needed because there is more than one award-winning movie.
Essential Examples • Essential word: “Her grandmother Ellen is a teacher.” If both grandmothers are living, the writer must distinguish between the one who is a teacher and the one who is not. • If one grandmother has died, then commas on both sides of Ellen would be needed.
Nonessential Examples • Nonessential clauses, phrases and words are set off with commas and provide additional information. Nonessential clauses are introduced by relative pronouns (which, who or whom). • Nonessential clause: “Don’t use vulgar words, which aren’t necessary.”
Nonessential Examples • Nonessential phrase: “They saw the 1998 winner of the Academy Award for best movie, ‘Titanic.’” Only one movie won the award for best picture that year. • Nonessential word: “His wife, Ellen, is a teacher.” If he has more than one wife at a time, then we have another story. • For more see the essential, nonessential entry in the AP Stylebook.
Noun Pronoun Verb Adjective Adverb Preposition Conjunction Interjection The Eight Parts of Speech
The Noun • The noun identifies people, places or things. • The simple subject of a sentence must be a noun or a pronoun. • Nouns can be proper (names), which are capitalized, and common, which are not. • Proper: Oklahoma, U.S. Army, Ohio State University, General Motors
The Noun • Beware of long noun phrases. • Short combinations, like English course or love affair, are acceptable. • Long combinations can be confusing. • Wanted -- 100-year-old bridge repairers • U.S. Air Force aircraft fuel systems equipment mechanics course
The Noun • Another challenge is in the way nouns form their possessive or plural forms. The AP Stylebook attempts to deal with most of these. See possessives, plurals and titles for help and the entries for specific nouns. • Also watch for collective nouns. • Plus, remember that a verb used as a noun is called a gerund. Ex.: Jogging is fun.
The Pronoun • It is a kind of noun that stands for another noun. The noun for which the pronoun stands is called its antecedent. • A pronoun refers to the first preceding noun with which it agrees in number, person and gender.
The Pronoun • Number means singular or plural. • Person means first (I, we), second (you), or third (he, she, it, they). • Gender means male or female. • Every pronoun should be checked for agreement with the noun to which it refers.
The Pronoun • Example: “The English teacher spoke with deliberation, as if she were testing the taste of the words.” • She matches the antecedent in number (singular), person (both are third person) and gender (both are feminine because this sentence was referring to a specific person, who happened to be a woman).
The Pronoun • Who is sick in sentence No. 1 on the examples before you? • What about in No. 2?
Personal Pronouns • Personal pronouns have three cases, subjective, objective and possessive. • The subjective case is used when the pronoun is the subject of the clause. • Subjective pronouns include I, she and they.
Personal Pronouns • Objective case is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition. • Only six words in the English language show the objective case. They are: me, him, her, them, us and whom.
Personal Pronouns • The possessive case includes my and our. • Use a possessive pronoun before a gerund. • Wrong: Do you object to me borrowing your rake? • Right: Do you object to my borrowing your rake?
Personal Pronouns • Case can affect the meaning of a story. Consider the difference in meaning below. • No one was angrier at Daryl than me. • No one was angrier at Daryl than I. • Both sentences are correct, but they have different meanings.
Personal Pronouns • The first sentence means that people were angry with both of us, but they were angrier with me. The pronoun me is the object of the preposition at (understood). • The second sentence means that no one was angrier with Daryl than I was. The pronoun I is the subject of the verb was.
Relative Pronouns • These introduce dependent clauses. They include which, that and who, whom. • The best way to learn about their application is to read the AP Stylebook entries.
Demonstrative Pronouns • They point out someone or something. Examples include this, that and these, those. • The biggest trick with demonstrative pronouns is figuring out what antecedent they are pointing to, because it is often unclear. • Some writing coaches would like to ban demonstrative pronouns.
Demonstrative Pronouns • Here’s why. Consider the following quote from an NFL quarterback after his team lost the first five games of the season. “Until you lose maybe eight games, you’re not out of the playoffs. And we haven’t put that out of the realm of possibility.” • To what does that refer?
Verb • Verbs express action or a state of being. The predicate always contains a verb. • Verbs are the essence of good writing.
Verb • Verbs have tense and mood. The six basic tenses in English are: • Simple present – I work. • Simple past – I worked. • Simple future – I will work. • Present perfect – I have worked. • Past perfect – I had worked. • Future perfect – I will have worked.
Verb • Except for simple present and simple past, verb tenses employ helper verbs (have, had, will, etc.) to make compound verbs. • Good writers avoid splitting compound verbs. • “She was ordered to immediately leave.” This is a split infinitive. • “She was ordered to leave immediately.” Better.
Staying Tense • Journalism and expository writing is normally conducted in the third person. • Avoid using words such as I, we, us and you. • Editors must watch for writers who cannot stick to one person or one tense. • Jumping from first to third person, for example, is called shifting the reader’s point of view.
Regular vs. Irregular • Regular verbs, like to work, form their past tense and past participle by adding –ed or –d to the base form. • There are, however, about 250 irregular verbs in the English language. • An odd one, which is mentioned in the stylebook, is forecast. Present tense – forecast. Past tense – forecast. Past participle – forecast.
Tricky Stuff • Here are some verbs to watch out for in copy. • To get is famously mangled. • Writers often try to make the present perfect tense using the past tense of the verb to get, which is got. • Bad Example: She has got a cold. • The writer should have used the past participle, which is gotten.
Tricky Stuff • The problem gets worse. • “You have got to be careful.” • Try to fix it. Gotten only makes it worse.
Tricky Stuff • Why? Because got only serves to recreate a redundancy, like never ever. • Fix it by rewriting. “You have got to be careful” becomes “You have to be careful.” • Or, better yet, it becomes “You must be careful.”
Verb Abuse • Advertising copy writers and marketers often abuse verbs. • “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” (Movie title) • “The martini is still drank the same way as it was 60 years ago.” (Gin advertisement) • Others?
Verb Moods • Verbs have three moods. • Indicative for statements and questions of fact (She went to work). • Imperative to issue commands (Go to work). • Subjunctive for conditions contrary to facts (If I were King, I wouldn’t have to work).
More Verbs • Verbs are either transitive or intransitive. • Transitive verbs take an object. • In the subject-verb-object style that comprises most journalism the verb is a transitive verb.
More Verbs • Most verbs can be transitive or intransitive. • Transitive: “She ran the race.” • Intransitive: “She ran.”
Toughest Verbs in English • To lay, to raise and to set are always transitive. • To lie, to rise and to sit are always intransitive. • These six verbs are among the toughest in the English language.
Toughest Verbs in English • You can’t sit something. You must set it. • You can lie down, but you must lay something down. • This gets complicated because the parts of lay and lie are similar. • The present tense of to lay is the past tense of to lie, which is lay.
Voice • Only transitive verbs can have voice, either active or passive. • In the active voice, the subject performs the action. “The dog bit the man.” • In the passive voice, the subject receives the action. “The mans was bitten by the dog.”
Voice • The mealy-mouthed love the passive voice. • “The action was taken.” (Who took the action?) • “Mistakes were made.” (Who goofed?) • Bureaucrats and lousy reporters love the passive voice. It’s the perfect mask for not knowing who did what.
Voice • Good journalists prefer the more vigorous active voice. • Weak: “It was estimated that 500 cars will be affected by the recall.” • Strong: “Ford estimated that the recall will affect 500 Expeditions.”
Copulation • (Yes, this headline was intended just to see if you were still awake.) • Copulative verbs, better known as linking verbs, equate the subject with an adjective, noun or pronoun in the predicate. • They describe a condition that continues to exist (e.g., is) or a condition of change (e.g., becomes).
Linking Verbs • The most common is to be. Others include to become, to seem, to look, to taste, to smell, to appear and to feel. • “War is hell.” • “I feel good.” • “It looks bad.”
Linking Verbs • Linking verbs either describe the subject or identify the subject. • If it describes the subject is must be followed by an adjective. (Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns.) • “She feels bad.” The object describes what she feels.
Linking Verbs • If you want to describe the verb, use and adverb. • “She feels badly.” This is right if you mean she has lost her sense of touch. • See the bad, badly and the good, well entries in the Stylebook for more.
Linking Verbs • If the linking verb identifies the subject, it must be followed by a noun or pronoun in the same case as the subject. • The distinction is important because pronouns that follow transitive verbs must be in the objective case, whereas pronouns that follow linking verbs must be in the subjective case.