Grammar Instruction to Improve Writing • Why? • What? • How? Presented by Amy Benjamin Engaging Grammar: Practical Advice for Real Classrooms (NCTE, 2007)
I never learned this. I teaching grammar. Takes away from real writing instruction “I’m not sure I’m right.” “Not interesting. Not fun.” “Rigid.” “Doesn’t transfer. Doesn’t stick.” “Too negative. It’s like math.
1. Grammar is a system of making sentences out of parts. The parts have to match (agree): Number (singular or plural) Gender (masculine, feminine, neutral) Case (subjective, objective, possessive) Tense (past, present, future) 2. Writers and speakers place the parts in a certain order and that order affects the impact of the message. 3. The two main parts of language are nouns and verbs. Everything else either modifies nouns or verbs or joins words, phrases, and clauses.
What should the study of grammar accomplish? 1. Better communication between teachers and students about language 2. Understanding the rhetorical effects of grammatical choices: What can a sentence do? How can I be in control of my sentences?
The Basics I Group of words, either noun + modifiers or verb + modifiers; not both Phrase Noun + verb (plus their modifiers) Clause Sentence Clause that can stand alone
The Basics II I can fit it into the frame “The _______ truck(s).” It will answer any of these questions: Which one? What kind? How many? Adjective: I can put “the” in front of it (and it makes sense) It will answer this question: What? Noun: • Noun Phrase: A noun + its modifiers • the big bad wolf • the big bad wolf with the green hat • the big bad wolf with the green hat that we • saw jaywalking across 52nd Street
The Basics III It will answer any of these questions: Where? When? Why? In what manner? To what extent? Adverb: I can put “he” in front of it. or I can put “must” in front of it. The word that changes when I say “yesterday” or “right now” is the verb. Verb: Verb Phrase: A verb + its auxiliaries see have seen will be seeing, should have seen, etc.
Declarative Does the group of words tell you Who or what? and What about it? Interrogative Can you put It is true that…. in front of it? Exclamatory Imperative Complete Sentence Can you turn it into a yes/no question? Can you add a “Stick-on” question?
The bicycle as a metaphor for what makes a complete sentence: Predicate Wheel tells: What about it? Subject Wheel tells: Who or what? From An Easy Guide to Writing by Pamela Dykstra (McGraw Hill) You can find the complete PPT for this metaphor at: http://www.ateg.org/grammar/tips/bike.ppt
Prepositional Phrases How can we teach them? Why should we teach them?
Why learn to identify prepositional phrases? Vary sentence structure Develop time and place dimension Punctuate introductory elements Eliminate redundancy Achieve subject-verb agreement Create parallel structure
the lovely princess the frog the lazy frog the princess the lovely princess of Romania the laziest frog in the bayou a charming, handsome prince a handsome prince. a charming, handsome prince who had no outstanding debts. kissed When , he turned into
pink pink Noun phrase expansion standing over the fish bowl the IT in the kitchen adventurous adventurous
Use of Modifiers • Why should we teach modifiers? • How should we teach modifiers?
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB to know the truth. seemed Her mother
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB to know the truth.. Her mother seemed ,although Hatsue didn’t know it, Subordinate Clause
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB to know the truth.. Her mother seemed ,dark with rage, Adjective + Prepositional Phrase
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB to know the truth.. Her mother seemed ,shrinking with age, Adjective (Participle) + Prepositional Phrase
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB to know the truth.. Her mother seemed ,a traditional and stoic woman, Appositive (additional noun information)
EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY SUBJECT COMPLEMENT SUBJECT VERB had <largely> been about sex. Their marriage ,she understood after Carl was gone,
Verbs • Why should we teach them? • How should we teach them?
Why Teach Verbs? Strong verbs energize writing. Writers must decide on a consistent verb tense. 3. Writers must decide whether to use active or passive voice. 4. Errors in verb usage are highly stigmatized: Incorrect form of irregular verbs (*I seen, *brung, *have went, *have sang, etc.) 5. Whether we have an action verb or a BE verb determines pronoun case use and adjective/adverb use.
Base form: walk, sing Progressive form: walking, singing Past form: walked, sang Participial form: (have) walked, (have sung) Verb Land, USA TO BE: I am,was We are,were You are ;were He, she, it isThey are,were Active Voice: I stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Passive Voice: The cookie was stolen from the cookie jar by me. (BE + Participial form= passive voice) Sense Verbs: feel, look, sound smell, taste Also: seem, become, appear grow Verbals: 1. Participle: (acts as adjective) the dancing bear; the stolen cookie 2. Infinitive: (acts as noun, adj. or adv.) Let us never fear to negotiate. The law to reduce noise has passed. We went to London to see the queen. 3. Gerund: (Acts as noun) Teaching makes me happy. ACTION TOWN BE TOWN ACTION verbs are modified by adverbs:She sings happily. ACTION verbs take objective case pronouns as objects: We saw him steal the cookie from the cookie jar. BE verbs are completed by adjectives: He is happy. BE verbs take subjective case pronouns as complements: It was I who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Auxiliaries: Have: creates the perfect tenses (has sung, etc.) Be: creates the progressive tenses (am singing, etc.) Modal Auxiliaries: Would Will Should Shall Could May Can Might Must Auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries combine with action verbs to create various tenses.