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Archive for the category “ESOL”

#AtoZ, 2014: Y is for Yadda, Yadda, Yadda and Yakety Yak.

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

And the beat goes on… Y day in the #AtoZ. Yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s all been said before.

Yadda, yadda, yadda as a term doesn’t make it into print resources like the American Heritage Dictionary or Garner’s Modern American Usage, but you can find it on the Internet in the Urban Dictionary  and English Daily:

A phrase that means “and so forth” or “on and on;” it usually refers to something that is a minor detail or boring and repetitive. English Daily

When telling about a happening in your life, you might not want to give all the details because that would make your story too long and too boring. Instead, substitute “yadda, yadda, yadda” for the boring and repetitive parts and get to the most important, more interesting parts.

Although the phrase yadda, yadda, yadda was coined by Lenny Bruce in the 1960, Seinfeld later made this phrase popular in this clip: Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Synonyms for yadda, yadda, yadda:

yakety yak  The Coasters sang this popular song, Yakety Yak, when I was in high school college a while ago.

et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  Yul Brynner, in the popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, tells Deborah Kerr this:

When I sit, you sit.
When I kneel, you kneel.
Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

The Last Meow

yadda cat 2 cheezburger.c omyadda cat  Cheezburgr

***
Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

Meow for now.  =<^!^>=

Here’s another Y post for you (2013)   Y is for…Your, You’re, Y’all, Ya’ll, Yall, You All, You Guys, and Yakety-Yak

 

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Don’t Use Adverbs? Book Reviewers Use Them!

Adverbs have been thoroughly trashed in the writer’s world. Read more about that here: Who Murdered Those Poor, Pitiful Adverbs?

Even so, adverbs remain a handy tool in the writer’s toolbox. Adverbs modify (add meaning) to verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. “At their best, adverbs spice up a verb or an adjective. At their worst, they express a meaning already contained in [the verb].” Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Look carefully, and you will find those ostracized adverbs being featured prominently in book review blurbs. Check these out:

“Wickedly funny, deviously twisted and enormously satisfying. This is a big juicy bite of zombie goodness. Two decaying thumbs up!”
Jonathan Maberry on Kevin J. Anderson’s, Death Warmed Over: Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.001 (22)

“Rather than rest on her laurels, Grafton does the exact opposite, and U is for Undertow is her most structurally complex, psychologically potent book to date.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review included on flyleaf of Sue Grafton’s, V is for Vengeance

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“A slice of American history beautifully told by three young Americans coming of age in a turbulent time.”
Jodi Thomas, New York Times best-selling author on Jan Morrill’s, The Red Kimono

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“Move over, grumpy schoolmarms everywhere. Your time has come. For the writer or wannabe, Sin and Syntax is urgently needed, updated, and hip guide to modern language and writing.”
Jon Katz, media critic and author of Running to the Mountain, on Constance Hale’s, Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose.

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“It’s a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon . . . so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving.”
Baltimore Sun on Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: A Novel

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And finally, there’s this:

Adverbs by Daniel Handler

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No, this book is not about adverbs; it’s actually an unusual love story, and let’s even say, a very unusual love story. Every chapter boasts it own adverb title: Immediately, Obviously, Arguably, Particularly, Briefly, Soundly, Frigidly, Collectively, and so on for nine more adverb-laden chapter titles. Here’s one review blurb:

“Gymnastic prose . . . brilliantly turned reminders that there are a million ways to describe love and none of them will be the last word.”
New York Times
Book Review

The Last Meow: A Cat-A-Log of Advice for Writers

So book reviewers use a lot of adverbs. Okay. Just don’t copy their style for lengthier pieces of writing. Follow the sound advice given by professional writers:

1. Use strong nouns and verbs in your writing. Don’t rely on weak adverbs to rev up common everyday verbs.

…the hackneyed result [of using weak verbs and weak adverbs] is immediately apparent.
Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

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2. Use distinctive, fresh, surprising adverbs, and your writing will shine. Here are a few examples from The New Yorker:

001 (28)maddeningly inaccessible… (Tribeca Cinemas in NYC)
Silvia Killingsworth, “Takes for Two,” The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

..the large color pictures are…gritty, intimate, and bracingly authentic (Polaroids by Mike Brodie)
Chelsea Gallery, The New Yorker, April 1, 2003

…an outlandishly sensual red-vinyl church interior by Rodney McMillian
ART, Museums and Libraries, Whitney Museum of American Art, The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

mercilessly critical…
Marc Fisher, “The Master,” The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

Perhaps book reviews use too many adverbs, but adverbs can be a writer’s friend if used wisely, surprisingly, and judiciously.

And now it’s nap time. All this teaching tires me out.

Meow for Now. =<^;^>=

Pic by Haryo Bagus Handako

Pic by Haryo Bagus Handako

Continuously or Continually? The Cats Have the Answer

Do you ever mix up these two words: continuously and continually? People do, but cats don’t.

Look at the chart below for some clues to distinguish between these often confused words.

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What kinds of things happen continuously?  (no pauses, no breaks, no interruptions)

  • My family lived in the old farmhouse on Brewster Road continuously from 1936 to 2004.
The Kroelinger house on North Brewster Road, Vineland, NJ

The Kroelinger house on North Brewster Road, Vineland, NJ

  • Water flows over Niagara Falls continuously.  Six thousand years ago, ice sheets that had continuously covered the Great Lakes basin for thousands of years retreated and gouged out the Great Lakes, the Niagara River, and Niagara Falls.
  • Water flowed continuously over the American Falls and the Canadian Falls at Niagara for thousands of years. Even when a thick ice bridge formed at the falls, water flowed continuously under the ice. (Water flow was once interrupted on the American side so engineers could determine whether they could remove the rock pile at the bottom of the falls. Even so, water flowed continuously over the Canadian Falls.)

    Photo credit: vroomvroom.com

    Photo credit: vroomvroom.com

  • The Lenape Indians lived in Mays Landing, NJ continuously long before the Europeans arrived and displaced them.
Lenape Indian Wigwam Photo credit:  JimSalichedublog.com

Lenape Indian Wigwam Photo credit: JimSalichedublog.com

  • It rained continuously for forty days and forty nights in biblical times. But Noah, after receiving a vision from God, had built and ark and saved his family and hordes of animals from sure destruction.

    Illustration finkorswim.com

    Illustration finkorswim.com

  • The nurses gave the dehydrated runner intravenous fluids continuously for two days.
  • My air conditioner runs continuously on 90 degree days.
  • It rains continuously during the rainy season in India.
  • The people formed one continuous line down the block as they waited to enter the concert arena.line cjonline
  • You must be continuously employed at our company to receive benefits.
  • Video surveillance in our downtown parking garage goes on continuously 24/7.

What kinds of things happen continually? (happen over and over again; intermittent; repeated frequently)

  • Cats sleep continually (something interesting is always going on so their constant napping is frequently interrupted: a mouse to chase, a kibbie to eat, the dog to train, the owner to annoy, a dust bunny to bat, a leaf of grass to chew, whatever. . . . ) A cat’s life is one of continual nap time interruptions.

And My Cat  Where do cats sleep

  • Continual hurricanes create havoc (floods, wind damage, deaths) where they hit land masses.
Ptotp credit: tccnj.org.

Photo credit: tccnj.org.

  • Continual telephone calls interrupt my work flow and prevent me from completing my assignments.
  • The graph showed continual improvement with its zigzag lines that trended up.
  • We expect continual improvement in your son’s grades because he is now doing his homework.

    Graph credit: freedigital.com

    Graph credit: freedigital.com

  • Chipmunks continually climb the bird feeder pole and steal the bird seed. They jump down and run with bloated cheek pouches to drop the seed at their hiding places, then come back for more.

    inhabit.com

    Photo credit: inhabit.com

  • Police officers continually catch violators at the traffic lights at Main Street and Market Street.
  • Some people argue continually over minor things.argument
  • All teachers continually seek to improve their teaching skill.

The Last Meowcat-in-food-bowl

Okay, now that we have continuously and continually all straightened out, can we kitties please have some uninterrupted peace and quiet so we can nap? Just have our kibbies ready when we wake up.

Thanks.

Oh, by the way, here are some kitties who continually play patty-cake.

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Who Murdered Those Poor, Pitiful Adverbs?

Woohoo. There’s quite a bit of mud-slinging going on over yonder about adverbs, of all things.

crime scene-blog

What with being called all kinds of dubious, diminishing, and insulting names on Internet, like “ad-thingies,” “the red-headed stepchild of modern grammarians,” and “weasel words,” it’s a wonder adverbs don’t have an inferiority complex. Oh, wait, in fact they do exhibit previously undiagnosed, partly paranoid tendencies, probably because their feelings get hurt so frequently.

Not only do Internet writers negatively brand these mild-mannered modifiers with negative descriptors, but notorious well-known writers label them with such loaded nomenclature as “flabby words” (Hale)  “stinkers” (Casagrande), and a “ragbag of hedges” (Kilgarriff). They have been called monsters and beasties, too.

Others fling disparaging remarks like flaming firecrackers tossed by taunting teenagers. Not only are adverbs “useless,” but they are “truly useless,” and “redundant.” Gordon calls them “yawningly predictable,” and Zinsser calls them “unnecessary.”

Adverbs are “crashers in the syntax house party” and “trash words” (Hale), “the dustbin” of English grammatical categories (Crystal), “the old worn-out clasp which holds words together” (Folejewski, quoted in Nordquist), “the poor stepchild” and the “Rodney Dangerfield of the parts of speech” (Nordquist).

Adverbs have even been called promiscuous because they have multiple partners: verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, and whole sentences. (Hale).

Mark Twain hated them and called them a plague. Stephen King hated them and jumped feet-first into the fracas ranting that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Adverbs, he says, are like dandelions that totally, completely, and profligately cover his lawn.

(These guys are a bit melodramatic, don’t you think? Besides that, these frequently repeated quotes are becoming trite and clichéd. Enough already.)

And it doesn’t stop there either. People who innocently use adverbs reap heaps of disparaging labels: “linguistic dwarfs” use adverbs because they can’t quite connect with stronger verbs (Kilgarriff); “weak minds” use adverbs because they are lazy; (Outbreak movie); “timid,” “cautious,” and “fearful” writers use adverbs because, well, they are timid, cautious, and fearful (King).

Indeed, some published “immature” writers have been castigated for using weak verbs and redundant adverbs in their money-gushing published novels. Of course, these writers have no worries about such criticism; they are busy counting the mega moolah that arrives by railroad cars at their multi-million dollar mansions. They sip their martinis shaken, not stirred, on the veranda by the pool, thumbing their noses at those snobby don’t-use-adverbs critics.

I mean, if you were J. K. Rowling, wouldn’t you have the pompous and malicious Dunsley family (the miserly stepparents in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) describe themselves as “perfectly normal.” Fits, doesn’t it. Come on, where’s your spirit of fun?

Grammar snobs point fingers at grammar slobs. From their lofty position on their judgment thrones, they pick out the puny prattlings of printless peons beneath them. Sometimes the grammar snobs point fingers at each other, ranting on opposite points of view on the same topic.

Criticizing adverb use is akin to criticizing Strunk & White; it’s the popular thing to do. Both are juicy targets, ripe for criticism. S & W give simplistic advice (avoid the use of qualifiers…), and adverbs can be simple and trite.

Whoa now…. Let’s just stop and take a breath. With all this maelstrom of adverb criticism, do writers even dare to use them?

True. Writers do misuse adverbs, especially the –ly brand and those linked to “said”, but is that any reason to banish all adverbs to Stephen King’s fiery furnace? Why all the melodramatic fire and brimstone? Why all this bullying of adverbs?

Adverbs can be badly, awkwardly, redundantly, and even outrageously used by writers, but possibly, just possibly, could adverbs have any good qualities?  Must they always be demoted to being the poor, pitiful underdogs in the linguistic world?

Critics focus on the minor crimes of adverb abusers and ignore the benefits that well-behaved adverbs freely and willingly offer to the world. Adverbs have a proper place in writing; in fact, we can’t do without them.

Why should writers care about adverbs?

Adverbs affect writing style, yes, for better or for worse and happily ever after. Selective use of adverbs creates well-crafted writing while indiscriminate use creates tedious, clichéd writing. Adverbs can bring subtle distinctions as well as major, dramatic distinctions. And besides that, clever use of adverbs makes me chuckle.

You have heard the quote “familiarity breeds contempt”; well, that’s what’s happened to adverbs. These words have become the plain-vanilla-ice-cream-cone-every-day-after-school treat. Repetitious. Monotonous. Boring. And yes, Ms. Gordon, yawningly predictable.

But make that an apple-blueberry-peach, honey nut Cheerios ice cream sundae with Heathbar–crunch-topping adverb, and you 001 (18)have a different story.

“Adverbs add character, sizzle, and fizz to your phrase or your sentence, whatever it is!” Brian P. Cleary, Clearly, Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb?

Brian Cleary may write children’s books, but he’s right about adverbs.

What is an adverb anyway?

Adverbs are a category of words (a part of speech) that can change (qualify, limit, describe, modify, intensify, minimize) the meaning of verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, phrases, and clauses.

I know. You learned that in third grade. But think about this: Anything that has the power to change something else has….power. Take hold of that power and use it wisely.

Take a gander at the following Zombie treats dissected from Kevin J. Anderson’s, Death Warmed Over, and slobber over the adverbs he uses.

1. Adverbs modify verbs

Most humans are morbidly fascinated by the dark side of the city.

Streetlights flickered ominously in an electric rhythm sure to trigger epileptic seizures…

2. Adverbs modify other adverbs

“Amazing what morticians can do these days, but I’m still only fit for the scratch-and-dent sale.” I tapped my brow, feeling the putty that Bruno had so skillfully applied.

3. Adverbs modify adjectives

The mummy spoke in a crisp Bristish accent, “So sorry I’m late. My sundial is notoriously unreliable on cloudy days.”

We assert that all spells published by Howard Phillips are completely harmless. Although Ms. Wannovich’s situation is unquestionably tragic, our good company bears no blame for the aforementioned misfortune.

4. Adverbs modify clauses

I had been inside the factory before—illicitly—while investigating the garlic-laced shampoo lawsuit.

To tell the truth, I never liked Zombie stories before I read Anderson’s Death Warmed Over. It is the perfect type of writing for tongue-in-cheek use of adverbs.

As Mark Twain once famously said about himself, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,”  reports of the death of adverbs are also greatly exaggerated.

Use adverbs, but use them wisely. Crime scene closed.

References:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/24/elmore-leonard-rules-for-writers/print
http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/new-years-resolution-no-adverbs (Kilgarriff)http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/03/13/stephen-king-on-adverbs/
http://grammar.about.com/od/basicsentencegrammar/a/adverbquotes.htm (Nordquist)http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/why-pick-on-adverbs (Rundell)http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/02/20/being-an-adverb/ (Pullum)

Casagrande, June. Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun & Spite.
Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.
Gordon, Karen Elizabeth. The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed.
Hale, Constance. Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose.
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Sixth Edition.

The Last Meow

I clearly, dearly, and sincerely approve this post. Now may I go back to my nap?cat sleeping - academic

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Hello, Dear Readers. Who Are You?

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Challenge Prompt 27

Write a Letter to Your Readers

Dear Readers,

Almost every writing expert tells us writers that we should know our audience when we write.

But because of Internet and its vast network, our writing reaches farther than we could have ever imagined, so that basic writing suggestion simply doesn’t work.

We bloggers write not knowing who our readers are. We know we have readers because WordPress counts them and gives us fascinating statistical reports.

My favorite report shows a colored map and tells me how many readers/views I have, and from which countries they have viewed my blog.

Wordpress stats

I am not surprised that I have views* in the English speaking countries:  United States (7,198 views), Canada (761), United Kingdom (650), and Australia (390). All four together represent my largest audience. But it is amazing to me that I have had readers in Egypt (38), Saudi Arabia (8), Qatar (8), Brunei Darussalem (3), Occupied Palestine (1),  Azerbaijan (1) Latvia (1), and so many more. (*WordPress counts each view of a post separately. If one reader reads three posts, then views= 3).

Why are you reading my blog? Are you learning English? Are you an expat? Are you an old friend?

I can look at sections of the map and think about specific people who might be reading my blog: Is that you, blogger friend Ellen V. Gregory in Australia, reading my post? In Alaska, maybe its Jim, Linda, Joan, Tina, Sherry, or other people I knew when I lived there. Maybe it’s Gary or Mary Jane in Korea; or Kent, Mary, Tammy, Jenny, Leslie in Hong Kong, my friends from Hong Kong International School. In Germany, it might be my nephew, Bill. In India, it might be my friend, Abraham, or one of his family or church members. Maybe it’s my blogger friend Julie Ferrar in France. I don’t know. It boggles my mind.

Equally interesting are the white spaces on the map: Greenland;  Paraguay, Suriname, and French Guiana, three countries in South America; all the Middle Eastern Countries; many countries in Africa; and Papua New Guinea in the Far East. It makes me wonder. Is Internet available in these areas? Is Internet available but restricted? What interest would they have in my blog anyway?

So dear readers, I am curious about you. My world geography is getting better because of your interest in my blog. Seeing your country colored in on the map reminds of visits that I have made to many of your countries, and I have many more countries on my bucket list for visits, enough to last a lifetime.

But regardless of who you are or where you live, I do appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. I know you have many blogs to choose from (does that sound like the arrival speech from the flight attendants on your favorite airline?), and I appreciate your interest. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing! To you, my heartiest thanks for visiting.

And if you have a minute, let me know who you are and the name of your country. I look forward to getting to know you better.

The Last Meow.

What about us kitties?  Look at our map. We have fans all over the world. How about that!

INternational cat day map.

Meow for now. =(^;^)=

Usage You Can See: Everyday or Every Day?

every day posterShudder. I woke up this morning thinking, “Oh my gosh. I have been misusing “every day” every day on my blog this week!”   Yikes.  (I didn’t misuse it. My brain was overreacting!)

It’s true. Don’t laugh. I did wake up thinking about these words.

But then as my early morning brain muddle started to clear, my more rational self came alive, and “blog topic!” “blog topic!” “blog topic!” flashed before my eyes.  (Now I know you’re really laughing at this poor, sick grammar and usage geek.)

I reviewed the possibility with my barely-awake husband (aka sounding board and editor). He said, “Yes, dear. Whatever.”

Laugh all you want, but I have a topic for today! So there.

Everyday and every day.

Yes, everyday and every day are different, and unfortunately, often confused.  If you know your parts of speech, you can easily straighten out these two often confused words. But you need examples so you can see the difference.

1. Everyday = one word = adjective.         

  • Meaning of everyday: common, ordinary, usual, suitable for ordinary days
  • Placement in sentence:  Adjectives come before the noun they modify.
  • Check: does a noun follow everyday?    If so, use the single word everyday. Everyday stays next to the noun.

001

2. Every day = two words

  • Every (adjective) +  day (noun) = adverbial phrase telling when
  • Meaning: each day, daily, every single day; something occurs on a daily basis.
  • Placement in sentence: Moves around. Can be in beginning, middle, or ending.
  • Check 1: substitute “each day” for every day.  This happens each day.
  • Check 2: insert single between every and day. Does it make sense?  This happens every single day.
  • Check 3: Can you move every day to different places in the sentence? If so, use two words.

This happens every day.
Every day this happens.

Marietta goes to school every day.
Every day Marietta goes to school.

Every day you make the same complaint.
You make the same complaint every day.
Every day you make the same everyday complaints.

The custodian does the same tasks every day.
Every day the custodian does the same tasks.
Every day, the custodian does the same everyday tasks.

Real Life Quotes written correctly on Twitter using every day.

Don’t count every day of the week; make every day of the week count. @Wiseman
I don’t know what the “breakthrough” point will be, but I know that every day I hammer away, I’m one day closer. @Curtmega
Every day is a new beginning, so treat it that way.   @OMGFunniest
Waking up every day is a blessing, not a privilege. @idillionaire
Every day, do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. Doug Firebaugh
We thank nurses for the work they do every day to support us and keep us happy.
Every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day. #Thank a teacher.
Love. Enjoy your work. Pray every day. Have fun. Don’t complicate life. @Paul Coelho
Reinventing yourself after cancer would mean finding little ways every day to live with mindful awareness. @DanMezick

Grammar and Usage and Twitter

I happened to check Twitter about the time the above poster quote using everyday/every day was tweeted and retweeted. Some tweeters got it right; but others got it wrong by dropping the space between every and day (see the poster). Some retweeters did not notice this omission. That’s how bad grammar and usage get perpetuated!  (Poster credit: PicNQuotes)

And for those of you who must say “Justin Bieber” every day, use two words: every day, as in “every single day.”

        Twitter tweet today:
“Justin Bieber Fan 
I say ”Justin” or ”Justin Bieber” everyday! RT if you do to ♡”

Read

The Last Meow   

This everyday food is just too boring. It’s putting me to sleeeee…     Photo: catlovingcare.com

images[3]

Please, everyone, use your White House manners, not your everyday manners.  Photo: 2pawsupinc

eat at dinner table 2pawsupinc.

Yum. Yum. I could eat this delicious cantaloupe every day.  (Photo credit: Emmie Mears)

cat and cataloupe Emmie Mears 4-18-13

Meow for now. ={^;^}=

R is for. . . Reflexive Pronouns Cause A Ruckus

a-to-z-letters-2013A to Z 2013R-Day in the A to Z Challenge. The month is winding down, and the remaining letters are thinning out. Let’s see. Eight more letters after this, but who’s counting?

Reflexive Pronouns Cause A Ruckus

Grammar Girl, a popular grammar and writing blog found on the Internet, says that she receives a lot of questions related to proper and improper use of reflexive pronouns.

People seem to have strong opinions on this topic. One group sees or hears mistakes in using reflexive pronouns, and they get bent out of shape. Another group doesn’t even notice the mistakes. And some think the improperly used reflexive pronouns are used correctly and look down on those who don’t use them the same way. What’s the truth? Who is right?

One theory is that people get confused on when to use I or me in sentences, so they use the reflexive pronoun myself instead.  Another theory is that using a reflexive pronoun like myself sounds smarter, so people use it more frequently. And some people think the right reflexive pronoun is wrong, so they change it to the wrong one. They hypercorrect.

Form of Reflexive Pronouns:
Add    ––self to singular pronouns:    myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
Add    —-selves to plural personal pronoun:    ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Do not add  —self to his or our    hisself       ourself
Do not add  —selves to their         theirselves

Function of Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence.
Note: Subject and object are the same person or persons.        Subject  =  Object
The reflexive pronoun comes after a verb or preposition and completes the meaning of a sentence.
Drop the reflexive pronoun, and the sentence is incomplete in meaning.

Here’s how reflexive pronouns look in short, Subject-Verb-Object (S-V-O) sentences.
Read sentences across chart. Notice how the reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject pronoun.

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Look at the reflexive pronouns in the well-known fairy tale, Cinderella and The Handsome Prince Reflexive Pronoun.

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Errors on Compound Subjects
Now that you see the correct way to use reflexive pronouns, we’ll look at some improper reflexive pronoun use. Many common reflexive pronoun errors occur with compound subjects.

Note: Never use a reflexive pronouns as a subject or part of a compound subject.
Note: Name yourself last in compound subjects and objects. That’s good manners.

001 (6)

To check on accuracy of compound subjects, read the subject as a single subject first.

Myself went out for dinner.
I went out for dinner.

Can you see how this helps you pick out the right pronoun to use?

Wrong:

Myself      went out for dinner.
Ourselves   went out for ice cream.
Himself    will announce the prize winners.

Errors on Compound Objects

Use the same strategy to check on compound objects. Read the two objects one at a time as a single object. Your ear will tell which one is correct.

001 (7)

Don’t be afraid to use I and me in sentences. Just use I as the subject pronoun, and me as the object pronoun.

Your Turn:
Can you find the reflexive pronouns in these sentences?

1. The winning athlete patted himself on the back.
2. I taught myself to play mah-jongg.
3. Our visitors kept to themselves during the party.
4. The Boy Scouts congratulated themselves on their championship award.
5. The Boy Scout Troop congratulated itself on its victory.
6. Jeremy reminded himself to do his homework before watching TV.
7. I promised myself that one day I would go on a Caribbean cruise.

So what. Who cares?
Incorrect use of reflexive pronouns seems to irritate those people who know how to use them correctly. Why not join those who know the difference.

Just one other thing. Grammar and usage change over time, so we need to check back on this particular issue in a few years.  Who knows, it may become more acceptable to use myself in subject and object positions in a sentence since so many people do use it that way now. I hope not, but that’s how our language changes.

The Last Meow

princess catHey, I’m already asleep.Grumpy cat says no

I’m dreaming about Cinderella at the ball.

Maybe a handsome prince will come and carry me off.

What did Grumpy Cat say?

Aww, c’mon, Grumpy Cat, give a sweet princess a break.

Meow for now.  ={^.^}=

Q is for Quirky Dreams, Susie Q, and Prepositional Phrases

a-to-z-letters-2013Today is Q-Day in the A to Z Challenge.

I had a quirky dream about prepositional phrases last night. No kidding.

I think it’s because I had intended to write about these preppie guys yesterday on P-Day. Unfortunately, my snarky button jammed, and I couldn’t think up anything clever to write about them. I bet you’d have trouble writing something clever about prepositional phrases, too. Admit it.

At any rate, Susie Q, my secret mentor, urged me to go back a day in time and reconsider those pesky prepositions and their phrases. At first I resisted, but as sleep further eluded me,  a song I learned in third or fourth grade sixty alotta years go popped into my head:Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go.” (See the three prepositional phrases in a row?)

That’s when I knew I had to get up and write my post.

Okay. So here it is. Snarky or not.

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
Prepositions are words that connect or form relationships with nouns, noun phrases, pronouns, and sometimes verbs in sentences.  They fall in pre-position to, or before, nouns, noun phrases, and pronouns (Kolln, 1994). Eight prepositions (of, to, in, for, with, on, at, by) are among the twenty most frequently used words in English. Here are a bunch more prepositions:

001

Prepositions have been called a lot of names: the Big Daddy of Phrases (Rozakis, 2003), tasty morsels for the grammar gourmet (Michael Strumpf, 2004), and mushy abstractions and great circumlocutions (Hale, 1999), to name a few.  June Casagrande (2010) calls them “devious” because they sometimes get plunked in the wrong place in the sentence causing humorous gaffes.

Constance Hale, in Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Effective Prose (1999), had this to say about prepositions:

In the hands of Charles Dodgson, Sr., [Lewis Carrol] [didn’t we just talk about him just a couple of days ago?]  create mischief, what with cows rushing up chimneys and mayors in soup plates and men in teapots and donkeys in thimbles. Most writers, though, are content to use prepositions to ground their material, to tie noun and pronouns logically to other parts of speech. In this regard, prepositions are indispensable.

Form
Prepositions are groupies, not loners. They love company and crowds. In fact, they need company in order to function; otherwise they sit in the corner hanging their heads. Look around for some nouns, and you will find prepositions near by, hanging on for dear life. Rarely will you see a preposition hanging out by itself. (Well maybe on restroom doors!) That’s just no fun. Boring!

And worse than being groupies, prepositions are grabbers. They latch onto nouns and pronouns to justify their existence. Their job is to tell location, direction, time, and relationships in sentences. Here you can see how they grab nouns to help them. (We’ll talk about pronouns and prepositions another day.)

001 (2)

  • Prepositions form phrases.
  • Prepositional phrases begin with prepositions.
  • The preposition in the phrase grabs an object: a noun or pronoun.
  • Prepositions can be simple (one word: of, to, behind) or compound (two or more words: in back of, in addition to).
  • Sentences may have one or more prepositional phrases.

Red Alert: Don’t be tricked: the noun that the preposition grabs is NOT the subject of the sentence! You can hear those preppies chortle when they catch you in that mistake.

Prepositions have another famous trick; they cozy up to verbs, you know, maybe to make the nouns and pronouns jealous. They like to “show off,” “object to,” “interfere with,” and “be shocked at” whatever is going on.

Let them have their fun. After all, if you were a preposition, wouldn’t you feel entitled to a little action now and then? Beats just sitting around with those boring do-nothing pronouns, doesn’t it?

Function of Prepositions
1.
 Prepositions are noun-stickers (Goode, 2002).  Look at how these prepositions stick phrases into this song.

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through white and drifted snow-oh.

Read these lyrics without prepositional phrases, and the song just doesn’t sound right or make sense.

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through white and drifted snow-oh.

2. Prepositional phrases answer questions. Which one? When? Where? Which direction?
The answers to these questions enrich writing by adding specific details and depth to sentences and stories. They describe the setting and action and help readers form pictures in their minds.

3 Prepositions act like adjectives and adverbs. They are great pretenders. They are chameleons and change their colors depending on whether they want to act like adjectives or whether they want to be adverbs. Because people use prepositional phrases in speech all the time, they are hardly aware that they are using adjectival prepositional phrases or adverbial prepositional phrases. Maybe you don’t need to know whether the phrases are acting like adjectives or adverbs, but you do need to recognize these prepositional phrases in writing because they cause some common writing errors.

So what. Who cares?
Writers have a love-hate relationship with prepositional phrases. They love prepositions because they enrich writing and woo the reader, but prepositional phrases can cause problems. They might

  1. leave a sing-song lilt to the writing (example:  “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go”);
  2. lead you down the garden path to passive voice;
  3. lead  to subject-verb agreement errors (remember that Red Alert above?);
  4. lead to wordiness, either with extra words or with extra phrases;
  5. cause ambiguity when the prepositional phrases land in the wrong spot in the sentence; and
  6. cause ambiguity when subtle differences between words change intended meanings.

I will write about these problems individually in future posts.

Finally, I will not write about that myth that lies about prepositions not ending sentences. It’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition if otherwise the sentence would sound odd. But so many grammarian reformers, satirists, and critics have already written about that, that I won’t expound on it any further. That okay with you? Besides, Roy Peter Clark (2006) will call you a crotchety critic and one other rather disparaging epithet (that I won’t print here) if you bring up that subject again. Enough said.

And do you think I could type this whole post without misspelling preposition each time? Nah. Each time I typed preposition I got that cute red squiggly underlining to nag me to fix the spelling. Okay, I did.

References:
Casagrande, June. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2010.
Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. New York: Little, Brown, 2006.
Goode, C. Edward. A Grammar Book for You and I (Oops Me!). Sterling, VA: Capital, 2002.
Hale, Constance. Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose. New York: Broadway, 1999.
Kolln, Martha. Understanding English Grammar, 4th ed. New York: MacMillan, 1994.
Rozakis, Laurie. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grammar and Style. New York: Alpha, 2003.
Strumpf, Michael and Douglas, Auriel. The Grammar Bible. New York: Holt,2004.

A to Z Blogging Challenge Post Q. Find a list of all my 2013 A to Z Challenge posts here.

The Last Meowcat on cactus Curt

All this yammering about prepositions is boring and definitely not spine-tingling excitement. I’d rather sleep on a cactus than pay attention to this stuff.  Better yet, maybe a nice nap on a sunny windowsill. Hmmmm. Yes. That sounds about right.

=(^;^)= Meow for now. 

And My Cat  Where do cats sleep

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