JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “#grammar”

S is for Stats and Milestones–10,000 Views Milestone! WooHoo

a-to-z-letters-201310,000 views of my blog? Really? How did that happen?

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the stats that WordPress keeps for each blog, not realizing how broad the reach of a blog can be. So in early April, when out of curiosity I clicked on my blog stats, I was surprised shocked to see that my blog had well over 9000 views.

Getting StartedThey laughed

I laughed when several years ago my daughter said, “You ought to start a blog.”

Why on earth would I do that? I laughed.

But once the seed fell out onto the ground, it began to take root and grow, not right away, but over time.

One of my first blog posts was, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at The Piano.” You know, sort of like, “They laughed when I sat down to blog.”

wana imageWANA: We Are Not Alone

I have been blogging for a while now. I muddled around started with a BlogSpot.com blog,  titled GED Writer, in September of 2010, writing about the GED (high school equivalency testing for dropouts) and adult education topics. I realized this was not a hot topic for a blog and decided to think the matter over a bit more.

I tried again with WordPress in December of 2011, finally getting a blog going in January of 2012. I met Kristen Lamb online and began to follow her posts at Writing Warriors. I read her book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and I joined her WANA112 group: 100 writers who wanted to get better at blogging.  Kristen advised us to use our own names as our blog titles because we needed to build name recognition as serious bloggers. She also advised us to branch out and write about multiple interests rather than just write about our primary, more narrow, writing interests.  All of this was great and encouraging advice.

In the process of building my blog, I made lots of new writer friends. Of those 100 original writers in WANA112, 88 of us still keep in touch on Facebook on our closed group page.

And more amazing than that was that I gathered followers, kind readers who left encouraging notes.  I learned a lot from reading their posts, too. Such clever people, I thought. I will always appreciate these early followers. These are the best friends I have never met:

Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Elaine Smothers, Wonder in the Wild
emaginette, Shout With Emaginette
Glenda Mills, Meet Me On The Mountain
Barbara Forte Abate, Scribbling Outside The Lines
Judythe Morgan, Voice and Views from The Front Porch
Mike Schulenberg, Realms of Perilous Wonder
Sheila Pierson, Wonderstruck
Ellen V. Gregory, to beyond and back
Jodi Lea Stewart   Walking on Sunshine
Liv Rancourt, Laughter, life and romance under partly sunny skies
Elizabeth Fais, Where the awesome begins
Sara Walpert Foster, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Siri Paulson, everyday enchantments
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Sherry Isaac, Psychological Sizzle
Sherri Martin-Hutchins, live wonderstruck
And none of us could get anywhere without advice from Laird Sapir, of Shabby Chic Sarcasm

A to Z Badge 2012 (1)A to Z Challenge, 2012

But I didn’t really get into more serious blogging until the April 2012 A to Z Challenge (to write 26 posts in the month of April). I took the challenge seriously. I decided that if I could do 26 posts in that short a time, I could probably do more. The A to Z format certainly made it easier to come up with ideas.

I finished the 2012 A to Z with a hey,-I-can-do-this-blogging-thing attitude, further reinforcing Kristen Lamb’s yes-you-can-do-it encouragement.

Of course, blogging daily is tricky to do what with all the other commitments in life, so I settled into a doable pattern of two to three blog posts a week and continued through November of 2012 before taking a break because of family health issues. When that 2013 A to Z Challenge flashed around the Internet, I was hooked again!

Topics

In May of 2012, I traveled to Tuscany and Rome in Italy for two weeks with my sister-in-law and two other friends and found many topics to writevilla-Il Cortile del Borgo about there. We rented a villa named Il Borghetto near San Gimignano and wrote about that. We visited other intriguing Italian cities, and I wrote about them: Florence, Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, aother charming towns. We traveled to Rome, and I wrote about our adventures there, staying in an old family-run hotel near Piazza Navona.

After Italy, I returned to Southern New Jersey and wrote about surprising things there: blueberry festivals, derecho (severe wind storm), veggie farms, Relay for Life, Ocean City, and a few other events of interest in my home state. And I added recipes for my favorite foods using “Jersey Fresh” vegetables and fruits.

For the 2013 A to Z Challenge, I have focused more on Writing PLUS Grammar-You-Can-See. Let’s just wait-and-see what comes along next!

Thanks, again, to all my faithful friends and followers. You truly are the best. My blogging adventure has been fun, though I must admit it has had its hours and hours moments of frustration. The learning curve is steep, but it does level off get less steep as you move along. Just keep writing!

***

Here’s a post from Ellen Gregory, a WANA112 friend, on her recent accomplishment of writing 200 posts. It’s so nice to see my blogger friends hit their own milestones. Congratulations, Ellen.

The Last Meow

Of course, kitties have been a big part of my blog. They always have something smart to say. They really don’t care for myTerribly Cute pic...cat attitude grammar posts, but they seem to like the rest of my blog topics. They celebrate with me on our 10,000 views. After all, that means they get 10,000 views, too. No grumpy cats here!

Meow for now.   ={^;^}=

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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.

001 (4)

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

001 (5)

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.  ={^.^}=

E is for Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Punctuation Matters

a-to-z-letters-2013cats FridayHI. I’m blogging through the alphabet in April 2013 with the A to Z Challenge. Join me for some fun with A to Z Grammar.

Usually on Fridays in school, teachers slow the pace down a bit and give their restless charges a break with some lighter activities. The change of pace helps students clear their over-stuffed minds.

Following this widely accepted educator practice, I will take a break from grammar principles. Instead, I will mention two humorous books related to grammar, usage, and writing conventions.

One book, published in Great Britian in 2003, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss, has now sold more than three million copies worldwide. Seems like there might be a bit of interest in punctuation. You think?

In the first few pages of her book, Lynne Truss refers to a joke that emphasizes the importance of the comma in writing.

A panda walked into a library, sat down, and ate his lunch. After he finished his sandwich, he fired off two arrows from his handy bow.

East, shoots and leaves

East, shoots and leaves

The surprised librarian asked, “Why?

The panda tossed her a badly punctuated book. “I’m a Panda, and this book says we do that.”

The librarian looked up panda in the manual and found that a panda is “a large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. It eats, shoots and leaves.”

With that, the panda walked out of the library.

A comma placed after the word shoots changes the entire meaning of the sentence. This joke captures the essence of the message that Truss wants to leave with us: be careful with punctuation. Bad punctuation changes the meaning of what you are trying to say.

Truss covers punctuation abuse (both in Great Britain and the United States) related to apostrophes, commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, and hyphens. She deplores, ridicules, and insults those who disregard the proper conventions for punctuating sentences and cause the general disintegration of the English language.  Being a self-admitted sticker, she encourages the sticklers of the world to unite to eradicate childish and barbaric abuses of punctuation. We should “fight like tigers to preserve our punctuation,” she proclaims.

Truss’s book has since been published in a children’s edition: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a EAts, shoots and leaves.for kidsDifference.  Take a look at these two examples.

Look at that huge hot dog!   (a giant hot dog in a bun)

Look at that huge, hot dog!   (a very big, thirsty dog)

The point of all this is that punctuation does matter, and Truss brings that to our attention in a humorous, but serious, manner. Keep in mind though that there are differences between British spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. These differences don’t really matter as long as you are consistent with the style guidelines of your own country. Of course there is a bit of finger-pointing between the two countries about which one has it right. No matter. That one will probably never be solved.

The following humorous little video points out a few differences between British English and American English. Take a minute to watch, and I guarantee you will chuckle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6ekn8h6jzE

So What? Who Cares?

Many metaphors have been used to describe the importance of punctuation, but Lynn Truss prefers this simple definition of purpose:

Punctuation is a courtesy designed to help readers to understand story without stumbling.

Improper punctuation can create potentially embarrassing situations, so the polite, careful writer will pay attention to punctuation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6ekn8h6jzE

The Last Meowgrammar cat

Gotta love those know-it-all cats.

See you tomorrow. https://janiceheck.wordpress.com

D is for Direct Object or Happy Birthday?

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

I made a mental list of all the exciting, fun grammatical terms that I could write about on D-Day: direct objects, dangling modifiers, declarative sentences, dependent clauses, descriptive writing, diagramming sentences, dialogue…and many more. You know, all those things that thrill you when you read about them. It’s more than enough to keep me writing for hours.

But dang it, it’s my birthday, so let’s have some real fun. I’ve got some party kitties just hanging around impatiently waiting for some good times.

happy birthday kitty chorusOf course, Mr. Sassy Cat Smarty Pants is hanging around ready to make a smart aleck remark!

cat birthday imageAll right. I’ve got that out of my system now. And since you laughed at Mr. Sassy Cat, you get a grammar lesson on subject pronouns, object pronouns, and direct objects.

Easy. Just think of “I love you.”

I love you image

“I love you” is a perfect Subject-Verb-Object sentence using a subject pronoun ( I ) and an object pronoun ( you ).

Subject pronouns and object pronouns get mixed up all the time. Douglas Cazort, author Under the Grammar Hammer: The 25 Most Important Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, writes that using objective case pronouns as subjects is the GRAND NUMBER ONE of all mistakes, causing “a strong negative reaction in a great majority of readers.”

People generally do not have difficulty with singular subject and object pronouns. They are easy-peasey. Just look at this chart.  There may be some odd romantic triangles here, but there are no grammatical errors. People have more difficulty with two or more subject pronouns or object pronouns. The second chart should help with that.

You just have to remember that “I” is the subject pronoun and “me” is the object pronoun and never switch them.  If you keep the subject pronouns in the front of the sentence and the object pronouns in the back of the sentence, you should get your pronoun use correct.

001 (3)

The trouble comes when two people love the same two people. Romantically, that’s an argument a fistfight a brawl waiting to happen. And grammatically, it causes anguish. People overthink their pronouns, then make the wrong choice.

Again, if you keep the subject pronouns in the front of the sentence and the object pronouns in the back of the sentence, you should get your subject and object pronoun use correct.

Look at this chart of mixed-up romantic relationships. These people are bound for even more trouble romantically, but they get five stars for correct grammar.

001 (4)

So What? Who Cares?

Here are a few reasons for trying to get your subject pronouns and object pronouns correct.men's tee grammar

correcting your grammar Zazzle1. Turns out a lot of people care about grammar. Here’s one clue. You can buy buttons or T-shirts that proclaim that people evaluate your grammar. It happens all the time. So be careful. Get your pronouns right, and people will know that you got an A in English in the fourth grade.

2. If you know your subject/object pronouns you, too, can wear the green button or the orange T-shirt. You can also correct TV newscasters and commentators. You might think twice before correcting your mother-in-law.

The Last Meow

So the cats are tired of all this grammar stuff and want to get back to the birthday party. I hear that Grumpy Cat is eyeing my cake and licking his lips. Knowing him, he’ll dive into the cake before anyone else has a chance to have a piece. See you on E-Day.

grumpy cat and cake

C is for… Complements and Compliments: So What? Who Cares?

a-to-z-letters-201326 letters of the alphabet, 26 days, 26 posts (Sundays are freebee days. *clap* clap* clap.*)

My theme for 2013: Writing PLUS Grammar You Can See

A strong knowledge of grammar helps writers produce more effective writing; more effective writing improves communication.

Each post will feature one aspect of writing with a grammar connection. Most posts will include a “So What? Who Cares?” section and a “Goals/Suggestions” section.  The goals won’t be to just write more; anyone can do that. The goal will be to write better.

Along the way, I plan to throw in a cat or two. Sorry, they just have a way of sneaking into my blogs.

C is for Complements and Compliments:  So What? Who Cares?

Complements and compliments often get mixed up in writing; in fact, these two words are on many common error in writing lists. This is a usage problem, not a grammar problem. Personally, I prefer compliments, but complements can be very effective in writing when used wisely.

Usage: complement and compliment

Usage is the customary way we use words in Standard Written English. Unfortunately, we sometimes switch words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. Complement and compliment are two of these commonly confused words. The chart below summarizes definitions, examples, and memory tricks to help avoid this mix-up.

001

Grammar: Complement

Everyone loves compliments, but the word compliment is not a grammatical term, so we can drop that word from our discussion.  Complement, on the other hand, is a much more functional term. It is a grammatical term, and it has the power to improve your writing skills.

A complement is a word or group of words that, with the verb, complete the structure and meaning in the predicate of a sentence. (Webster’s) Complements take two forms: predicate nouns and predicate adjectives. Both give more information about the subject of the sentence. Both fall in a common sentence pattern:  S  +   LV   +   C.

001 (2)

Just as little children learn language patterns through listening and speaking without ever learning the grammatical terminology, we have learned about subject complements without having to memorize the terms.

So What? Who Cares?

You already know about complements intuitively from using our language for so many years, so why bother to review this?  Why? Because complements affect style in writing, and style sets you apart from other writers.

 Style

Everyone learns about basic sentence structure in the elementary grades. Even with snow days, field trips, bomb scares, and tie-dying days thrown in to interrupt the teaching schedules, everyone seems to learn about the basic sentence types: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. Students and writers use these types of sentences in their writing without even thinking about the terms. Yet those writers who do know these terms and how they function learn to manipulate their sentence structure and vocabulary to have a stronger impact on their readers. Here is how you can do this, too.

1.       Count your izzes and wazzes, then exchange these weak verbs for stronger ones.

Complements require the use of linking verbs, thus these verbs become very repetitive. Because they are so overused, they are weak. Count how many times you use linking verbs in your sentences, and you will discover an opportunity to sharpen your writing.

Bliss in blizzardMr. Terry is a hiker.

Mr. Terry hikes on the Appalachian Trail even when a blizzard swirls around him.

2.        Choose more specific adjectives. Add specific detail.

“Show, don’t tell” is a common piece of advice for writers. When we replace weak adjectives with stronger verbs and add more specific detail, we strengthen our writing.

Mr. Terry is tired. He is stumbling through the deep snow.

Mr. Terry trudges through the deep snow of the Appalachian Trail, moving only a few yards before he has to rest on his walking poles.

3.         Introduce word pairs and trios in place of vague adjectives and try them in different places.

Mr. Terry is tired.

Mr. Terry is stumbling through the snow, breathing heavily, and mumbling to himself. He is panicking because the storm has intensified, and he cannot see the next trail marker.

Stumbling through the snow, breathing heavily, and mumbling to himself, Mr. Terry panics when he can’t locate the next trail marker.

4.       Use comparisons: similes and metaphors.

Initially students write common comparisons, but we can encourage them to use original comparisons.

Mr. Terry is as tired as an old man after working all day.

Mr. Terry feels as tired as a hiker on Mount Everest without a Sherpa to carry his overstuffed backpack.

Feeling as tired as a hiker on Mount Everest without a Sherpa to carry his overstuffed backpack, Mr. Terry falls into a deep sleep in a mountain shelter near the trail.

Half the fun of writing is manipulating words and sentences to make them more interesting. Have fun with complements. I’m sure you’ll do a good job. That’s a compliment!

The Last Meow

And My Cat...in the snowHere’s a little kitty that loves the snow.

Writers and cats go together like chocolate and peanuts. Here’s a link to a post I wrote last year entitled, Cat-A-Log of Cat Crimes against Writers. You might enjoy reading about these crime perpetuators. https://janiceheck.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/a-to-z-c-is-for-cat-a-log-of-cat-crimes-against-writers/

Alison at alisonamazed likes kitties, too. Her post has a neat video of a cat leading a dog on a leash back to their home.

http://alisonamazed.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/a-z-gratitude-c-is-for-cats/

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