JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “#wanablogs”

A Little Catertainment (and Pink Panther) for #WANAfriday

Today is WANAfriday, featuring humorous, ridiculous, or scandalous views of life in general, or in this case, cats in particular.

Everybody loves cats on Internet, and there is a plethora of videos to make anyone and everyone smile. (Admit it, even Grumpy Cat makes you smile!)

Here’s one from Life With Cats, entitled “Rescued and Lovin’ It.”

This video, submitted to PurinaFriskies for a contest, features Savannah, White-E, Lillie, Freeway, Jo-Jo, Bart, Ozzy, T.S., Bushy, and Be-Be, in a designer cat park, complete with tree houses, swinging cat ramps, hammocks, spiral staircase, trees, and lots of grass. What an exciting playground for these formerly homeless kitties

The video is one of many submissions to the PurinaFriskies open call for videos from the public for its “Friskies” awards contest. Voting begins August 6.

Music, “Pink Panther,” arrangement by Charlie Tokarz.

After you leave a comment here, check out some of the other #WANAFriday posts…
Rabia Gale – Friday Funnies
Ellen Gregory – Hungry Cat
Liv Rancourt – WANAfriday Fun (including a creepy, devil-may-care video).
Kim Griffin: Much Like My Husband
Patricia Caviglia: WANAFriday: Friday Funnies

cats FridayThe Last Meow

Yes, it’s Friday, and things do seem to get a little weird around here on Friday. Maybe it is because of anticipation for Caterday.

Meow for now. =<^0^>=

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X is for . . X-It (exit) Strategy

a-to-z-letters-2013Day 24 in the A to Z Challenge, and here we are at letter X.

I have been reading a number of AtoZ bloggers’ posts to see how creatively they have handled this topic, and I am impressed. This letter has been a challenge for us all, (what will we ever do next year?) but look at what interesting things I found.

(X)aria
Xiu
Xantus, a hummingbird
Durty Fillums. And no, this is not a hummingbird variety, and it doesn’t start with X. Go read it and you’ll get it.

And hang on, we still have the letter Z to mangle manage.

The A to Z Challenge has been good for me in both 2012 and 2013. (See my treasured  2012 A to Z Badge of Honor?) Somehow I feel responsible to get survivor-atoz-2the letter of the day done, even if one delinquent letter spills over into the next letter territory. A to Z keeps me on task and in focus.  It keeps me interacting with other bloggers, clicking likes, and leaving short notes. This has been fun.

But what happens when the A to Z party is over?

One year ago, just before my first A to Z,  I joined WANA112 (We Are Not Alone) group organized by Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone. One hundred bloggers came together to share our beginner struggles with blogging under Kristen’s superior tutelage. Now 88 members of that original group still keep touch by sharing blogging posts, comments, support, and friendship in our own closed Facebook group. I love this group. They are the best.

And now, I have found new blogger friends on A to Z. I hope we can keep in touch via the Blogging A to Z Facebook page. But now, since this A to Z party is ending, I must decide what to do next, hence this X-It strategy post. Here are some beginning thoughts.

strategy

1. Keep blogging, but perhaps at a more sane regular pace, say two or three times a week.

2. Clean up my blog. It looks a little cluttered on the sidebar, and I want to tighten things up there.

3. Add my blogroll…I have procrastinated long enough on that. Thanks to Dawn M. Miller at Lingering Visions for sharing her thoughts on procrastination here.   

4. Keep reading blogs, liking them, and commenting on posts in WordPress reader. This is my favorite way to read blogs because they come up in a nice list and load quickly. (Going from my email to a blog post is sometimes slow.) And I like the way WordPress pulls up blogs in categories I have selected. I can quickly see what’s new in my favorite areas: grammar, writing, ESOL, English teaching, travel, photos, cooking, health, books, and of course, my all time favorite: CATS. ={^;^}= Meow.

5. Categorize my posts and publish topic lists of my posts. Along that line, I want to make headers for topics.

6. Print off a hard copy of each post (now at 93 posts). On post 100 I will post a Catalog of Cats Celebrating with me.

7. Master the gimmicks and widgets. Even after a year of posting, I still have trouble with getting new widgets in my sidebar. I think I have mastered it, then when I try to do it again, I fail. Maybe I should write down the directions? You think?

8. Get the answer to this question. WHY, WHY, WHY does WordPress flip back to an older version of my drafts when I click off to do something else? This is the most maddening thing.

9. I am sure more goals will pop into my mind as I rethink this whole process. These will do for a start.

Thanks for being my faithful readers. Now that I have stated my strategy, you will have to hold me accountable.

Now the educator in me says that I have to be S.M.A.R.T. about these strategies. Maybe another day. My head is spinning.

smart -goals 2

The Last Meow

Hey gang. It’s almost time for the BBBBIIIIIGGGGGG party. How about a little warm-up so we will be totally prepared? Meow for now.  =(^;^)     xxxxx

party cats on table

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.   ={^;^}=

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.  ={^.^}=

K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World

a-to-z-letters-2013Today is K-Day in the A to Z Challenge. It is also Friday. Yippee! My kitty friends are happy about that.

Today we will focus on some easy grammar:

kernel sentences.

A kernel sentence is one type of base sentence structure on which longer sentences can be built. It has a pattern that looks like this:

__________________    __________________
Subject                                               Verb

For now, fill in the slots with one noun and one verb and you will have a kernel sentence. These two words can easily be expanded into longer sentences at another time.

One way to do have fun doing this is to write S-V list poems.

Begin with a title, then add specific, present-tense, active verbs to expand the topic. Repeat the title at the end, perhaps adding a twist.

basketballBasketball
Mario dribbles.
Maria screams.
Manuel shoots
Jose dashes.
Jorge pants.
Cole sweats
Larry scores.
Sasha cheers.
Latitia swoons.
Basketball Romance!

paradeParade
Hands clap.
Feet stomp.
Men march.
Sirens wail.
Balloons float.
Flags wave.
Drummers bang.
Buglers blow.
Ladies dance.
Children cheer.
Popsicles melt.
Lines overflow.
Bodies jive.
Parade

Be creative and have fun with this. Brainstorm topics with students, then let them have a go at it. You will be surprised at the results.

So what. Who cares?

When students get a very firm handle on nouns and verbs, grammatical problems eventually disappear.

Teachers can teach the following concepts in very simple form using kernel sentences. It is much easier to see the patterns in two-word sentences. When students master the concept in the simplest form, they can then move on to expanding sentences.

  • subject-verb agreement
  • verb tense consistency
  • active verbs
  • parallel structure
  • vocabulary nuances

A firm handle on nouns and verbs will later help students reduce long sentences down to kernel sentences. If students can do this, they will be able to straighten out some of the most common errors.

  • sentence fragments
  • fused sentences (comma splice)
  • run-on sentences
  • lack of agreement between subject and verb
  • verb tense shifts in sentences
  • faulty parallel structure
  • punctuation errors

Of course, any programs designed to improve students’ speaking and writing must have lots of opportunity for conversation and creative and academic writing.  Writing subject/verb poems is only one aspect of a much larger focus on language, but it can help those students who are unsure of basic sentence structure concepts.  Spend a few minutes each class on grammatical structures and your students will learn patterns that will help them improve in both speaking (ESOL) and writing.

The Last Meow

I have only one word for you all:

cats FridayMeow for now.    =<^o^>=

J is for Jabberwocky and Invented Words

a-to-z-letters-2013J-Day in the A to Z Challenge. That means it Thursday! That’s cool.already Thursday cat

Yesterday I wrote about invented spelling of kids and cats; today I’m writing about invented words by poets. How are these similar?

Kids use their developing knowledge of phonetics to sound out words as they write. Before they become proficient in formal spelling, they write strings of letters to represent individual whole words. Of course, they can “read” their own stories back to listening adults who can’t quite comprehend this early genius.

Invented words, on the other hand, combine familiar sounds with familiar word parts and word meanings to form new words.  Invented words also follow grammatical rules. Nonsense nouns, for example, can have an article, be a plural and/or a possessive, or have a noun ending. Nonsense verbs show past, present, or future tense. Adjectives fall into their place just before a noun.jabberwocky_340x400

One fairly well-known nonsense poem, “Jabberwocky,” is a poem written by Lewis Carroll (Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898) in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872).

Alice is none other than the major character in Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the little girl who fell asleep on a riverbank and journeyed to another world, a strange one at that. (And Alice, it turns out, was a real person, the daughter of Dean Liddell, dean of Oxford University, and friend of Carroll.)

Things seem to be backwards in this strange world, so when Alice finds a strangely written book, she holds it in front of a mirror, and lo and behold, a story appears. Or is it a story?

            Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mom raths outgrabe.
***
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
. . .

What? Even Alice, wise little one that she was, could not understand the poem. Alice meets up with Humpty Dumpty who explains the meaning of the poem.borogoves

brillig (noun)….four o’clock in the afternoon (tea-time?)
(the time to begin broiling something for dinner)
slithy (adj)…..lithe and slimy
toves (noun)…badger/lizard creatures with corkscrew tails and noses that can dig holes
gyre (verb)…..  go round and round
gimble (verb)… make holes
wabe (noun)…   in the grass

mimsy (adj)…flimsy and miserable
borogoves (noun)…shabby looking birds with mop-like feathers
raths  (noun)……sort of a green pig
mom (adj)…..lost, away from from home
outgrabe (verb)….. bellow and whistle, shriek and squeak

Does it make better sense now?

Around dinner time, all kinds of crazy things started happening! Weird-looking animals (toves, borogoves, and raths)  began doing strange things like digging holes and making a lot of noise. Maybe they sensed the frightful Jabberwocky lurking nearby!

So what. Who cares?

Nonsense poems have a long history. Some say they have been around since Aesop’s fables and early folk tales.  The writers play with words and present humorous scenes to stimulate the imaginations of readers. Sometimes hidden meanings lurk behind the words, as when jesters make fun of the ruling powers that be, when double meanings hide the true intent of the words. But as often as not, the words just tell a silly story. The words flow in a rhythmical and pleasing way and provide entertainment for listeners.

The Last Meow

Jabberwocky. Smabberwocky. Enough of that nonsense. How about getting me a snack? All this educational stuff tires my brain.

Meow for now.   =<^-^>=weekend cat

I is for Invented Spelling of Kids and Cats

a-to-z-letters-2013A to Z Challenge: I-Daycrayons

Little children love to write. They pick up a crayons, markers, pencils, or pens and start out scribbling, and sooner or later, their scribbles start to look like shapes and squiggly letters.

This is all part of the early childhood developmental process. Just as they learn to crawl first, then walk, children go through developmental stages as they learn to speak and write.

kids writing 1

After scribbles, they make strings of letters as they tell a story about a picture. Later, they write one consonant letter to represent a word. The parent or teacher can’t yet read the story, but the child can read it back without hesitation.

Still later, the children become more proficient with beginning and  ending consonants and a few vowels. They write stories that are a bit more understandable to the adult reader.

001 (10)

(Me and my best friend sledding downhill with my friend’s dad. His made a jump for us.)

Educators use the term inventive spelling or invented spelling because children use the letters they know to create their stories even before they have formal spelling instruction. Yet this early writing clearly shows that the children are using the phonics they have learned directly or indirectly. Children whose parents have read to them a lot often have some nonphonetic “sight words” under their control, too.

Later, as they learn some rules for spelling and writing, their sentence patterns may become a bit choppy.  Their writing reflects their oral language patterns and may omit punctuation.

I want to play NO you can’t go out to play You were a bad girl.

Finally, children put their phonics knowledge, sight word knowledge, oral language, and punctuation skills together, and they begin to write stories adults can read. While there still may be errors in punctuation and capitalization, this next writer has reached the level where he can communicate through writing, and this is the ultimate goal of spelling and writing.

circusOn Saturday mom, Dad and I went to the circus. The ring master announced the acts. We saw a lion tamer put his head in the lion’s mouth. Then some acrabats swung on the trapeze up in the air. My favorite act was the one where the clowns ran around and tripped each other.

This developmental process is not level across the ages. One of the great surprises that I had when I first began teaching was the great range of ability and achievement in a single classroom.  There were always some children well ahead of grade level and some children that lagged behind grade level. This is the constant challenge that teachers face: how to meet the needs of all of these individual children and their widely varying achievement levels. It is honestly exhausting, but teachers do it day after day. And they still smile.

At any rate, teachers encourage children to write using whatever knowledge of phonetics they have at any given time. The more they practice sounding out words, the better they will get. And that’s really what invented spelling is: sounding out words using the sound-letter knowledge (phonetics) already known to the child. How exciting to compare a child’s writing sample from the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year. (This is why child portfolios of classroom work are so valuable for teachers and parents.)

Parents sometimes don’t understand the term invented spelling. I think the word “invented” sometimes throws them off. I like to call this type of spelling “early phonetic spelling.”

So what. Who cares?

Teachers care. I give a special hand to teachers for their hard work in the classroom. As a teacher, then later as an administrator, I was deeply impressed with the dedication and care teachers demonstrated on a daily basis. I am retired now, but teachers still hold a special place in my heart.

Teachers know and understand child developmental levels and know how to work with each child at his or her own level. They can read a piece of children’s writing and peg their phonetic levels based on the type of writing the child displays. They plan their lessons based on these trained observations of student writing. This is teaching at its best.

Take a look at this very well-done  “Message to Parents from Your Child’s Teacher” by Christine McCartney. It has an important message for parents about education.

The Last Meow

cat grammar5Cat memes have become quite popular on Internet. Cat spelling and grammar have even developed rules for correctness (with variations, of course). Cats have fairly consistent syntax (sentence structure), but there spelling is still….well, at the inventive level. However, I think this is primarily due to their independent natures, their own desire to remain in control, and finally, their desire to do whatever the heck they please. And what can you, the adult, do about this? Nothing. Nada. Nil. Fageddaboutit. Cats win every time. They are, after all, the superior race.

=<^.^>=  Meow for now.

cat- bleah

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

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/

B is for Blogging Bliss, Boohoos, and Booyahs

a-to-z-letters-2013April 2013 A to Z Challenge: 26 days. 26 posts. (Sundays are freebee days. *clap* clap* clap.*)

I joined the A to Z Challenge last year and despite some nail biting and hair pulling, I finished. Booyah.

Would I do that again? Hmmm.

But here it is again, the 2013 A to Z Challenge with 1969 participants lined up at the starting line. How many of us will make it to the end?  Well, one day at a time. Let’s just see how it goes. How far will we get before life interferes and brings us back to reality? In the meantime, let’s have some fun.

My theme for this year is . . .

Writing PLUS Grammar You Can See.

Through the month of April, I plan to give examples of how a strong knowledge of grammar can help writers produce more effective writing. More effective writing improves communication.

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

B is for Blogging Bliss, Booboos, and Booyahs

Blogging is a good way to develop your writing skill. Take a letter of the alphabet and write a brief commentary on it, add a picture, and post. Easy. Right?

Last year I published 67 posts before I caved in and took a hiatus. I went through the whole blogging learning curve, from dimwit to getting it. I managed to finish the A to Z, then added an equal number of posts on random topics of food, travel, weather, health, grammar, cats, and assorted other you-name-it topics.

Then along came a cold and nasty winter along with brain freeze, travel-to-warmer-climes wishes, and drat-it-all, family health issues.  Blogging fell by the wayside, until *tadah* the announcement of the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Memories of blogging past seemed blissful. Yes, I can do that. I did it once. I can do it again. I remembered the double-punch-in-the-air booyahs I gave myself when I published blog post number 26 in 2012. What could be more fun?

Boohoos

Theoretically, it should have been easy. I pulled up my dormant WordPress blog, raring to go. But yikes.  It looked different.  It was uncooperative and frustrating. Sometime during my absence, WordPress came in and changed a few things.

I couldn’t find my old media. I couldn’t pull up all my photo folders from my computer to select media (only some of them came up). I couldn’t remember how to add widgets.

Draft after draft disappeared. I typed and saved and typed and saved only to see my best wording and glamorous writing get swallowed up by who knows what? Whatever. Not once. Multiple times.

One post. Four hours and nothing final to show for it. Paranoia set in. I started saving drafts every two minutes, but I still lost my most recent draft.

Now I see. Part of this process is learning humility. Developing patience. Building character. I had to start back at the bottom of the learning curve again, back where it says, “Dimwit.”  Boohoo.

Okay, enough of that. Thankfully, I have already found some helpful advice from other AtoZers. Thanks, guys.

Booyahs

Along the way back up the learning curve, I outsmarted WordPress and printed off a hard copy of my post, well, several hard copies. Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

I also knew WordPress must be saving these drafts somewhere, but where? After a little exploration, I found “Screen Options” and under that “revisions,” and there I found draft after draft of my post all neatly numbered and dated.

Booyah.

Now to solve the widget puzzle.

In the meantime, booyah! B is done.

So What? Who Cares?

When out to dinner with friends a month or so ago, the topic of blogging came up. “Who reads your blog?” someone asked.  The obvious answer, “my husband;  my sister-in-law, Carol; and my blogger friends.”

Without readers, our blogs would have little purpose. We are all in this A to Z Challenge together. Reading each other’s blogs and making comments motivates us to keep going.

Blogger responses to my A blog mentioned a few grammar pet peeves: apostrophe abuse, contractions abuse, and plurals abuse. I’ll write about these in future posts. Thanks family, followers, and friends for your comments.

The Last Meow

Paw Nation...BAd CtsSince this is B day, here’s a little cat humor for you. What do cats read on B day?

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