This is “Writing Basics: What Makes a Good Sentence?”, chapter 2 from the book Successful Writing (v. 1.0).
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Imagine you are reading a book for school. You need to find important details that you can use for an assignment. However, when you begin to read, you notice that the book has very little punctuation. Sentences fail to form complete paragraphs and instead form one block of text without clear organization. Most likely, this book would frustrate and confuse you. Without clear and concise sentences, it is difficult to find the information you need.
For both students and professionals, clear communication is important. Whether you are typing an e-mail or writing a report, it is your responsibility to present your thoughts and ideas clearly and precisely. Writing in complete sentences is one way to ensure that you communicate well. This section covers how to recognize and write basic sentence structures and how to avoid some common writing errors.
Clearly written, complete sentences require key information: a subject, a verb and a complete idea. A sentence needs to make sense on its own. Sometimes, complete sentences are also called independent clauses. A clauseA group of words that contains a subject and a verb and may make up a complete sentence. is a group of words that may make up a sentence. An independent clauseA group of words that contains a subject and a verb and can stand alone as a complete, grammatically correct thought. An independent clause is a complete sentence. is a group of words that may stand alone as a complete, grammatically correct thought. The following sentences show independent clauses.
All complete sentences have at least one independent clause. You can identify an independent clause by reading it on its own and looking for the subject and the verb.
When you read a sentence, you may first look for the subjectA word that tells who or what the sentence is about. Subjects are usually nouns or pronouns., or what the sentence is about. The subject usually appears at the beginning of a sentence as a nounA word that identifies a person, place, thing, or idea. or a pronounA word that substitutes for a noun; for example, I, you, he, she, it, we, or they.. A noun is a word that identifies a person, place, thing, or idea. A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun. Common pronouns are I, he, she, it, you, they, and we. In the following sentences, the subject is underlined once.
In these sentences, the subject is a person: Malik. The pronoun He replaces and refers back to Malik.
In the first sentence, the subject is a place: computer lab. In the second sentence, the pronoun It substitutes for computer lab as the subject.
In the first sentence, the subject is a thing: project. In the second sentence, the pronoun It stands in for the project.
In this chapter, please refer to the following grammar key:
A sentence may have more than one person, place, or thing as the subject. These subjects are called compound subjectsA subject that contains two or more nouns or pronouns joined by the words and, or, or nor.. Compound subjects are useful when you want to discuss several subjects at once.
You will often read a sentence that has more than one noun or pronoun in it. You may encounter a group of words that includes a prepositionType of word that connects a noun, pronoun, or verb to another word that describes or modifies it. Common prepositions include in, on, under, near, by, with, and about. with a noun or a pronoun. Prepositions connect a noun, pronoun, or verb to another word that describes or modifies that noun, pronoun, or verb. Common prepositions include in, on, under, near, by, with, and about. A group of words that begin with a preposition is called a prepositional phraseA group of words that begins with a preposition.. A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and modifies or describes a word. It cannot act as the subject of a sentence. The following circled phrases are examples of prepositional phrases.
Read the following sentences. Underline the subjects, and circle the prepositional phrases.
Once you locate the subject of a sentence, you can move on to the next part of a complete sentence: the verbA word that tells what the subject is doing or links the subject to a describing word.. A verb is often an action word that shows what the subject is doing. A verb can also link the subject to a describing word. There are three types of verbs that you can use in a sentence: action verbs, linking verbs, or helping verbs.
A verb that connects the subject to an action is called an action verbA verb that identifies the action the subject performs.. An action verb answers the question what is the subject doing? In the following sentences, the words underlined twice are action verbs.
A verb can often connect the subject of the sentence to a describing word. This type of verb is called a linking verbA verb that connects or links the subject of a sentence to a noun or adjective. because it links the subject to a describing word. In the following sentences, the words underlined twice are linking verbs.
If you have trouble telling the difference between action verbs and linking verbs, remember that an action verb shows that the subject is doing something, whereas a linking verb simply connects the subject to another word that describes or modifies the subject. A few verbs can be used as either action verbs or linking verbs.
Although both sentences use the same verb, the two sentences have completely different meanings. In the first sentence, the verb describes the boy’s action. In the second sentence, the verb describes the boy’s appearance.
A third type of verb you may use as you write is a helping verbVerbs that are used with a main verb to describe mood or tense. The helping verb is usually a form of be, do, or have.. Helping verbs are verbs that are used with the main verb to describe a mood or tense. Helping verbs are usually a form of be, do, or have. The word can is also used as a helping verb.
Whenever you write or edit sentences, keep the subject and verb in mind. As you write, ask yourself these questions to keep yourself on track:
Subject: Who or what is the sentence about?
Verb: Which word shows an action or links the subject to a description?
Copy each sentence onto your own sheet of paper and underline the verb(s) twice. Name the type of verb(s) used in the sentence in the space provided (LV, HV, or V).
Now that you know what makes a complete sentence—a subject and a verb—you can use other parts of speech to build on this basic structure. Good writers use a variety of sentence structures to make their work more interesting. This section covers different sentence structures that you can use to make longer, more complex sentences.
Six basic subject-verb patterns can enhance your writing. A sample sentence is provided for each pattern. As you read each sentence, take note of where each part of the sentence falls. Notice that some sentence patterns use action verbs and others use linking verbs.
When you write a sentence with a direct object (DO), make sure that the DO receives the action of the verb.
In this sentence structure, an indirect objectA noun or pronoun in a sentence that answers to whom or to what the action is being done. The indirect object comes before the direct object in a sentence. explains to whom or to what the action is being done. The indirect object is a noun or pronoun, and it comes before the direct object in a sentence.
Use what you have learned so far to bring variety in your writing. Use the following lines or your own sheet of paper to write six sentences that practice each basic sentence pattern. When you have finished, label each part of the sentence (S, V, LV, N, Adj, Adv, DO, IO).
Find an article in a newspaper, a magazine, or online that interests you. Bring it to class or post it online. Then, looking at a classmate’s article, identify one example of each part of a sentence (S, V, LV, N, Adj, Adv, DO, IO). Please share or post your results.
The sentences you have encountered so far have been independent clauses. As you look more closely at your past writing assignments, you may notice that some of your sentences are not complete. A sentence that is missing a subject or a verb is called a fragmentAn incomplete sentence that results when a subject or a verb is missing.. A fragment may include a description or may express part of an idea, but it does not express a complete thought.
Fragment: Children helping in the kitchen.
Complete sentence: Children helping in the kitchen often make a mess.
You can easily fix a fragment by adding the missing subject or verb. In the example, the sentence was missing a verb. Adding often make a mess creates an S-V-N sentence structure.
Figure 2.1 Editing Fragments That Are Missing a Subject or a Verb
See whether you can identify what is missing in the following fragments.
Fragment: Told her about the broken vase.
Complete sentence: I told her about the broken vase.
Fragment: The store down on Main Street.
Complete sentence: The store down on Main Street sells music.
Fragments often occur because of some common error, such as starting a sentence with a preposition, a dependent word, an infinitiveA verb form that combines the word to with a verb, such as to buy, to go, or to gather., or a gerundA verb form ending in -ing that is used as a noun, such as running, writing, or celebrating.. If you use the six basic sentence patterns when you write, you should be able to avoid these errors and thus avoid writing fragments.
When you see a preposition, check to see that it is part of a sentence containing a subject and a verb. If it is not connected to a complete sentence, it is a fragment, and you will need to fix this type of fragment by combining it with another sentence. You can add the prepositional phrase to the end of the sentence. If you add it to the beginning of the other sentence, insert a comma after the prepositional phrase.
Figure 2.2 Editing Fragments That Begin with a Preposition
Clauses that start with a dependent wordThe first word in a dependent clause. Common dependent words are since, because, without, unless, and so on.—such as since, because, without, or unless—are similar to prepositional phrases. Like prepositional phrases, these clauses can be fragments if they are not connected to an independent clause containing a subject and a verb. To fix the problem, you can add such a fragment to the beginning or end of a sentence. If the fragment is added at the beginning of a sentence, add a comma.
When you encounter a word ending in -ing in a sentence, identify whether or not this word is used as a verb in the sentence. You may also look for a helping verb. If the word is not used as a verb or if no helping verb is used with the -ing verb form, the verb is being used as a noun. An -ing verb form used as a noun is called a gerund.
Once you know whether the -ing word is acting as a noun or a verb, look at the rest of the sentence. Does the entire sentence make sense on its own? If not, what you are looking at is a fragment. You will need to either add the parts of speech that are missing or combine the fragment with a nearby sentence.
Figure 2.3 Editing Fragments That Begin with Gerunds
Incorrect: Taking deep breaths. Saul prepared for his presentation.
Correct: Taking deep breaths, Saul prepared for his presentation.
Correct: Saul prepared for his presentation. He was taking deep breaths.
Incorrect: Congratulating the entire team. Sarah raised her glass to toast their success.
Correct: She was congratulating the entire team. Sarah raised her glass to toast their success.
Correct: Congratulating the entire team, Sarah raised her glass to toast their success.
Another error in sentence construction is a fragment that begins with an infinitive. An infinitive is a verb paired with the word to; for example, to run, to write, or to reach. Although infinitives are verbs, they can be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. You can correct a fragment that begins with an infinitive by either combining it with another sentence or adding the parts of speech that are missing.
Incorrect: We needed to make three hundred more paper cranes. To reach the one thousand mark.
Correct: We needed to make three hundred more paper cranes to reach the one thousand mark.
Correct: We needed to make three hundred more paper cranes. We wanted to reach the one thousand mark.
Copy the following sentences onto your own sheet of paper and circle the fragments. Then combine the fragment with the independent clause to create a complete sentence.
Just as short, incomplete sentences can be problematic, lengthy sentences can be problematic too. Sentences with two or more independent clauses that have been incorrectly combined are known as run-on sentencesA sentence made up of two or more independent clauses that have been incorrectly combined.. A run-on sentence may be either a fused sentence or a comma splice.
Fused sentence: A family of foxes lived under our shed young foxes played all over the yard.
Comma splice: We looked outside, the kids were hopping on the trampoline.
When two complete sentences are combined into one without any punctuation, the result is a fused sentenceA run-on sentence created by two complete sentences combined into one without any punctuation.. When two complete sentences are joined by a comma, the result is a comma spliceA run-on sentence created by two complete sentences separated only by a single comma.. Both errors can easily be fixed.
One way to correct run-on sentences is to correct the punctuation. For example, adding a period will correct the run-on by creating two separate sentences.
Using a semicolon between the two complete sentences will also correct the error. A semicolon allows you to keep the two closely related ideas together in one sentence. When you punctuate with a semicolon, make sure that both parts of the sentence are independent clauses. For more information on semicolons, see Section 2.4.2 "Capitalize Proper Nouns".
Run-on: The accident closed both lanes of traffic we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.
Complete sentence: The accident closed both lanes of traffic; we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.
When you use a semicolon to separate two independent clauses, you may wish to add a transition word to show the connection between the two thoughts. After the semicolon, add the transition word and follow it with a comma. For more information on transition words, see Chapter 8 "The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?".
Run-on: The project was put on hold we didn’t have time to slow down, so we kept working.
Complete sentence: The project was put on hold; however, we didn’t have time to slow down, so we kept working.
You can also fix run-on sentences by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunctionA word that links two independent clauses. Common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.. A coordinating conjunction acts as a link between two independent clauses.
These are the seven coordinating conjunctions that you can use: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Use these words appropriately when you want to link the two independent clauses. The acronym FANBOYS will help you remember this group of coordinating conjunctions.
Run-on: The new printer was installed, no one knew how to use it.
Complete sentence: The new printer was installed, but no one knew how to use it.
Adding dependent words is another way to link independent clauses. Like the coordinating conjunctions, dependent words show a relationship between two independent clauses.
Run-on: We took the elevator, the others still got there before us.
Complete sentence: Although we took the elevator, the others got there before us.
Run-on: Cobwebs covered the furniture, the room hadn’t been used in years.
Complete sentence: Cobwebs covered the furniture because the room hadn’t been used in years.
Figure 2.4 Sample e-mail
Isabelle’s e-mail opens with two fragments and two run-on sentences containing comma splices. The e-mail ends with another fragment. What effect would this e-mail have on Mr. Blankenship or other readers? Mr. Blankenship or other readers may not think highly of Isaebelle’s communication skills or—worse—may not understand the message at all! Communications written in precise, complete sentences are not only more professional but also easier to understand. Before you hit the “send” button, read your e-mail carefully to make sure that the sentences are complete, are not run together, and are correctly punctuated.
A reader can get lost or lose interest in material that is too dense and rambling. Use what you have learned about run-on sentences to correct the following passages:
Using the six basic sentence structures, write one of the following:
In the workplace, you want to present a professional image. Your outfit or suit says something about you when meeting face-to-face, and your writing represents you in your absence. Grammatical mistakes in your writing or even in speaking make a negative impression on coworkers, clients, and potential employers. Subject-verb agreement is one of the most common errors that people make. Having a solid understanding of this concept is critical when making a good impression, and it will help ensure that your ideas are communicated clearly.
AgreementRefers to the proper grammatical match between words and phrases. in speech and in writing refers to the proper grammatical match between words and phrases. Parts of sentences must agreeTo match parts of speech in number, case, gender or person., or correspond with other parts, in number, person, case, and gender.
Subject-verb agreement describes the proper match between subjects and verbs.
Because subjects and verbs are either singular or plural, the subject of a sentence and the verb of a sentence must agree with each other in number. That is, a singular subject belongs with a singular verb form, and a plural subject belongs with a plural verb form. For more information on subjects and verbs, see Section 2.1 "Sentence Writing".
Regular verbsVerbs that follow a predictable pattern when shifting tenses, such as from the present to the past tense. follow a predictable pattern. For example, in the third person singular, regular verbs always end in -s. Other forms of regular verbs do not end in -s. Study the following regular verb forms in the present tense.
|Singular Form||Plural Form|
|First Person||I live.||We live.|
|Second Person||You live.||You live.|
|Third Person||He/She/It lives.||They live.|
Add an -es to the third person singular form of regular verbs that end in -sh, -x, -ch, and -s. (I wish/He wishes, I fix/She fixes, I watch/It watches, I kiss/He kisses.)
In these sentences, the verb form stays the same for the first person singular and the first person plural.
In these sentences, the verb form stays the same for the second person singular and the second person plural. In the singular form, the pronoun you refers to one person. In the plural form, the pronoun you refers to a group of people, such as a team.
In this sentence, the subject is mother. Because the sentence only refers to one mother, the subject is singular. The verb in this sentence must be in the third person singular form.
In this sentence, the subject is friends. Because this subject refers to more than one person, the subject is plural. The verb in this sentence must be in the third person plural form.
Many singular subjects can be made plural by adding an -s. Most regular verbs in the present tense end with an -s in the third person singular. This does not make the verbs plural.
On your own sheet of paper, write the correct verb form for each of the following sentences.
Not all verbs follow a predictable pattern. These verbs are called irregular verbsVerbs that do not follow a predictable pattern when shifting tenses, such as from the present to the past tense.. Some of the most common irregular verbs are be, have, and do. Learn the forms of these verbs in the present tense to avoid errors in subject-verb agreement.
Study the different forms of the verb to be in the present tense.
|Singular Form||Plural Form|
|First Person||I am.||We are.|
|Second Person||You are.||You are.|
|Third Person||He/She/It is.||They are.|
Study the different forms of the verb to have in the present tense.
|Singular Form||Plural Form|
|First Person||I have.||We have.|
|Second Person||You have.||You have.|
|Third Person||He/She/It has.||They have.|
Study the different forms of the verb to do in the present tense.
|Singular Form||Plural Form|
|First Person||I do.||We do.|
|Second Person||You do.||You do.|
|Third person||He/She/It does.||They do.|
Complete the following sentences by writing the correct present tense form of be, have, or do. Use your own sheet of paper to complete this exercise.
Errors in subject-verb agreement may occur when
Recognizing the sources of common errors in subject-verb agreement will help you avoid these errors in your writing. This section covers the subject-verb agreement errors in more detail.
A compound subjectA subject that is formed when two or more nouns are linked by the coordinating conjunctions and, or, or nor. is formed by two or more nouns and the coordinating conjunctions and, or, or nor. A compound subject can be made of singular subjects, plural subjects, or a combination of singular and plural subjects.
Compound subjects combined with and take a plural verb form.
Compound subjects combined with or and nor are treated separately. The verb must agree with the subject that is nearest to the verb.
If you can substitute the word they for the compound subject, then the sentence takes the third person plural verb form.
As you read or write, you may come across a sentence that contains a phrase or clause that separates the subject from the verb. Often, prepositional phrases or dependent clauses add more information to the sentence and appear between the subject and the verb. However, the subject and the verb must still agree.
If you have trouble finding the subject and verb, cross out or ignore the phrases and clauses that begin with prepositions or dependent words. The subject of a sentence will never be in a prepositional phrase or dependent clause.
The following is an example of a subject and verb separated by a prepositional phrase:
The following is an example of a subject and verb separated by a dependent clause:
Indefinite pronounsA pronoun that refers to an unspecified person, thing, or number. refer to an unspecified person, thing, or number. When an indefinite pronoun serves as the subject of a sentence, you will often use a singular verb form.
However, keep in mind that exceptions arise. Some indefinite pronouns may require a plural verb form. To determine whether to use a singular or plural verb with an indefinite pronoun, consider the noun that the pronoun would refer to. If the noun is plural, then use a plural verb with the indefinite pronoun. View the chart to see a list of common indefinite pronouns and the verb forms they agree with.
|Indefinite Pronouns That Always Take a Singular Verb||Indefinite Pronouns That Can Take a Singular or Plural Verb|
|anybody, anyone, anything||All|
|everybody, everyone, everything||None|
|nobody, no one, nothing|
|somebody, someone, something|
The indefinite pronoun everybody takes a singular verb form because everybody refers to a group performing the same action as a single unit.
The indefinite pronoun all takes a plural verb form because all refers to the plural noun people. Because people is plural, all is plural.
In this sentence, the indefinite pronoun all takes a singular verb form because all refers to the singular noun cake. Because cake is singular, all is singular.
A collective nounA noun that identifies more than one person, place, or thing and treats those people, places, or things as a singular unit. is a noun that identifies more than one person, place, or thing and considers those people, places, or things one singular unit. Because collective nouns are counted as one, they are singular and require a singular verb. Some commonly used collective nouns are group, team, army, flock, family, and class.
In this sentence, class is a collective noun. Although the class consists of many students, the class is treated as a singular unit and requires a singular verb form.
You may encounter sentences in which the subject comes after the verb instead of before the verb. In other words, the subject of the sentence may not appear where you expect it to appear. To ensure proper subject-verb agreement, you must correctly identify the subject and the verb.
In sentences that begin with here or there, the subject follows the verb.
If you have trouble identifying the subject and the verb in sentences that start with here or there; it may help to reverse the order of the sentence so the subject comes first.
When you ask questions, a question word (who, what, where, when, why, or how) appears first. The verb and then the subject follow.
If you have trouble finding the subject and the verb in questions, try answering the question being asked.
Correct the errors in subject-verb agreement in the following sentences. If there are no errors in subject-verb agreement, write OK. Copy the corrected sentence or the word OK on your own sheet of notebook paper.
My dog and cats chases each other all the time.
The books that are in my library is the best I have ever read.
Everyone are going to the concert except me.
My family are moving to California.
Here is the lake I told you about.
There is the newspapers I was supposed to deliver.
Which room is bigger?
When are the movie going to start?
My sister and brother cleans up after themselves.
Some of the clothes is packed away in the attic.
Correct the errors in subject-verb agreement in the following paragraph. Copy the paragraph on a piece of notebook paper and make corrections.
Dear Hiring Manager,
I feels that I am the ideal candidate for the receptionist position at your company. I has three years of experience as a receptionist in a company that is similar to yours. My phone skills and written communication is excellent. These skills, and others that I have learned on the job, helps me understand that every person in a company helps make the business a success. At my current job, the team always say that I am very helpful. Everyone appreciate when I go the extra mile to get the job done right. My current employer and coworkers feels that I am an asset to the team. I is efficient and organized. Is there any other details about me that you would like to know? If so, please contact me. Here are my résumé. You can reach me by e-mail or phone. I looks forward to speaking with you in person.
Figure 2.5 Advertisement
Imagine that you are a prospective client and that you saw this ad online. Would you call Terra Services to handle your next project? Probably not! Mistakes in subject-verb agreement can cost a company business. Paying careful attention to grammatical details ensures professionalism that clients will recognize and respect.
Use your knowledge of subject-verb agreement to write one of the following:
Be sure to include at least the following:
Suppose you must give an oral presentation about what you did last summer. How do you make it clear that you are talking about the past and not about the present or the future? Using the correct verb tense can help you do this.
It is important to use the proper verb tense. Otherwise, your listener might judge you harshly. Mistakes in tense often leave a listener or reader with a negative impression.
Verbs indicate actions or states of being in the past, present, or future using tenses. Regular verbsVerbs whose endings follow regular patterns when shifting from the present to past tense. follow regular patterns when shifting from the present to past tense. For example, to form a past-tense or past-participle verb form, add -ed or -d to the end of a verb. You can avoid mistakes by understanding this basic pattern.
Verb tenseA verb form that identifies the time of action described in a sentence. identifies the time of action described in a sentence. Verbs take different forms to indicate different tenses. Verb tenses indicate
Helping verbs, such as be and have, also work to create verb tenses, such as the future tense.
Complete the following sentences by selecting the correct form of the verb in simple present, simple past, or simple future tenses. Write the corrected sentence on your own sheet of paper.
The past tense of irregular verbsVerbs whose endings do not follow regular patterns when shifting from present to past tense. is not formed using the patterns that regular verbs follow. Study Table 2.1 "Irregular Verbs", which lists the most common irregular verbs.
The best way to learn irregular verbs is to memorize them. With the help of a classmate, create flashcards of irregular verbs and test yourselves until you master them.
Table 2.1 Irregular Verbs
|Simple Present||Past||Simple Present||Past|
Here we consider using irregular verbs.
Complete the following sentences by selecting the correct form of the irregular verb in simple present, simple past, or simple future tense. Copy the corrected sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
On your own sheet of paper, write a sentence using the correct form of the verb tense shown below.
Consistent verb tenseUsing the same verb tense throughout a sentence or paragraph. means the same verb tense is used throughout a sentence or a paragraph. As you write and revise, it is important to use the same verb tense consistently and to avoid shifting from one tense to another unless there is a good reason for the tense shift. In the following box, see whether you notice the difference between a sentence with consistent tense and one with inconsistent tense.
In some cases, clear communication will call for different tenses. Look at the following example:
If the time frame for each action or state is different, a tense shift is appropriate.
Edit the following paragraph by correcting the inconsistent verb tense. Copy the corrected paragraph onto your own sheet of paper.
In the Middle Ages, most people lived in villages and work as agricultural laborers, or peasants. Every village has a “lord,” and the peasants worked on his land. Much of what they produce go to the lord and his family. What little food was leftover goes to support the peasants’ families. In return for their labor, the lord offers them protection. A peasant’s day usually began before sunrise and involves long hours of backbreaking work, which includes plowing the land, planting seeds, and cutting crops for harvesting. The working life of a peasant in the Middle Ages is usually demanding and exhausting.
Read the following excerpt from a work e-mail:
The inconsistent tense in the e-mail will very likely distract the reader from its overall point. Most likely, your coworkers will not correct your verb tenses or call attention to grammatical errors, but it is important to keep in mind that errors such as these do have a subtle negative impact in the workplace.
Tell a family story. You likely have several family stories to choose from, but pick the one that you find most interesting to write about. Use as many details as you can in the telling. As you write and proofread, make sure your all your verbs are correct and the tenses are consistent.
Text messages, casual e-mails, and instant messages often ignore the rules of capitalizationUsing a capital letter as the first letter of a word.. In fact, it can seem unnecessary to capitalize in these contexts. In other, more formal forms of communication, however, knowing the basic rules of capitalization and using capitalization correctly gives the reader the impression that you choose your words carefully and care about the ideas you are conveying.
Proper nouns—the names of specific people, places, objects, streets, buildings, events, or titles of individuals—are always capitalized.
Always capitalize nationalities, races, languages, and religions. For example, American, African American, Hispanic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and so on.
Do not capitalize nouns for people, places, things, streets, buildings, events, and titles when the noun is used in general or common way. See the following chart for the difference between proper nouns and common nouns.
|Common Noun||Proper Noun|
|museum||The Art Institute of Chicago|
|book||Pride and Prejudice|
|war||the Spanish-American War|
|historical event||The Renaissance|
On your own sheet of paper, write five proper nouns for each common noun that is listed. The first one has been done for you.
Common noun: river
Common noun: musician
Common noun: magazine
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
Computer-related words such as “Internet” and “World Wide Web” are usually capitalized; however, “e-mail” and “online” are never capitalized.
Edit the following sentences by correcting the capitalization of the titles or names.
Edit the following paragraphs by correcting the capitalization.
david grann’s the lost City of Z mimics the snake-like winding of the amazon River. The three distinct Stories that are introduced are like twists in the River. First, the Author describes his own journey to the amazon in the present day, which is contrasted by an account of percy fawcett’s voyage in 1925 and a depiction of James Lynch’s expedition in 1996. Where does the river lead these explorers? the answer is one that both the Author and the reader are hungry to discover.
The first lines of the preface pull the reader in immediately because we know the author, david grann, is lost in the amazon. It is a compelling beginning not only because it’s thrilling but also because this is a true account of grann’s experience. grann has dropped the reader smack in the middle of his conflict by admitting the recklessness of his decision to come to this place. the suspense is further perpetuated by his unnerving observation that he always considered himself A Neutral Witness, never getting personally involved in his stories, a notion that is swiftly contradicted in the opening pages, as the reader can clearly perceive that he is in a dire predicament—and frighteningly involved.
Did you know that, if you use all capital letters to convey a message, the capital letters come across like shouting? In addition, all capital letters are actually more difficult to read and may annoy the reader. To avoid “shouting” at or annoying your reader, follow the rules of capitalization and find other ways to emphasize your point.
Write a one-page biography. Make sure to identify people, places, and dates and use capitalization correctly.
If there were no pronouns, all types of writing would be quite tedious to read. We would soon be frustrated by reading sentences like Bob said that Bob was tired or Christina told the class that Christina received an A. Pronouns help a writer avoid constant repetition. Knowing just how pronouns work is an important aspect of clear and concise writing.
A pronounA word that substitutes for a noun; for example, I, you, he, she, it, we, or they. is a word that takes the place of (or refers back to) a noun or another pronoun. The word or words a pronoun refers to is called the antecedentThe noun that a pronoun refers to. of the pronoun.
Lani complained that she was exhausted.
Jeremy left the party early, so I did not see him until Monday at work.
Crina and Rosalie have been best friends ever since they were freshman in high school.
Pronoun agreementWhen the pronoun and the antecedent match or agree with each other. errors occur when the pronoun and the antecedent do not match or agree with each other. There are several types of pronoun agreement.
If the pronoun takes the place of or refers to a singular noun, the pronoun must also be singular.
|Singular Pronouns||Plural Pronouns|
|First Person||I||me||my (mine)||we||us||our (ours)|
|Second Person||you||you||your (yours)||you||you||your (your)|
|Third Person||he, she, it||him, her, it||his, her, its||they||them||their (theirs)|
If you use a consistent person, your reader is less likely to be confused.
Edit the following paragraph by correcting pronoun agreement errors in number and person.
Over spring break I visited my older cousin, Diana, and they took me to a butterfly exhibit at a museum. Diana and I have been close ever since she was young. Our mothers are twin sisters, and she is inseparable! Diana knows how much I love butterflies, so it was their special present to me. I have a soft spot for caterpillars too. I love them because something about the way it transforms is so interesting to me. One summer my grandmother gave me a butterfly growing kit, and you got to see the entire life cycle of five Painted Lady butterflies. I even got to set it free. So when my cousin said they wanted to take me to the butterfly exhibit, I was really excited!
Indefinite pronounsDoes not refer to a specific person or thing and is usually singular. do not refer to a specific person or thing and are usually singular. Note that a pronoun that refers to an indefinite singular pronoun should also be singular. The following are some common indefinite pronouns.
|Common Indefinite Pronouns|
Collective nounsA noun that identifies more than one person, place, or thing and treats those people, places, or things as a singular unit. suggest more than one person but are usually considered singular. Look over the following examples of collective nouns.
|Common Collective Nouns|
Complete the following sentences by selecting the correct pronoun. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper. Then circle the noun the pronoun replaces.
Subject pronounsPronoun that functions as the subject in a sentence. function as subjects in a sentence. Object pronounsPronoun that functions as the object of a verb or a preposition. function as the object of a verb or of a preposition.
|Singular Pronouns||Plural Pronouns|
|he, she, it||him, her, it||they||them|
The following sentences show pronouns as subjects:
The following sentences show pronouns as objects:
Note that a pronoun can also be the object of a preposition.
Near them, the children played.
My mother stood between us.
The pronouns us and them are objects of the prepositions near and between. They answer the questions near whom? And between whom?
Compound subject pronounsTwo or more pronouns joined by a conjunction or preposition that function as the subject of the sentence. are two or more pronouns joined by a conjunction or a preposition that function as the subject of the sentence.
The following sentences show pronouns with compound subjects:
Incorrect: Me and Harriet visited the Grand Canyon last summer.
Correct: Harriet and I visited the Grand Canyon last summer.
Correct: Jenna accompanied Harriet and me on our trip.
Note that object pronouns are never used in the subject position. One way to remember this rule is to remove the other subject in a compound subject, leave only the pronoun, and see whether the sentence makes sense. For example, Me visited the Grand Canyon last summer sounds immediately incorrect.
Compound object pronounsTwo or more pronouns joined by a conjunction or preposition that function as the object of the sentence. are two or more pronouns joined by a conjunction or a preposition that function as the object of the sentence.
Incorrect: I have a good feeling about Janice and I.
Correct: I have a good feeling about Janice and me.
It is correct to write Janice and me, as opposed to me and Janice. Just remember it is more polite to refer to yourself last.
In casual conversation, people sometimes mix up subject and object pronouns. For instance, you might say, “Me and Donnie went to a movie last night.” However, when you are writing or speaking at work or in any other formal situation, you need to remember the distinctions between subject and object pronouns and be able to correct yourself. These subtle grammar corrections will enhance your professional image and reputation.
Revise the following sentences in which the subject and object pronouns are used incorrectly. Copy the revised sentence onto your own sheet of paper. Write a C for each sentence that is correct.
Meera and me enjoy doing yoga together on Sundays.
She and him have decided to sell their house.
Between you and I, I do not think Jeffrey will win the election.
Us and our friends have game night the first Thursday of every month.
They and I met while on vacation in Mexico.
Napping on the beach never gets boring for Alice and I.
New Year’s Eve is not a good time for she and I to have a serious talk.
You exercise much more often than me.
I am going to the comedy club with Yolanda and she.
The cooking instructor taught her and me a lot.
Who or whoever is always the subject of a verb. Use who or whoever when the pronoun performs the action indicated by the verb.
Who won the marathon last Tuesday?
I wonder who came up with that terrible idea!
On the other hand, whom and whomever serve as objects. They are used when the pronoun does not perform an action. Use whom or whomever when the pronoun is the direct object of a verb or the object of a preposition.
Whom did Frank marry the third time? (direct object of verb)
From whom did you buy that old record player? (object of preposition)
If you are having trouble deciding when to use who and whom, try this trick. Take the following sentence:
Who/Whom do I consider my best friend?
Reorder the sentence in your head, using either he or him in place of who or whom.
I consider him my best friend.
I consider he my best friend.
Which sentence sounds better? The first one, of course. So the trick is, if you can use him, you should use whom.
Complete the following sentences by adding who or whom. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
Write about what makes an ideal marriage or long-term relationship. Provide specific details to back up your assertions. After you have written a few paragraphs, go back and proofread your paper for correct pronoun usage.
Adjectives and adverbs are descriptive words that bring your writing to life.
An adjectiveA word that describes a noun or a pronoun. is a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. It often answers questions such as which one, what kind, or how many?
She looks beautiful.
An adverbA word that describes a verb, adjective, or other adverb and often ends in -ly. is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs frequently end in -ly. They answer questions such as how, to what extent, why, when, and where.
He threw the ball very accurately.
Complete the following sentences by adding the correct adjective or adverb from the list in the previous section. Identify the word as an adjective or an adverb (Adj, Adv).
ComparativeAdjectives and adverbs used to compare two things. adjectives and adverbs are used to compare two people or things.
Steven is thinner than Jorge.
Form comparatives in one of the following two ways:
SuperlativeAdjectives and adverbs used to compare more than two people or two things. adjectives and adverbs are used to compare more than two people or two things.
Kenyatta was voted the most confident student by her graduating class.
Form superlatives in one of the following two ways:
Remember the following exception: If the word has two syllables and ends in -y, change the -y to an -i and add -est. For example, happy would change to happiest in the superlative form; healthy would change to healthiest.
Edit the following paragraph by correcting the errors in comparative and superlative adjectives.
Our argument started on the most sunny afternoon that I have ever experienced. Max and I were sitting on my front stoop when I started it. I told him that my dog, Jacko, was more smart than his dog, Merlin. I could not help myself. Merlin never came when he was called, and he chased his tail and barked at rocks. I told Max that Merlin was the most dumbest dog on the block. I guess I was angrier about a bad grade that I received, so I decided to pick on poor little Merlin. Even though Max insulted Jacko too, I felt I had been more mean. The next day I apologized to Max and brought Merlin some of Jacko’s treats. When Merlin placed his paw on my knee and licked my hand, I was the most sorry person on the block.
Share and compare your answers with a classmate.
Good, well, bad, and badly are often used incorrectly. Study the following chart to learn the correct usage of these words and their comparative and superlative forms.
Good is always an adjective—that is, a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. The second sentence is correct because well is an adverb that tells how something is done.
Incorrect: Cecilia felt that she had never done so good on a test.
Correct: Cecilia felt that she had never done so well on a test.
Well is always an adverb that describes a verb, adverb, or adjective. The second sentence is correct because good is an adjective that describes the noun score.
Incorrect: Cecilia’s team received a well score.
Correct: Cecilia’s team received a good score.
Bad is always an adjective. The second sentence is correct because badly is an adverb that tells how the speaker did on the test.
Incorrect: I did bad on my accounting test because I didn’t study.
Correct: I did badly on my accounting test because I didn’t study.
Badly is always an adverb. The second sentence is correct because bad is an adjective that describes the noun thunderstorm.
Incorrect: The coming thunderstorm looked badly.
Correct: The coming thunderstorm looked bad.
The following are examples of the use of better and worse:
Tyra likes sprinting better than long distance running.
The traffic is worse in Chicago than in Atlanta.
The following are examples of the use of best and worst:
Tyra sprints best of all the other competitors.
Peter finished worst of all the runners in the race.
Remember better and worse compare two persons or things. Best and worst compare three or more persons or things.
Write good, well, bad, or badly to complete each sentence. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
Write the correct comparative or superlative form of the word in parentheses. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
The irregular words good, well, bad, and badly are often misused along with their comparative and superlative forms better, best, worse, and worst. You may not hear the difference between worse and worst, and therefore type it incorrectly. In a formal or business-like tone, use each of these words to write eight separate sentences. Assume these sentences will be seen and judged by your current or future employer.
Using the exercises as a guide, write your own ten-sentence quiz for your classmate(s) using the concepts covered in this section. Try to include two questions from each subsection in your quiz. Exchange papers and see whether you can get a perfect score.
A modifierA word or phrase that qualifies the meaning of another element in a sentence. is a word, phrase, or clause that clarifies or describes another word, phrase, or clause. Sometimes writers use modifiers incorrectly, leading to strange and unintentionally humorous sentences. The two common types of modifier errors are called misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers. If either of these errors occurs, readers can no longer read smoothly. Instead, they become stumped trying to figure out what the writer meant to say. A writer’s goal must always be to communicate clearly and to avoid distracting the reader with strange sentences or awkward sentence constructions. The good news is that these errors can be easily overcome.
A misplaced modifierA modifier that is placed too far away from the word or words it modifies. is a modifier that is placed too far from the word or words it modifies. Misplaced modifiers make the sentence awkward and sometimes unintentionally humorous.
Incorrect: She wore a bicycle helmet on her head that was too large.
Correct: She wore a bicycle helmet that was too large on her head.
Look at the following two examples:
Incorrect: They bought a kitten for my brother they call Shadow.
Correct: They bought a kitten they call Shadow for my brother.
Incorrect: The patient was referred to the physician with stomach pains.
Correct: The patient with stomach pains was referred to the physician.
Simple modifiers like only, almost, just, nearly, and barely often get used incorrectly because writers often stick them in the wrong place.
Confusing: Tyler almost found fifty cents under the sofa cushions.
Repaired: Tyler found almost fifty cents under the sofa cushions.
On a separate sheet of paper, rewrite the following sentences to correct the misplaced modifiers.
A dangling modifierA word, phrase, or clause that describes or modifies something that has been left out of the sentence. is a word, phrase, or clause that describes something that has been left out of the sentence. When there is nothing that the word, phrase, or clause can modify, the modifier is said to dangle.
Incorrect: Riding in the sports car, the world whizzed by rapidly.
Correct: As Jane was riding in the sports car, the world whizzed by rapidly.
Incorrect: Walking home at night, the trees looked like spooky aliens.
Correct: As Jonas was walking home at night, the trees looked like spooky aliens.
Correct: The trees looked like spooky aliens as Jonas was walking home at night.
Incorrect: To win the spelling bee, Luis and Gerard should join our team.
Correct: If we want to win the spelling bee this year, Luis and Gerard should join our team.
The following three steps will help you quickly spot a dangling modifier:
Look for an -ing modifier at the beginning of your sentence or another modifying phrase:
Painting for three hours at night, the kitchen was finally finished by Maggie. (Painting is the -ing modifier.)
Underline the first noun that follows it:
Painting for three hours at night, the kitchen was finally finished by Maggie.
Make sure the modifier and noun go together logically. If they do not, it is very likely you have a dangling modifier.
After identifying the dangling modifier, rewrite the sentence.
Painting for three hours at night, Maggie finally finished the kitchen.
Rewrite the following the sentences onto your own sheet of paper to correct the dangling modifiers.
Rewrite the following paragraph correcting all the misplaced and dangling modifiers.
I bought a fresh loaf of bread for my sandwich shopping in the grocery store. Wanting to make a delicious sandwich, the mayonnaise was thickly spread. Placing the cold cuts on the bread, the lettuce was placed on top. I cut the sandwich in half with a knife turning on the radio. Biting into the sandwich, my favorite song blared loudly in my ears. Humming and chewing, my sandwich went down smoothly. Smiling, my sandwich will be made again, but next time I will add cheese.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
See how creative and humorous you can get by writing ten sentences with misplaced and dangling modifiers. This is a deceptively simple task, but rise to the challenge. Your writing will be stronger for it. Exchange papers with a classmate, and rewrite your classmate’s sentences to correct any misplaced modifiers.
On your own sheet of paper, identify each sentence as a fragment, a run-on, or correct (no error). Then rewrite the paragraph by correcting the sentence fragments and run-ons.
My favorite book is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, he was born in 1894 and died in 1963 ________. Written in 1931 ________. A futuristic society where humans are born out of test tubes and kept in rigid social classes ________. This may not seem like a humorous premise for a novel, but Huxley uses satire, which is a type of humor that is used to make a serious point ________. The humans in Brave New World learn through sleep teaching, Huxley calls this “hypnopedia” ________. Everyone is kept “happy” in the brave new world by taking a pill called soma, there is one character named John the Savage who does not take soma ________. because he comes from a different part of the world where there is no technology, and he believes in natural ways of living ________. It turns out that John has a big problem with the brave new world and how people live there ________. Will he be able to survive living there, well you will have to read the novel to find out ________. Brave New World is considered a classic in English literature, it is one of the best novels I have ever read ________.
Each sentence contains an error in subject-verb agreement, irregular verb form, or consistent verb tense. Identify the type of error. Then, on your own sheet of paper, rewrite the sentence correctly.
Maria and Ty meets me at the community center for cooking classes on Tuesdays.
John’s ability to laugh at almost anything amaze me.
Samantha and I were walking near the lake when the large, colorful bird appears.
I builded my own telescope using materials I bought at the hardware store.
My mother freezed the remaining tomatoes from her garden so that she could use them during the winter.
Bernard asked the stranger sitting next to him for the time, and she says it was past midnight.
My mother and brother wears glasses, but my father and sister do not.
We held our noses as the skunk runs away.
Neither Soren nor Andrew are excited about the early morning swim meet.
My hands hurted at the thought of transcribing all those notes.
The police questioned the suspect for hours but she gives them no useful information.
Terry takes short weekend trips because her job as a therapist was very emotionally draining.
She criticize delicately, making sure not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Davis winded the old clock and set it atop his nightstand.
Cherie losed four poker hands in a row before realizing that she was playing against professionals.
Janis and Joan describes their trip to the Amazon in vivid detail.
You should decides for yourself whether or not to reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet.
The oil rig exploded and spills millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.
The handsome vampire appeared out of nowhere and smiles at the smitten woman.
The batter swinged at the ball several times but never hit it.
Correct the capitalization errors in the following fictional story. Copy the corrected paragraph onto your own sheet of paper.
lance worthington signed a Recording Contract with Capitol records on june 15, 2007. Despite selling two million copies of his Debut Album, nothing to lose, lance lost quite a bit as his tax returns from the irs revealed. lance did not think it was fair that the Record Company kept so much of his earnings, so he decided to hire robert bergman, a prominent music Attorney with a Shark-like reputation. bergman represented lance all the way to the supreme court, where lance won the case against capitol records. Lance worthington was instrumental in changing intellectual property rights and long standing Record Company practices. All artists and musicians can thank him for his brave stance against record companies. Lance subsequently formed his own independent record label called worthy records. worthy is now a successful Label based out of chicago, illinois, and its Artists have appeared on well known shows such as The tonight show and Saturday night live. Lance worthington is a model for success in the do-it-yourself World that has become the Music Industry.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
Complete the following sentences by selecting the correct comparative or superlative adjective or adverb. Then copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.