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Copy of Basic English, Part One
Transcript of Copy of Basic English, Part One
After all, nobody checks our grammar when we talk, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Sometimes it seems like writing well is just a game. You roll the dice and try to put all the grammar bits together in the right way, then, if you gambled correctly, you get an A on your upcoming quiz. In reality, grammar IS a little bit like a game, but without the gambling part. You do need to know how to put the parts together the right way to win the game, but the stakes are a little bit higher than making an A on a quiz.
Maybe you're trying to make a point. Look at these signs.
These people are trying to make a point, but they can't be taken seriously because they obviously haven't mastered the English language themselves.
This guy is trying to make a point about government spending. But the point is lost because the first thing we notice is his bad spelling.
How smart do we assume the person who runs this tattoo parlor is? The sign should read "Tattoos," after all.
What about the guy who put this cracker box together? Would you buy these?
Maybe you're ready for a job that pays a lot, because you have a lot of bills or you want to buy that new Porsche.
Oh, wow, ouch. Do you think the guy who can't spell and who uses terrible grammar is going to get the good job, or is the fellow behind the desk going to hire the person who can, in fact, spell and use good grammar?
In Part One of your book, English Essentials, we will be looking at fifteen basic skills. The first couple of these skills are:
Parts of Speech
Subjects and Verbs
Let's look at Parts of Speech. There are eight parts:
A noun names something: a person, place, object, or idea. Here are some examples.
Help me come up with four more nouns:
There are a couple different kinds of nouns: common and proper. Proper nouns are names. Which of the examples we just looked at are proper nouns?
Parts of Speech: Practice I (p. 27)
Insert any appropriate noun into each of the following blanks
1. The shoplifter stole a(n)_______________ from the department store.
2. _____________ threw the football to me.
3. Tiny messages were scrawled on the ___________.
4. A(n) _____________ crashed through the window.
5. Give the ___________ to Ellen.
Nouns can be singular or plural. Plural nouns refer to two or more persons, places, objects, or ideas. Most singular nouns can be made plural with the addition of an s.
Make the singular nouns plural.
Parts of Speech: Practice 2
Underline the three nouns in each sentence.
Some are singular, some are plural.
1. Two bats swooped over the heads of the frightened children.
2. The artist has purple paint on her sleeve.
3. The lost dog has fleas and a broken leg.
4. Gwen does her homework in green ink.
5. Some farmers plant seeds by moonlight.
If you guessed that the person who can both speak and write well is more likely to get the good job, you're probably right. Does that mean that the person who can speak and write well is actually smarter?
No. But it does mean that he or she can communicate more effectively.
Our largest single goal, then, is to be an effective communicator.
Maybe it's easier to think of all the bits and pieces of English grammar like they're legos. After all, we put parts of speech together, kind of like legos. And when we put them together correctly, just like legos, we can make something really nice.
Let's look at some examples of putting the pieces together incorrectly.
A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun.
Pronouns eliminate the need for constant
repetition. Look at the following sentences:
The phone rang, and Bill answered the phone.
Lisa met Lisa's friends in the record store. Lisa met Lisa's friends there every Saturday.
The waiter rushed over to the new customers. The new customers asked the waiter for menus and coffee.
Now look at how much clearer and smoother the sentences sound with pronouns.
The phone rang, and Bill answered it.
Lisa met her friends at the mall record store. She meets them there every Saturday.
The waiter rushed over to the new customers. They asked him for menus and coffee.
Here is a list of common personal pronouns:
I you he she
it we they us
them my yours his
hers our theirs
Parts of Speech: Practice 3
Fill in each blank with the appropriate personal pronoun.
1. Andrew feeds his pet lizard every day before school. _____________ also gives _____________ flies every afternoon
2. The female reporter interviewed the striking workers. ___________ told _______________ about their demand for higher wages and longer breaks.
3. Students should save all their returned tests. ___________ should also keep ___________ review sheets.
4. The pilot announced that we would fly through some air pockets. ____________________ said that we should be past _________________ soon.
5. Randy returned the calculator to Shieda last Friday. But Sheila insists _____________ never got ______________ back.
Types of pronouns
Personal pronouns can act in a sentence as subjects, objects, or possessives.
Singular: I, me, my, mine, you, yours, etc.
Plural: we, us, o ur ours, you, you, yours, etc.
Relative pronouns refer to someone or something already mentioned in the sentence.
who, whose, whom, which, that
Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions.
who, whose, whom, which, what
Demonstrative pronouns are used to point out particular persons or things.
this, that, these, those
Reflexive pronouns are those than end in -self or -selves.
For more information on pronouns, see pages 30, 196-204, and 205-214.
Every complete sentence must contain at least one verb. There are two types of verbs: action verbs and linking verbs.
Action verbs tell what is being done in a sentence. Find the verbs in the following examples:
Mr. Jensen swatted at the bee with his hand.
Rainwater poured into the storm drain.
The children chanted the words to the song.
Parts of Speech: Practice 4
Insert an appropriate word into each blank. That word will be an action verb; it will tell what is happening in the sentence.
1. The surgeon____________ through the first layer of skin.
2. The animals in the cage __________ all day.
3. An elderly woman on the street _________ me for directions.
4. A man in the restaurant ____________ to the waitress.
5. Our instructor _____________ our papers over the weekend.
Linking verbs link (or join) a noun to something that is said about it. For example, look at the following sentence:
The clouds are steel gray.
What is the linking verb here?
Common linking verbs include:
am, appear, become, feel, is, look, seem, sound, was, and were.
See page 38 for more information, and also pages 249-250.
Parts of Speech: Practice 5
Into each slot, insert one of the following linking verbs: am, feel, is, look, were. Use each linking verb once.
1. The important papers ______________ in a desk drawer.
2. I ______________ anxious to get my test back.
3. The bananas _______________ ripe.
4. The grocery store _________ open until 11 pm.
5. Whenever I ____________ angry, I go off by myself to calm down.
Let's discuss another kind of verb: the helping verb. Helping verbs help other verbs, like the name implies. Sometimes the verb of a sentence consists of more than one word. In these cases, the main verb will be joined by one or more helping verbs.
The basketball team will be leaving for their game at six o'clock.
In this sentence, the main verb is leaving. The helping verbs are will and be.
Other helping verbs include can, could, do, has, have, may, must, should, and would.
For more information about helping verbs, see pp. 38-47, 251-252, 263-271, and 275-276.
Parts of Speech: Practice 6
Into each slot, insert one of the following verbs: does, must, should, could, has been.
1. You _________ start writing your paper this weekend.
2. The victim ____________ describe her attacker in great detail.
3. You ___________ rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher.
4. My neighbor ________________ arrested for drunk driving.
5. The bus driver _______________ not make any extra stops.
Let's shift gears and discuss another of the eight parts of speech:
A preposition is a word that connects a noun or a pronoun to another word in a sentence. Here's an example:
A man in the bus was snoring loudly.
In is a preposition. It connects the noun bus to man.
Usually a preposition shows relationship. Take a box as an example.
You can put stuff in a box, beside a box, under, around, behind, and
near a box.
Here is a list of common prepositions (from p. 32):
about before down like
to above behind during
of toward across below
except off under after
beneath beside for on
up among beside from
over with around between
in since without at
by into through
Every preposition has an object. In plain old boring language, the noun or pronoun that a preposition connects to another word in the sentence is called the object of the preposition. The group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with its object is called a prepositional phrase. Which words from our earlier example are the prepositional phrase?
Let's practice finding more prepositions and prepositional phrases.
An ant was crawling up the teacher's leg.
The man with the black mustache left the restaurant quickly.
The plant on the windowsill was a present from my mother.
You did notice that there are two prepositional phrases in one of the sentences, right?
For more on prepositions, see pp. 40, 60-69, and 246.
Parts of Speech: Practice 7
Into each slot, insert one of the following prepositions:
of, by, with, in, without. Use each preposition once.
1. The letter from his girlfriend had been sprayed __________ perfume.
2. The weedkiller quickly killed the dandelions _____________ our lawn.
3. ______________ giving any notice, the tenant moved out of the apartment.
4. Donald hungrily ate three scoops ___________ ice cream and an order of French fries.
5. The crates ____________ the back door contain glass bottles and old newspapers.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun. Look at the following sentence:
The dog lay down on a mat in front of the fireplace.
Now look at this sentence when adjectives have been inserted.
The shaggy dog lay down on a worn mat in front of the fireplace.
Adjectives add spice to our writing. They also help us to identify particular people, places, or things.
An adjective can be found in two places:
1) BEFORE the word it describes
2) AFTER a linking verb
As you recall, linking verbs are usually forms of "to be," but also include feel, look, sound, smell, taste, appear, seem and become.
Can you come up with an example of placing an adjective before the word it describes and after a linking verb?
Parts of Speech: Practice 8
Write any appropriate adjective in each blank.
1. The _____________ pizza was eaten greedily by the ____________________
2. Melissa gave away the sofa because it was ________ and ______________.
3. Although the alley is ___________ and _______________ lonely , Karen often takes it as a shortcut home.
4. The restaurant throws away lettuce that is _________________ and tomatoes that are ___________________.
5. When I woke up in the morning, I had a(n) ______________ fever and a(n) ________ throat.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Many adverbs end in the letters "ly."
Can you spot the adverbs in these sentences?
The chef yelled angrily at the young waiter.
My mother has an extremely busy schedule on Tuesdays.
The sick man spoke very faintly to his loyal nurse.
Did you notice that there are two adverbs in the last sentence?
There are some adverbs that do not end in "ly." Very, often, never, always, and well are examples. You can see how the word very functions as an adverb in the last sentence.
Parts of Speech: Practice 9
Write any appropriate adverb in each slot.
1. The water in the pot boiled ___________.
2. Carla ____________ drove the car through _____________ moving traffic.
3. The telephone operator _______________ to the young child.
4. The game show contestant waved ___________ to his family in the audience.
5. Wes _______________ studies, so it's no surprise that he did ___________ poorly on his finals.
Conjunctions are words that connect.
There are two types of conjunctions, coordinating and subordinating.
First, let's focus on coordinating conjunctions (joining words).
Coordinating conjunctions join two equal ideas.
Look at the following sentence:
Kevin AND Steve interviewed for the job, BUT their friend Anne got it.
In this sentence, the coordinating conjunction AND connects the proper nouns Kevin and Steve. The coordinating conjunction BUT connects the first part of the sentence to the second part. On p. 35 in your book, you have a list of coordinating conjunctions. A handy acronym for helping remember them is "FANBOYS."
Parts of Speech: Practice 10
Write a coordinating conjunction in each slot. Choose from the following: and, but, so, or, nor. Use each conjunction once.
1. Either Jerome _______ Alex scored the winning touchdown.
2. I expected roses for my birthday, _____ I received a vase of plastic tulips from the dollar tree instead.
3. The cafeteria was serving liver and onions for lunch, _____ I bought a sandwich from the deli.
4. Marian brought a pack of playing cards _____ a pan of brownies to the picnic.
5. Neither my sofa ______ my armchair matches the rug in my living room.