We’re finally to the last back to basics post on verbs, the irregular verbs. These are the rule breakers that refuse to follow the same rules as the rest for the different tenses. They can seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry. Although they don’t follow the same rules as most, they do follow their own set.
Let’s start off with the state of being verbs.
Be, am, is, was, and were are all different forms of the same verb, be. Is, am, and was are singular. Are and were are plural. Be itself can work either way, depending on the tense. Are and is are in the present tense. Was and were are past tense verbs.
We’ve talked about what verbs are as well as subject verb agreement, but there is so much more to them. In English, verbs not only say what is being done or how something is, but when the action is happening. To do this, verbs use tenses, which is a type of inflection used to convey additional information within a language.
Simple changes in how a verb is written indicate whether the action is happening now, happened in the past, or will happen in the future.
Although the most common first words for babies are nouns, verbs are arguably the most important words in our language. Without them, none of our sentences would “do” anything because our verbs are the words we have to describe action. Not only that, but words that describe someone or something’s state of being, or how it exists in that moment, are verbs too.
So, no back to basics course would be complete without an article on verbs.
Just like every word must have at least one vowel, a sentence is not a sentence without a verb. In fact, do you remember our definition of a sentence from the simple sentences article back at the beginning? A sentence is a group of words, containing both a subject and a verb that conveys a complete thought. That's pretty much impossible to do without a verb.
Pronouns are words that take the place of more specific nouns. Instead of naming a specific person, place, or thing, a pronoun may be used such as he, she, they, or it. They may be used to make a piece of writing more generic; however, the first rule of good writing should be remembered: clarity over beauty.
Use pronouns only when the noun they are meant to replace is clear. While they can be used to prevent redundancy, replacing most or all of the nouns with pronouns can muddy your meaning. Make sure to leave enough specific nouns in your writing to keep the meaning clear.
Remember how I said Icarus was going on the back burner for a while? Well, I still can't tell all the details about the massive project mostly responsible for the delay. Sorry. However, I've been asked to turn the back to basics grammar and composition course and the creative writing course into full workbooks for a local school.
Considering I've yet to finish writing the back to basics course and need to add lots of exercises, more in depth information, and additional articles to the creative writing workbook, you can imagine how much work this is. That's on its own without this other, larger, project I can't speak about at the moment. So I just plain don't have time to work on drafting Icarus right now, and I won't until these workbooks are finished and off to the printers.
With the more complicated “basic” elements of English grammar out of the way, let’s dive into the nitty gritty. Today’s lesson begins a mini series on parts of speech, which will help you continue to refine the way you utilize the grammar rules we’ve covered so far.
Let’s start with some of the first words we learn, nouns.
Today’s lesson is about one of the least often used punctuation marks, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know when or how to use it. When used properly, colons can add impact, clarity, and conciseness to your writing.
You can think of them like a flashing neon sign that reads, “This is what I’m talking about,” over a section where you clarify a statement you’ve already made. They’re added right before a phrase or list that explains or adds to the sentence before it.
They only had two ways out: fight their way through a small army or risk waking a family of sleeping bears.
There are three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.
In both examples, the colon lets the reader know they’re about to be told exactly what the options are in that instance.
Our next couple of lessons will be about two seldom used but useful punctuation marks, the semicolon and the colon. When used properly, these punctuation marks can give you new ways to tweak the clarity and rhythm of your writing.
Colons and semicolons are two different things!
Although a colon and a semicolon look very similar, their uses are different. You cannot use the two punctuation marks interchangeably. You’ll see exactly why this is once you’ve completed both this lesson and the next one on use of the colon.
Commas are one of the most misused and abused punctuation marks out there. I think part of this is because we’re taught in elementary school that they indicate a pause. This is correct, but people have a tendency to take this a bit too far, including commas whenever and wherever they would pause when speaking. It’s a good enough rule of thumb to get by in a pinch, but you run the risk of overusing them when putting it to practice.
So let’s take a closer look at the comma today. When is it needed, and when is it extra?
Parentheses and brackets are punctuation marks that get misused and abused a lot, especially in the blogging world and fan fiction. If you’re going to use them, make sure you know the rules and avoid a lot of embarrassment on your part and confusion on your readers’ behalf.
First of all, please note most of the rules for parentheses apply to informal writing. They aren’t something you want to use in formal writing except for when giving annotations. For those rules, check the style guide for whichever style you are using to write your paper. The rules for brackets will apply for both formal and informal writing, but they’re almost never needed for informal writing because they apply to quoted material. I mean, how often do you use quotes in informal writing, outside of fiction?
A. B. England is a small business owner, home-schooling mom, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves fantasy, mythology, and all flavors of science fiction.
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