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Grammar Guide for Teachers

*1*SIN and SYNTAX

Look in any grammar textbook, and you will find the simplest and most vapid sentences with no context, no style, none of the rhetorical elements that characterized grammar in the Greek and Roman origins of grammar teaching. Consider:
  • Bob threw the ball over the house.
  • Judy wrote to her mother.
  • The tiny kitten hissed at the big dog.
  • The carpenter's price sounded reasonable.
You get the idea. A "dummy" sentence made up to illustrate an aspect of sentence structure.

Contrast this to sentences that were written to say something in the real world:

  • You reap what you sow.
  • Half a loaf is better than none.
  • He not busy being born is busy dying.
  • All great truths begin as blasphemies.
  • Letting people in is largely a matter of not expending the energy to keep them out.
  • If you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs.
Sources for such authentic sentences include *1*quotations, *1*haiku, *1*epigrams, *1*proverbs, limericks, *1*bumper stickers, *1*short poems, *1*one-liners, Yo Mama Jokes and selected passages from literature. Constance Hale has written Sin and Syntax (Broadway Books, 1999) using literary and newspaper sentences to illustrate grammatical and style points.
Using sentences with sense works with any of the approaches described in the sites below. The infusion of meaning into all the skills work and standardized test preparation is needed to counter the literal dumbing down effect of much that is currently taking place in public education. We don't need to "sentence our students to death."

  1. *1*Grammar teaching and writing skills: the research evidence
  2. *1*The Role Of Grammar In Improving Student's Writing
  3. Teaching Composition: Research on Effective Practices
  4. Sentence-Combining--Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
  5. Sentence-Combining in Grade Eight
  6. Sentence Completion Exercises for the Art of Self-Discovery
  7. Neuro-Semantics® -- Ways for working with sentences that explore and model human excellence through transformative language experiences.
  8. Teaching Grammar (in the Context of Writing)
  9. The Jabberwocky Exercise
  10. The Editing and Rewriting Process I can't write five words but that I change seven. ~Dorothy Parker
  11. Guide to Grammar and Writing
  12. Grammar Links
  13. A Grammar for Reading and Writing -- Dan Kirkland's amazing page!
  14. The Writing Den's Sentences, Paragraphs and Essays
  15. Common Errors in English -- A useful and enlightening site
  16. Dictionary for Students (Merriam-Webster)
  17. Dictionary and Thesaurus (Merriam-Webster)
  18. Vocabulary University
  19. Academic Vocabulary List
  20. Vocabulary and Spelling
  21. An Abundance of Word Info about English-Vocabulary Sources -- Roots and suffixes from Latin and Greek are key to advanced vocabulary.
  22. Free Spelling Course -- "This free, thirty unit spelling course has been made available courtesy of Marie Rackham, author and producer of The Basic Cozy Grammar Course, The Basic Cozy Punctuation Course and The Cozy Classroom CD."
  23. 20 Most Common Errors
  24. Language Sites on the Internet
  25. Parts of Speech -- Use this to learn and review Eight Parts of Speech
  26. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation -- Note the Two areas, Grammar and Punctuation, by clicking on the topic in the left margin.
  27. Diagramming Sentences
  28. Diana Hacker Online
  29. The OWL at Purdue: Grades 7-12 Instructors and Students
  30. University of Michigan Online Writing Lab: Online Writing Resources


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