Passive Voice Blues

In the English classes I’ve taught, and there have been many of them over the years, students have generally struggled over the English usage of [tag]the passive voice[/tag].  If, say, I write an active sentence on the board and ask the class to turn it into the passive voice, what I’ll usually get is a past tense sentence.

For instance, change this to passive:  “I eat hamburgers everyday.”

What’s your solution?

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Can’t Escape that Rome Connection

English is not a romance language, meaning its roots aren’t in ancient Rome, but our traditions still date back to the days of Caesar et al. 

Take [tag]Valentine’s Day[/tag]. Despite its naming after Catholic saints (which one is hard to say, for two or more are candidates), Valentine’s Day may have its roots in Lupercalia, Feb. 15, when Roman young men ran through the streets naked.

Then what happened? Read more

Three Steps to Writing Perfection

Okay, the headline/title sounds promising, doesn’t it?

What I’m referring to here are the three parts of a well written piece, and I know this is going to sound rather mundane, but they are–the introduction, body and conclusion.

The point of success comes in how the writer approaches these elements, and that’s why you should read my articles on thesis statements and topic sentences in English Resources.  The [tag]magic of three[/tag] is revealed in these articles.

Notword Addition: 24/7

Okay, the saying “24/7” is not technically a word, but it still qualifies as a [tag]Notword [/tag]since it has become both uniquitous and meaningless.  To wit: During the local morning sports talk radio program, a listener called in and told the host how great he was because he talked about football “24/7.”

Now, what exactly did he mean?  I seriously doubt any living being does anything contiuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except breathe and live.  If he meant “solely,” “a lot,” or “mostly,” Mr. Listener should’ve said that, but we’ve become so inured to bad and sloppy English that Notwords can replace and obfuscate clear English usages.

I say for the next 24 hours, try not to use Notwords.  If not, then stay away from sports radio at least.  You may pick up more bad habits.


Beijing Cleans Up Its English Act

In preparation for the 2008 Olympics being hosted there, [tag]Beijing[/tag] officials have decided to eradicate bad English translations from public venues, including "Deformed Man" for handicapped restrooms and "Show Mercy to the Slender Grass," reports the Wall Street Journal.

For the next eight months, teams of linguistic monitors will scour the city’s nooks and crannies to eradicate bad English usages. (Can they come here next?)

Meanwhile, the site continues to run all manner of English flub-ups in pictorial display from all over Asia. It’s a fun read/view.

Crafting Effective Thesis Statements

I’ve added a second personally written article to my English Resources section, this one dealing with how to focus your writing with a good [tag]thesis statement[/tag].  I’ll be following this up soon with tips on how to use the thesis statement to fill the body of your body in an organized and coherent (and persuasive) fashion.

English Resources Continues to Grow

I’ve added my first personally written article to my new section, English Resources, which is entitled “[tag]The Kitchen Sink Approach to Writing[/tag].”  I’ll be following this up with articles on thesis statements, topic sentences and the five-paragraph paradigm before moving into more creative types of writing.  Enjoy!

Daily Grammar: Tune-Up for English Usage

I found this site yesterday that mails out grammar lessons Monday through Friday and then a quiz on the topics covered on Saturday.  This is a nice way to tune up your [tag]English grammar understanding[/tag] and usage.  The lessons come via e-mail, and I received my first one today, which covered the very simplest basics of pronouns.

If this sounds interesting to you, it’s free and can be signed up for at Daily Grammar.

I’d love to run something similar, but I’m a one-person operation.  Maybe when I’m fully retired, I’ll offer my own version of this.  Meanwhile, enjoy!

Notwords Addition: To Google

You hear a lot of people say, “I googled it,” when referring to the process of finding something via Web search on [tag]Google[/tag].  This certainly works in the vernacular, but come on, google as a verb in a Notword of the first magnitude.  (That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in the dictionaries soon, if not already.)

The first equivalent usage to google as a verb that comes to mind is “to bork,” as in raking someone over the personal integrity coals as the Democrats did to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

What’s next, to iraq?  “We iraqqed that country,” meaning to invade and take over another nation and then get caught in a quagmire.