Is ‘The Dog Jumps’ a Complete English Sentence? Sometimes….

English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, as it is built around a series of rules that have exceptions to almost every rule. This can make learning the basic principles behind English difficult and confusing.

However, for those in need of grammar help, for instance, those learning English as a second language, there are a few things that you can do to help improve your skills with the English language. First, you need to learn to focus on one aspect of the English language at a time. At the basic level, you need to remember only two things. These are basic sentence structure and word choice.

Every sentence needs a subject as well as a purpose. For example, “A dog jumps.” is often viewed as an incomplete sentence (depending on context). While we know that there is a dog, and the dog is jumping, we do not know what the dog is jumping over. Thus, “A dog jumps over a fence.” is a correct example of a basic sentence. It has the three needed components of a sentence. The subject, what the subject is doing, and how it is being done. Most sentences in the English language are built on this principle.

As you advance through the English language, you will be more likely to require grammar help. This is due to the fact that basic sentences are short and simple. They require little vocabulary to use, and little in the way of complex structure. When you progress beyond the basics, you will need an extensive vocabulary as well as a good feel for how rules relate to one another. 

Grammar help can be found in many forms. You can join websites that provide information on the English language, make use of grammar tests and quizzes, as well as download programs that can help you identify what you are doing wrong. By studying and researching outside of class time, you can quickly improve your language skills.

You can also get English grammar help by holding conversations with people in English. Practice is a fundamental part of learning English. If you hold a conversation with someone who speaks English, as well as your native tongue, they can correct you in both English as well as your native language. This can go a far way in quickly improving your skills.

When Submitting Articles, Perfection Is Just About Expected

When reading an important manuscript, every discerning editor should always take note of the usual errors and problems that may be spread throughout the entire composition. Some editors instantly return the copies for revising after discovering screaming grammar errors and content distortions in the initial pages. Most writers get too occupied that they overlook poor grammar and usage, misspellings, typographical errors, improper punctuation, and other problems. These are what stick out to editors.

Most copies and manuscripts are not approved for publishing after submission. Editors require revisions to make sure the compositions are impeccable. Many writers strive to lessen possible problems for revisions. The best approach is to eliminate all potential problems.

Poor grammar is the top problem writers and editors face. Every sentence should be grammatically correct so that the message would be conveyed most effectively. Most editors are strict when it comes to grammar because they assume that all writers are already adept and careful when it comes to such. No editor would ever let poor grammar go without correction. There is an exception to this. If the improper grammar is within a character dialogue or within exact words of genuine quotations, then it should be written as it is.

Here are some others of the most usual problems editors note that prompt them to seek revisions or worse, totally reject a copy:

Redundancy mirrors coherence and consciousness of the writer. No reader would be appreciative of a copy that is full of redundant ideas. The space should be used wisely and efficiently. Repeating of ideas should be avoided, unless there is a strong emphasis. Redundancy could also be observed in improper use of words. Examples are repeat again, period of time, refer back, past experience, free gift, and the like.

Improper paragraphing occurs when paragraphs are either too long or are improperly separated. As rule of thumb, make sure there is only one idea tackled in a single paragraph. Good paragraphs are also almost always about three to five sentences long. Ten sentences in a paragraph may be uneasy to the eyes and detrimental to the idea.

Erroneous facts are considered mortal sins in writing. Proper and adequate care should be accorded when including important information and facts in the composition. Accuracy always matters. Any writer should make sure data are well researched so that readers will not be confused or misled. It is the responsibility of editors to make sure such errors do not happen, but it is also the responsibility for any writer to make sure erroneous facts are avoided in the first place.

Punctuation errors are as grievous as grammar mistakes. This is because punctuations play a critical role in readers’ comprehension and smooth reading. There should be no jerky stops and starts. Writers are expected to have already mastered the use of periods, questions marks, commas, exclamation points, and apostrophes. There are many other punctuation marks that are involved. But experts advise writers to stay away, as much as possible, from parentheses, colons, and dashes, if they aim to significantly avoid possible mistakes.

Five Common Word and Usage Confusions in English

Blogging, like good copywriting, should always be in a conversational style. There is a need to be personal and to communicate as if the blogger is addressing a close friend. This does not mean grammar errors would be excused and neglected. Many blogs fail to attain and secure the credibility they aim due to the writers’ inability to avoid and correct common grammatical pitfalls. The following common errors, observed often in blogs, also seem to be part and parcel of the modern post-Internet English grammar mindset.

It is obvious that many writers routinely end many sentences with prepositions, improperly use punctuation marks, or dangle modifiers inappropriately. Such grammar and usage mistakes often detract credibility. If you want more people to take your writing seriously, prevent these five common and dumb mistakes in writing. 

First, be mindful of the use of your and you’re. Remember that your is strictly a possessive pronoun, whereas you’re is a contraction of you are. You should not say "Your a beautiful person," or "I want to see you’re pet." Many writers overlook this. The result, many readers are offended as they they're being taken as dumb people. Many writers also fail to command respect and credibility because of the constant appearance of this problem. I can't tell you how many e-mail responses to my "Thank you" come back "Your welcome." Ugh!

Second, avoid being troubled by the use of it’s and its. To avoid  this common mistake, think through the message you intend to say. It’s is a strict contraction of it is or it has, so use it as such. On the other hand, its is a mere possessive pronoun (third person). To help you prevent this mistake, read aloud your sentence and use it is to replace it’s or its. Doing so could help you identify the presence of any problem in your copy. 

Third, do not use there instead of their. Both are pronouns, but they are of different uses, though they may sound the same. There should be used as a reference (as in "Put the book there.") and as a pronoun (as in "There is the object of your desire.") Their is the plural form of possessive pronoun (third person). You say "Their class was suspended," instead of "There class was suspended." This could be very simple, but amazingly, many writers frequently commit the same mistake. 

Fourth, observe the proper use of affect and effect. This could be a little confusing, so it is not surprising that many writers are caught in this web of trouble. Take a moment to reconsider your sentence to make sure you are using the words appropriately and correctly. Affect is used as a verb, while effect is its noun form, generally. To illustrate: "The power interruption would affect the flow of the meeting." "The possible effect of the power interruption is not known to many."

Lastly, observe the dangling principle if you want to make sure your blog is free from any grammar problem. This could also be confusing because use of dangling modifiers surely could be troublesome, to begin with. This mistake damages correct flow of writing and affects overall comprehensibility. To illustrate, take this sentence as example: "After rotting in the attic for days, my sister threw some of the mangoes." The sentence when taken literally could mean the sister rotted for days, instead of the mangoes. To correct this, you should say, "My sister threw some of the mangoes that have already rotten in the attic."

Subject-Verb Agreement Using ‘Each’

By Mary W. Ng

Subject-verb agreement errors are common in writing, and they reflect poorly on the writer.  If you do not want to make any such error, you must not only understand the mechanics of subject-verb agreement but also be aware of some special cases of subject-verb agreement.

Today I'd like to talk about two cases of subject-verb agreement, both involving the pronoun each.

Look at these two sentences:
    •    Each of you are a part of history.
    •    Each of you is a part of history.

Google shows 85 million results for the search term 'each of you are' and 13 million results for 'each of you is'.  So, who is correct, the majority or the minority?

Well, the subject is the pronoun phrase each of you; the simple subject is the pronoun each (meaning each one), which takes a singular verb.  In case you forgot or didn't know, the simple subject is the noun or pronoun that remains when the subject is stripped of other words.  The majority is not always right.

Now look at these two sentences:
    •    They each have something special.
    •    They each has something special.

Google reports 34 million results for the search term 'they each have' and 11 million results for 'they each has'.  So, who is correct this time, the majority or the minority?
Well, this time the majority is correct, but there is a reason for it.  The subject they is plural and takes a plural verb.  The pronoun each has no effect on the number of the subject; each functions as an appositive, giving additional information about the subject.

When you proofread your writing to check for subject-verb agreement errors, remember that the verb must agree with the subject or the simple subject.  In most cases, interrupting words, that is, words between the subject and the verb, are mere distractions.

Mary W. Ng is the author of two grammar e-books, Focus on Grammar: Subject-Verb Agreement and Focus on Grammar: Parallel Constructions.  Sample reads are available at www.aimpublishing.com.  The website also provides information on spelling rules of verbs, word usage and grammatical errors.

Whatever Happened to the Pronoun ‘Me’?

Either there's a collective ignorance spreading or people are afraid to use the pronoun me to refer to themselves.

I hear a lot of people say dumb, ungrammatical things like "between him and I" and "Sally and myself went downtown."

The first-person accusative form of the singular pronoun I is and always has been me.

One cannot substitute a reflexive pronoun such as myself for a regular pronoun such as I or me. It has to be coupled with one of those to reflect upon it.

For instance, "Sally prefers spaghetti, but I myself would rather eat lasagna." You can leave out myself in this sentence if you like, but you cannot substitute it for I.

The Nice Thing About Old Age…

The best thing about old age, I've recently discovered, is that you don't have to worry about your lifelong fears anymore. They all come true, so you can leave your paranoia and nightmares behind you. But…a big but…you have to deal with the reality of your fears-come-true. Ah, life.

‘Whatever’ Voted Most Annoying Word, but I Nominate the Overused ‘Awesome’

A Marist poll (don't they have better things to do?) has revealed that Americans find whatever to be the most annoying word used in everyday English.

Nearly 39 percent of 1,020 Americans questioned in the survey deemed it the most irritating word, followed by like with 28 percent and the phrase you know what I mean at 15 percent.

I guess whatever can be viewed as dismissive if not downright disdainful depending on the manner in which it's spoken.

However, I nominate awesome, which is overused, abused, and basically meaningless. It's more like a grunt than a statement.

Whatever, I guess it doesn't matter what I think.

Vuvuzela Joins New Words in Oxford Dictionary of English Language

(Stolen shamelessly–and corrected grammatically–from a Reuters report)

Vuvuzela (the ubiquitous plastic trumpet ever-present at the recently concluded World Cup) is among 2,000 new words and phrases added to the third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, published on Thursday, Aug. 20. The dictionary is compiled from the analysis of two billion words used in everything from novels to Internet message boards.

The credit crunch features heavily in this year's additions, with terms such as "overleveraged," having taken on too much debt, and "quantitative easing," the introduction of new money in to the money supply by the central bank, among those included.

"Staycation," a holiday spent in one's home country, and "bargainous," costing less than usual, also reflect the hot topic of belt-tightening among consumers during the economic downturn.

The rise of "social media," itself a new term, has spawned several additions, including "defriend," removing someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site, and "tweetup," a meeting organized via posts on Twitter. Other words include:

  • Bromance: a close but non-sexual relationship between two men
  • Buzzkill: a person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect
  • Cheeseball: lacking taste, style or originality
  • Chillax: calm down and relax
  • Frenemy: a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry
  • Interweb: the Internet
  • Wardrobe malfunction: an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as result of an article of clothing slipping out of position.

Final Nail in Journalism’s Coffin

If the blogosphere and gritty online "citizen journalists" hadn't already exposed the dearth and death of mainstream journalism (and its crass manipulation of reality), then last night's ESPN special called, if I recall correctly, "The Decision," certainly put the final nail in the coffin.

I'm referring, of course, to that overblown, downright insulting one-hour TV special on basketball star LeBron James's decision on where to play next season.

Not only did James expose himself as a hallow, shallow, unable-to-think big nothing, but interlocutor Jim Gray cemented his place in journalistic history as perhaps the biggest ethical and professional sell-out (I wanted to use the "w" word, so go ahead and fill in the final four letters of that word) of all time.

If I were still in journalism school (thankfully, that was decades ago), I'd drop out and pursue a more honorable career in, say, propaganda, er, public relations. At least in that profession you're expected to pimp for others and get paid for it.

June 16, Bloomsday: James Joyce Fans Celebrate in Dublin and Everywhere

The most celebrated novel of the 20th century, Ulysses, and its author, James Joyce, are celebrated each June 16 on what's called "Bloomsday."

The "Bloom" part comes from the central character in Ulysses, who was named Leopold Bloom, and the date from the day in which the novel's 24-hour narration takes place, June 16, 1904.

Bloomsday is celebrated widely in Dublin, setting of the novel, and truly in spots around the world wherever there are fans of Joyce and his writings.

The Dublin festivities include pub crawls, which tend to incline me toward celebrating the occasion in that Irish city.

Maybe I can make it there in 2011.