WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, EH? PART 8: “HELP! I NEED SOMEBODY”…

Paul Mcsomething or other has taken our challenge and has sent in the following rewrite of the famous Beatles’ tune titled ‘8 Days a Week’. Let’s have a REALLY BIG SHOUT-OUT to Paul (who claims he’s a knight and the co-author of “8 Days..”). Yeah! Yeah! Yeah, right! What some folks won’t do to get on this site…Go ahead Sir Paul, let’s hear what you’ve got! Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Paul Mcsomething or other with his new hit…

8 PARTS OF SPEECH

It’s time to parse a sentence,

Maybe even two,

Hope you’ll do it right now,

Just like frog’s shown you.

Go, oh, oh…

B. S., oh yes,

B. P., I see

Ain’t got nothin’ but words yeah

8 Part of Speech…

Nice one Paul (Sir Paul if we really believed you). That should get all the folks in Grammarville (a suburb of Grammarland) stoked. If you’d like to stick around, we’ll do a quickie review of the 8 Parts of Speech. Bring on our acronym!

PAPA VINC

P is for pronouns. To avoid the overuse of nouns, we replace them with pronouns. ‘He’ or ‘him’ could be used in place of ‘Sir Paul’, ‘they’ or them’ could replace ‘Beatles’ (but nobody could ever replace the Fab 4), ‘it’ could be a sub for ‘bloggingfrog’, and on and on. We’ve really only scratched the surface in our study of pronouns. As Randy Bachman (I don’t believe he’s been knighted) put it, “B-b-baby you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” (we’ll excuse his egregious grammar this time).

A is for adjectives. They describe or modify nouns. Good writers always keep a Thesaurus handy so they can choose the most effective adjectives. Why say ‘beautiful’ when you can substitute it for ‘pulchritudinous’? Just ask Steven Tyler. His new book titled ‘Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?’ is filled with a lecherous litany of profundity (you figure it out!).

P is for prepositions. Like Ed Sullivan, prepositions like to introduce acts…in their case, they introduce or start groups of words called phrases. ‘To’, ‘Of’ and ‘In’ are tops in their field…actually they’re among the Top 10 most used words in English. Prepositional phrases (adjective & adverb) do not contain a verb (as you will soon learn, groups of words which modify AND contain a verb are called subordinate clauses).

A is for adverbs. These darlings perform one of three important duties. #1: They modify verbs (indicate ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’ or ‘why’ something happened, happens or will happen and they usually end in ‘ly’). #2 They modify themselves (example: Sir Paul plays very beautifully. ‘beautifully’ is an adverb, telling us ‘how’ Sir Paul plays. ‘very‘ indicates a new level of just ‘how’ beautifully he plays) #3 Finally, adverbs can describe adjectives (example: Sir Paul is extremely talented. ‘talented’ is an adjective used as the subjective completion and ‘extremely’ indicates just ‘how’ talented he is).

V for verbs. Very important words! They indicate the time (tense), the action or they simply connect or link the bare subject with a subjective completion. V = versatile! Go verbs!

I are Interjections (a little grammar humour). Wow! Yikes! Bah! Phooey! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! (Thanks Paulie)…Spice up your life with these emotional blasters! Hockinsmock! (Was that you Mr. Bachman? You’ll never get a knighthood speaking that way.)

N is for nouns. You need a name for something or somebody? You’ve got yourself a noun! They identify people, places and things. Sir Paul, from Liverpool, is a Beatle (No, not a car!.)

C for conjunctions. Coordinate, Subordinate and Correlative if you must know. Simply put, they join words, phrases or clauses. Sir Paul has requested a demonstration for each type and since he did write that lovely song for us, I think it’s only fair.

Example 1: Sir Paul and Randy are terrific musicians. (coordinate conjunction). In this case, there are two bare subjects (Sir Paul & Randy). ‘and’ coordinates or brings the two together.

Example 2: Sir Paul must leave after he finishes this sentence. (subordinate conjunction) Here is your first (but not last) look at a subordinate clause…’after he finishes this sentence’. It’s almost like a complete sentence; it does have its own bare subject (‘he’) and bare predicate ‘finishes’. It cannot, however, stand by itself as a complete thought but try telling that to a Grade 2 student!

Example 3: Neither Paul nor Randy has failed to make it big in the industry. (correlative conjunction)…pairs that go together…other famous correlative conjunctions include either/or, both/and, not only/but also) *****Wow! A 5 star point of information. ‘neither/nor’ and ‘either/or’ can fool a lot of people into choosing the wrong verb (Quit playing with that guitar Paul and pay attention!). Here’s what we mean:

Neither Lily nor Bloggingfrog (is or are?) going to Randy’s concert. Notice that our correlative conjunction (‘neither/nor’) keeps the two singular bare subjects (Lily & Bfrog) apart. Since we are implying that neither is going, then we have but one choice and the correct one is ‘is’ (sorry about the repetition). By the way, the same thing goes when using ‘either/or’. Keep the verb singular UNLESS…one of the bare subjects is plural in which case you use the plural form of the verb. A few examples will help to clarify this important 5 star point…

Either he or she has the information. (‘he’/’she’ are both singular so choose ‘has’ not ‘have’ as your verb.)

Either Tom or his friends have the information. (‘Tom’ is singular; however, ‘friends’ is plural, so we choose the plural form of the verb ‘have’.)

Neither the police officers nor the convict were present. (‘officers’ is plural, ‘convict is singular’ so we say or write ‘were’ – not ‘was’). I repeat: if ‘neither/nor’ or ‘either/or’ connects two bare subjects, one of which is plural, USE THE PLURAL FORM OF THE VERB…

…and before we say ‘ta-ta’ (British for “Get me the heck out of here, old chap!”) remember this last bit of advice:

ALWAYS USE ‘NEITHER’ with ‘NOR and ‘EITHER’ with ‘OR’…It’s like the song of old:

“Love and marriage, love and marriage

Go together like a horse and carriage,

This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other…”

For the record, neither Sir Paul nor Randy is the author of this song. Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote this classic in 1955. Now that was truly a Fab number! Frank Sinatra made it famous.

Enough for today…hope all the people who visit this site are learning as they go. We wouldn’t have it any other way…most of all, we wish that Mankind would learn to share the bounties of our planet…why can’t we all just sit down and enjoy a meal together (and of course discuss the merits of good grammar)…now, back to our ‘pad’…

Bloggingfrog & Lily

p.s. Goodnight knight!

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WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, EH? PART 7: LET IT ‘BE’…


Question: What do the following words have in common? AM, IS, ARE, WAS, WERE, BEEN, ARE BEING, MIGHT HAVE BEEN, SHOULD HAVE BEEN,
 COULD HAVE BEEN…

Answer: They’re a bunch of slackers…so to speak.

In truth, they are what grammarians would call the only true non-action, or linking verbs (some of you Baby Boomers may have been told they are copula verbs…we’ll accept that too!). These verbs are like a lot of teenagers who prefer just to hang out and do as little as possible. The thing is, however, they’re a very important group!

In blog #6, we made brief mention of a ‘subjective completion’. A subject completion (same thing, fewer letters to type) does exactly what it says. It completes (means the same as) or describes the subject (bare subject that is). And where, pray tell, does one find a subject completion? In the predicate, of course!

Please don’t leave! We know it sounds strange but that’s the nature of the King’s English (he too was a bit odd, to say the least)…Actually, when we break it down for you (parse a sentence) it should become quite clear. Like so…

It is she.  It‘ is the subject and bare subject since there are no modifiers. ‘Was’ is the verb but notice it shows no action, rather a state of being. ‘Was’ links or connects the bare subject and ‘she’, which, as you can see, completes or means the same as ‘it’. Et voila, ‘she’ is our subjective completion.

In all likelihood, most people would have used ‘her’, not ‘she’. The clue, however, comes after we parse the sentence and see that the word that follows the non-action verb (‘was’)  completes or means the same as the bare subject..

Quickly…back to your Personal Pronoun Chart…you have two choices: the subjective or objective case of the pronoun (she or her). All signs point to subjective…as in subjective completion. ‘She’ wins!

The same is true for each of the non-action or linking verbs from the above chart.

It was they. (not It was them.) I am he. (not I am him) It might have been I. (not It might have been me.)

There’s more to this subjective completion thing…lots more! It was important to make this brief stop along the way and try to explain the truth about things that sound quite strange (but are true). It’s all about connections isn’t it? “The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone…the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone, and on and on…”

Grammar is anatomy! Analyze that my friends. Go ahead. Pick this three-word sentence apart and see the connections. Shoot for the stars…(“You want the moves like Jagger…I’ve got the moves like Jagger…I’ve got the mooooooooooves like Jagger”). Thanks Maroon 5…we needed that! Okay, here we go:

Grammar‘ is our subject and bare subject (since it stands alone). It comes from the noun family. “is” is the bare predicate (a non-action or linking verb). ‘anatomy‘ is the subjective completion since it follows a non-action verb and completes the subject. It too is a noun.

Fabulous! And speaking of the Fab 4 (who never moved like Jagger) try this one:

For several decades the Beatles have been unbelievably popular. 

Question (Q): Of whom are we speaking? In other words, what is the subject?

Answer (A): ‘The Beatles’.

Q: Which of the two words is the bare subject (most important naming word)?

A: ‘Beatles’ (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahhhhh….)

Q: What word modifies (in this case makes it definite…as in article) the bare subject?

A:  ‘The‘ (duh!)

Q: What is the predicate?

A: ‘have been unbelievably popular for several decades‘ (this statement has been written in split order)

Q: What is the bare predicate?

A: ‘have been‘ (‘been’ is one of those non-action or linking verbs…’have’ is there to give it support and suggest that the Beatles should continue to be popular).

Q: Is there a subject(ive) completion? (hint: where there’s a non-action or linking bare predicate or verb, then chances are there will be a word that completes or describes the subject)

A: ‘popular‘ is the subject completion.

Q: Do any words or groups of words modify the bare predicate? (hint: ask the questions ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’ or ‘why’ and you’ll be able to pick out modifiers.)

A: ‘for several decades’ modifies the bare predicate (tells us ‘when‘ or ‘how’ long‘)

Q: Which word have we not included in our analysis? What is its function?

A: ‘unbelievably‘ tells us ‘how’ popular.

Great! Now that we have broken the sentence into its component or functional parts (parsed the sentence), let’s name each word accordingly. In other words, what part of speech is each word?

For several decades‘ is an adverb phrase. ‘For’ starts the phrase (preposition). ‘several‘ modifies ‘decades’ (adjective). ‘decades‘ is the object of the preposition ‘for’ (noun).

the‘ (definite article belonging to adjective family)

Beatles‘ (noun)

have been‘ (verb phrase…‘have’ is the auxiliary or helping verb and ‘been’ is the main or principal verb)

unbelievably‘ (adverb…adverbs usually end in ‘ly‘ and can describe verbs, other adverbs and in this case, adjectives)

popular‘ (adjective)

“O-bla-di, O-bla-da life goes on brah!” That’s enough for one day but if you are a Beatles’ fan, let’s close today’s ‘show’ with a reworked version of another ‘unbelievably popular’ Fab 4 tune:

It’s been a hard day’s night

And we’ve been parsing like a fool,

Oh such a hard day’s night

Yes, we’ve been to Grammar school,

But we just wanna cry

If we use ‘me’ not ‘I”

Can make us fe-el uptight!…

And with that, we bid you goodnight. If anyone out there in Grammarland would like to try his or her hand at rewriting a Beatles’ classic, we invite you to send us your lyrics to the tune of “Eight Parts of Speech” (8 Days A Week)…Google these tunes if you’ve never heard them…keep smiling,

Bloggingfrog & Lily

WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, EH? PART 2…(THE 8 FARTS OF SPEECH)…

Oops, we’re sorry…must have pressed the wrong key (should read PARTS). Just goes to show you that mistakes (spelling or grammar) can really stink up the joint…

Today, we begin our language journey together. If you pay attention (remember: it costs nothing to pay attention) and make a serious effort, then you WILL improve your spoken and written word. Let us not follow in the footsteps of American poet Carl Sandburg who said, “I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.”

SO, OFF WE GO…but first…

PLEASE  NOTE: There are approximately 250 000 words in the English language (see Oxford English Dictionary for more details). We are welcome to use each and every one of them when we speak, write or just plain think about things.

FURTHERMORE: All of these quarter of a million words are organized into FAMILIES or PARTS OF SPEECH depending of their function or position within a sentence.

FINALLY: There are only 8 PARTS (FAMILIES) OF SPEECH (so it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn their names).

The easiest way?  Memorize the following word: PAPA VINC (which, from this day forward, will serve as our godparent of all the families or parts of speech). Actually, PAPA VINC (which sounds a bit like an Italian godfather), will be our mnemonic (don’t pronounce the ‘m’) device or aid for learning and REMEMBERING the 8 PARTS OF SPEECH (You wouldn’t want to disappoint PAPA VINC now, would you?).

Let’s get started. Keep in mind that our goal is to learn the names of the 8 PARTS OF SPEECH (or FAMILIES OF WORDS) and get an idea what each does. We’ll add more detail as is necessary. Think of our first lesson as looking at a car engine for the first time. We can’t possibly know the names of each of the parts nor how the parts are interconnected. What we must understand, however, is that each PART does have a NAME and a PURPOSE. (All right, let’s peek ‘under the hood’ and get our first look at the engine that drives the English language)…Take it away Papa Vinc!

P is for PRONOUNS.  These words replace nouns and help us avoid unnecessary repetition in sentences. ***Once we get a handle on the mechanics of sentence structure, you will know when to use ‘I’ or ‘me’, ‘who’ or ‘whom’, ‘its’ or ‘it’s’. The Pronoun Family is a big one as you will learn later.

A is for ADJECTIVES. They describe (modify or limit) nouns. Examples: beautiful, evil, large, freckled, awful. Adjectives, well used, can spice up or tone down communication.

P is for PREPOSITIONS. They start or introduce phrases. Examples: to, on, of, for, from. Learning how to recognize prepositions, and thus phrases, will help us to choose the correct pronoun which often follows (‘I’ vs. ‘me’).

A is for  ADVERBS. They describe (modify or limit) verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. Most adverbs end in ‘ly’ and indicate how, when, where, or why something happens or happened. Like adjectives, they can breathe life (or death) into any sentence.

V is for VERBS. They indicate an action or a state of being and are the heart of any sentence. Examples: jump, ran, is, were, think, seem. Being able to recognize the difference between action or state of being verbs will make help us to determine the correct follower.

I is for INTERJECTIONS: They express emotions or sentiment. Examples: Wow! Whew! Ouch! Kaboom! (Go get ’em Batman!)

N is for NOUNS. They name people, places and things. Nouns and verbs love to hang out together. Take any noun ( or pronoun), add a verb and bingo, a complete thought (sentence) is born. Examples: rain, men, women, Bob, Paris, city, cat. Nouns (or pronouns) and verbs are the mechanical basis of English (subject/predicate).

C is for  CONJUNCTIONS.  Conjunctions link or join words, phrases or clauses. Examples: and, but, although, however, because. As you will learn later, conjunctions can compound matters or create complexity in sentences.

There you have it: THE 8 PARTS OF SPEECH! To review: Pronouns, Adjectives, Prepositions, Adverbs, Verbs, Interjections, Nouns, Verbs…THE 8 PARTS OF SPEECH OR FAMILIES OF WORDS…

***BEFORE WE GO TOO FAR, LET’S GET ONE THING STRAIGHT. 

Language can be spoken or written on different levels. It really depends on a given situation. Most of us communicate using colloquial or informal language in which the rules of formal language are somewhat relaxed, or, in the case of slang, egregiously (how’s that for an adverb?) ignored. No one really cares if it’s ‘who’ or ‘whom’, ‘he’ or ‘him’ and so on; that is, until one finds him or herself in a situation (i.e. writing a resume) where proper spelling or grammar is expected and, in some cases, demanded. Therefore, it is very important to be able to communicate on every level…don’t you agree?

Let’s take a peek at the three levels using the ever-popular ‘Knock, Knock’ joke format:

First, on the slang level…

Knock, Knock…

Who dat?

Me! You mother-fu..er! Open dis god-d..n door!

(Hmmm, a bit sloppy, wouldn’t you say?)

Now, we switch to the colloquial level…

Knock, Knock…

Who’s there?

It’s me bonehead! Open the friggin’ door!

(Ahhh, the sweet sound of street talk.)

Finally, we reach the top or formal level…

Knock, Knock…

May I ask who is there?

It is I, your beloved friend. Would you kindly unlock the door?

(Yes, it is does sound a tad alien but ‘I’, not ‘me’ is the proper choice)

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you again soon at which time we’ll get into the mechanics of language. This is when you’ll truly begin to understand how the English language works.  See you again soon…and do keep in touch!

Bloggingfrog & Lily