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!

WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, EH? PART 4: SYNTAX: THE PRICE YOU’LL PAY FOR BAD SPELLING & GRAMMAR!

Oh, we hope we haven’t given the government any crazy ideas about raising revenue! It was a joke, a play on words if you will…

Syntax is a real word. It refers to the correct placement and use of words in a sentence. I like the architectural definition of the word: a connected or orderly system: harmonious arrangement of parts or elements…a bit like the old adage “a place for everything and everything has its place”…let’s leave it at that!

We have learned thus far that a complete thought (sentence) requires a subject (naming word) and a predicate (telling word).

The subject of a sentence can come from one of two of the 8 part of speech:  noun or a pronoun. The predicate is always a verb.

FUNCTION AND NAME! As we begin to parse, analyze, or take a sentence apart (thus realizing the ‘harmonious arrangement of these parts or elements’), we first look at what a word (or group of words) does/do in a sentence and then choose its appropriate name from the 8 parts of speech. That’s all there is to it!

Are you ready to parse a sentence? Of course you are! Here’s your first complete thought (sentence): From this point on, we shall put the predicate part of any sentence in italics.

Astronauts fly.

The word ‘astronauts’ is our naming word and hence the subject of the sentence. It tells of whom we are speaking.  It’s a noun (people, places, things).

The word ‘fly’ is our telling word and is the predicate. It’s a verb.

Ta da! We just parsed our first sentence together. We took a noun (subject) and a verb (predicate) and created a complete thought. Here’s a variation:

They fly.

This is the same thought but we’ve used the pronoun ‘they’ to replace ‘astronauts’. No big deal. Remember that pronouns often replace nouns to avoid unnecessary repetition.

We could give you a thousand more examples of two-word sentences but we’ve chosen  otherwise. Let’s just be happy with ‘Astronauts fly.’ It is a complete thought but it is rather basic, wouldn’t you agree? Okay, so all we have to do is bring in a modifier or two. Let’s choose a word to modify or describe ‘astronauts’.

Brave astronauts fly.

Cool! Brave is a good descriptor or modifier of ‘astronauts’. Think back for a sec…which family or part of speech describes nouns? (The clock ticks…) Adjective is correct!

Please note that our subject is now two words: brave astronauts. However, only one of these words is the actual naming word and that word is ‘astronauts’. From now on, we’ll refer to the main naming word as the bare subject. Sounds kinky but if a writer or speaker cannot perform this simple (though, at times, confusing) task, then mistakes will be made. Look at the following example:

One of the brave astronauts (fly or flies?).

Fly or flies is the question. Which verb is correct? Our subject is now ‘one of the brave astronauts’ and we have two naming words: ‘one’ (a pronoun) and ‘astronauts’ (a noun). Only one of these words is the bare subject and if you picked the word ‘one’ then give yourself a pat on the back. Logic would tell us that we are speaking about a single astronaut and thus we would need the single form of the verb. This gets us into what is known in Grammarland as subject/verb agreement and for those who are not aware or who don’t give a toot will often land in Boobooville. Subject/verb agreement will be covered in greater detail later. Now back to our regularly-scheduled programme…

Brave astronauts often fly into outer space.

We’ve added a couple of modifiers to the predicate ‘often’ and ‘into outer space’. However, ‘fly’ is the most important as it indicates the action taken by the brave astronauts. Thus, ‘fly’ is our bare predicate. The word ‘often’ tells us when the astronauts fly and ‘into outer space’ tell us where they fly. Which family or part of speech describes or modifies verbs? Correctomongo…adverbs is the answer!

Now would be the appropriate time to tell you about phrases (the real reason so many people err)…From the above example (which, by the way, is a phrase), ‘into outer space’ tells us where those brave astronauts fly. They are an inseparable group of words, which, as the word inseparable implies, cannot be used individually to describe the bare predicate (verb). Inseparable groups of words such as these are called phrases and in this case ‘into outer space’ is considered to be an adverb phrase, modifying the bare predicate ‘fly’. There! Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Hold on! We’re not finished. Let’s throw in another single and phrasal modifier of the bare subject and see where this takes us (probably into outer space if you’re not already there).

Three brave astronauts of the Peruvian Space Mission often fly into outer space.

We’ve added two adjective modifiers: ‘three’ and ‘of the Peruvian Space Mission‘. Once again, please note the inseparable group of words which team up to further describe the bare subject ‘astronauts’. Yes, it’s called an adjective phrase.

Now, go ahead, parse the above sentence. Use the following method:

1. Identify the whole subject (all the naming words).

2. Select the bare subject (most important naming word).

3. From the rest of the sentence (the predicate), choose the bare predicate. (which  can be more than one word, depending on the tense of the verb…present, past, future, etc.)

Subject: ‘three brave astronauts of the Peruvian Space Mission’

Bare Subject: astronauts

Bare Predicate: fly

Bravo! But we’re not quite finished (We know one should never begin a sentence with ‘but’, but we like the effect it has so it’s all right). The last thing on today’s plate is to go through the entire sentence and identify the function and corresponding name of each word. This is how it’s done:

‘three’ modifies the bare subject ‘astronauts’. It is an adjective.

‘brave’ (ditto…same as the above)

‘of the Peruvian Space Mission’ modifies the bare subject. It is an adjective phrase. (we’ll show you how to do phrasal analysis in a later blog…promise!)

‘often’ modifies bare predicate ‘fly’. It is an adverb.

‘into outer space’ (ditto…same as above). It is an adverb phrase.

And that, my fellow grammarians, if all we’ve got for…hold on a minute…it seems the members of the Peruvian Space Mission have urgently asked us to do the phrasal analysis right away (claim they’ll be flying into outer space later today and don’t want to miss a thing…who’s flying that space-craft…Steven Tyler? Hmmm, perhaps he does have a little Incan blood in him…) Roger that, team Peruvian! Here’s how it looks in English…

‘of the Peruvian Space Mission’

‘of’ introduces the phrase. It is a preposition.

‘the’, ‘Peruvian’ and ‘Space’ describe Mission. They are adjectives.

‘Mission’ is the object of the preposition. It is a noun.

Okay team, off you go into the wild blue yonder. But first, take some time to ponder as you wander through the magical and sometimes mystical Land of Grammar…until next time, try not to dangle your prepositions or misplace your modifiers…stay thirsty (for knowledge) my friends…

Bloggingfrog and Lily