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Grammarphobe Tips

Your students will enjoy these tips on grammar from Woe is I Jr., The Younger Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner.
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Grammarphobe Tips

Your students will enjoy these tips on grammar from Woe is I Jr., The Younger Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner.

IF

There's a special, "iffy" kind of grammar that we use for if sentences when the if part is untrue. We say, If I were Godzilla, I'd run amok. We don't say, If I was Godzilla, I'd run amok. When we're in this iffy mood, was becomes were. (I'm assuming, of course, that you're not Godzilla!)

VERBS

  • You can dissolve, combust, or turn to dust,
  • But you can't avoid a verb.
  • You can readjust until you bust,
  • But you can't avoid a verb.
  • You can pout and whine. You can put up a sign:
  • "I'm busy! Do not disturb!"
  • You can mail yourself to Liechtenstein,
  • But you can't avoid a verb.

SELF WORDS

People who can't decide between I and me often choose myself instead. They say things like, Keira and myself ate in the lunchroom. Or, Orlando sat with Keira and myself. Well, I'm sorry, but that's cheating. Self words are for special occasions. They're used for two purposes, and two purposes only:

  • To emphasize something. I made the burrito all by myself.
  • To refer to someone already mentioned. I looked at myself in the mirror.
Otherwise, use I or me instead. Don't be self-ish!

POSSESSIVES

All you need to make almost any word possessive is an apostrophe and the letter s. Sometimes you use both of them together, and sometimes you use the apostrophe alone. If the word is singular, always add ?s, even if it already ends with an s.
Klaus's family escaped when Count Olaf's back was turned.

If the word is plural and doesn't already end with s, add ?s.
Violet studied the children's menu while Klaus was in the men's room.

If the word is plural and ends in s, add just the apostrophe.
The waiters' strike ruined the Baudelaires' meal.

Excerpted from

Woe is I Jr. -- The Younger Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English
Patricia T. O'Conner

Woe is I Jr. -- The Younger Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

As Patricia T. O'Conner proved in the national bestseller Woe Is I, grammar can be fun and easy to understand! Now adapted for middle-graders with witty chapter headings, silly poems, and entertaining examples, students will know that this is far from a typical reference book.

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