Sometimes a dependent clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Sometimes, dependent clauses add additional non-essential details. These steps will help you decide if a clause is essential or non-essential.
Step 1: Read the whole sentence and identify the clause. Underline the clause
Step 2: Read the sentence without the clause. Does it make enough sense?
Step 3: Read the sentence again, but this time with the clause. Does it make more sense?
Step 4: If the sentence makes complete sense without the clause, place commas around the clause. If the sentence needs the clause to make sense, do not place commas around the clause.
Follow the steps above and practice with these two sentences. Only one sentence needs commas. Which one?
Our hotel which was near the beach offered free room service.
The room which has the ocean view is more expensive than the three-room suite.
Answer: The first sentence contains a non-essential clause, and therefore, will require commas around the clause.
Understanding and identifying parallelism is common in grammar reviews as well as on standardized tests.
Parallelism can be achieved by making sure there is balance on both sides of a conjunction (and, but, yet, & so). Conjunctions are typically found between independent clauses and in lists.
First, find the conjunction. Then look for balance. You can tell if something is not balanced if the parts of speech are different or if there is a modifier on one side and not the other. If you see an imbalance, correct it.
My favorite meals are pizza, spaghetti, and ordering subs. Pizza and spaghetti are nouns. Ordering subs? That is an action.
Fix the imbalance: My favorite meals are pizza, spaghetti, and subs.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Adding “Do you agree with the following statement,” to the beginning of axioms such as this is a good way to create sample essay topics if you’re taking or helping someone practice for the SAT, GRE, or other test with a writing component.
Should I write in print or manuscript? That is the question. You might also be asking if you should even bother learning cursive at all. Some school districts are already making efforts to remove cursive from some curriculum.
I would argue that many people still need cursive and should learn it. For one thing, adult ESL students associate cursive writing with a mature form of writing, where print seems more childlike. While print is the preferred, and often required, style for people in certain fields, such as science and technology, for anyone learning the Roman Alphabet for the first time, cursive provides a way of doing so quickly and legibly. It is also important for children to learn cursive to practice their fine motor functions. Even if they don’t need it to pass their classes, the benefits of dexterity provided by the muscle toning can help in ways that extend beyond writing. This blog explains some of the more clinical benefits of cursive.
If you have hired, or if you are, a content manager or editor whose native language is not English, please read this report from Search Engine Watch. The report spells out how misspellings can hurt online sales, stating that it’s not important if the author isn’t concerned with the spelling. What really matters is the website visitor’s opinion. Specifically alarming is is the fact that your visitors will equate good spelling and grammar with legitimacy.
Accurate spelling and good grammar are equated with legitimacy, if not consciously then subconsciously. Some of us may be more aware of this sentiment when it is expressed in the negative: Bad spelling and bad grammar are cause for suspicion. For example, what’s the first clue a piece of email from a stranger is a scam? Many people would say it’s the bad spelling and grammar.
The article is also helpful by providing tips for avoiding such costly mistakes.
Don’t rely on spell checkers. The above heading passes a spell check with flying colors. Spell checkers can be a big help, especially those that flag errors as you type, but they just don’t have the human intelligence required to know which words you should be using.
Use multiple human editors. I don’t know any serious writers who believe they can reliably copy edit their own work. As the writer you tend to see what you think you wrote, not what characters ended up on the page. In a pinch, “multiple human editors” can mean the person writing the copy and one other person, but three sets of eyes are better than two.
Make sure your graphics people use the spellchecker in Photoshop for any images that include words. They need to use it before rasterizing the text layer. Editing typos in flattened image files is a real pain so check before you save to JPEG, GIF, or PNG.
If you are an ESL student, you should know what your instructors’ goals are when grading. Some might focus more on content rather than on accuracy. If your instructor looks more at content and less on grammatical accuracy, ask them what areas you can improve. There is always room for improvement whether it is working on native English phrasing, choosing the right diction to present the intended meaning, or using the most appropriate verb tense.
Irregular plural nouns break the rules when it comes to using apostrophes.
For regular plural nouns, the apostrophe goes after the -s. An example would be:
I don’t like that dining room set because the chairs’ legs are iron.
But irregular plurals will rarely have an -s to indicate more than one, such as in the word people, children, men, and women. In this case, since there is no -s on the word, add the apostrophe as you would on a singular verb, but keep in mind that they are still plural.
The People’s Court (the court belongs to all the people)
The Children’s Room (the room belongs to more than one child)
The Men’s Section (the section has clothes for men)
The Women’s Department (the department has items for women)
Sometimes you will see Ladies’ Department. That is correct, too. The word lady is not irregular.
Are you looking for a quick way to get your students to practice writing? Give them cards with a proverb or cliche on it and have them interpret the meaning in their own words, in paragraph form, of course. Not only will this activity give your students more writing practice, it can serve to lead a discussion on why to avoid cliches.
Here are some cliches to get you started:
to avoid something like the plague
honest as the day is long
here today gone tomorrow
peel the layers of the onion
there’s no time like the present
there’s no place like home
you can’t go home again
nothing to write home about
until the cows come home
By the way, if you see a cliche you whose meaning you are uncertain of, try entering the word or phrase in Urban Dictionary’s search bar for the meaning.
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