Hi, this is Graham R. Gnome bringing you another blog article for the Grammar 4 Writers website.
This blog includes tips for getting the most bang for your buck with the website along with other items of interest to writers.
Great Sentences – Break Down
Last month the gnomes and I had an Oscar party. One of the games we played was fill in the blank with famous lines from movies, and I noticed that many of these lines had infinitives. See if you can fill the missing infinitive into these famous movie lines (answers at end of blog).
“I’m going _________ him an offer he can’t refuse.” The Godfather, 1972
- Complex sentence
- Subject = I
- Verb = am going (idiom)
- Adverb = infinitive phrase
- Dep clause = (that) he can’t refuse (working as an adjective to modify offer)
- Say it slowly as if you have all the time and power in the world and as if you have cotton balls in your mouth.
“What we’ve got here is a failure _________.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967
- Simple sentence
- Subject = What we’ve got here (noun clause)
- Verb = is
- Complement = failure
- adjective = infinitive phrase (modifying failure)
- Say it haltingly in a sickeningly sweet southern accent with an undertone of pure evil.
“Love means never having _____ you’re sorry.” Love Story, 1970
- Simple sentence
- Subject = Love
- Verb =means
- Complement = (gerund phrase) having + infinitive phrase as adverb
- Look deep into someone’s eyes and say it with choked back emotion.
“Looks like I picked the wrong day ______ smoking.” Airplane, 1980
- Simple sentence = informal English
- Subject = (It) omitted
- Verb =looks
- Adverb clause = (like should be replaced with as if) like I picked…..
- Say it a restrained way with nervous tension boiling barely beneath the surface.
Discussion – Can you find a quotable line from a movie with an infinitive phrase?
Website Writing Spotlight: Infinitives –Composition Activity
Perfect for high school students studying Shakespeare
The composition activity (an argument) focuses on the most famous infinitive in the English language, “To be or not to be.” This famous infinitve from Hamlet’s soliloquy is first analyzed and then used as the springboard for students to write their own soliloquy-style argument.
Really tricky grammar issues: Should you begin a sentence with because? If you have students who are grammar gurus, give them this question to research. Here is the answer.
Of course, you can begin a sentence with “because.” The trick is to make sure that you complete it with an independent clause. “Because” always begins a subordinate clause that works as an adverb. Subordinate clauses do not represent a complete thought and are therefore not a complete sentence. Students, who use “because” at the beginning of their sentences, often forget to add the independent clause and thereby create a fragment. To avoid this problem, teachers often tell students not to use because at the beginning.
Here are examples of common student errors that teachers are trying to avoid by telling them not to begin sentences with “because.”
- FRAGMENT = Because she will be late to the tournament. I must find another partner for the first match.
- FRAGMENT = Why did everyone assume they would win? Because the French army was led by Napoleon.
These are easy to fix; add a comma and the independent clause.
- SENTENCE = Because she will be late to the tournament, I must find another partner for the first match.
- SENTENCE = Because the French army was led by Napoleon, everyone assumed that they would win.