Graham’s World Blog – April 10, 2014

Hi, this is Graham R. Gnome with another blog article for the Grammar 4 Writers website. This blog includes tips for using the website along with other items of interest to writers.


Whole Class Activities for Every Module – Did you know that each sentence activities worksheet includes instructions for a whole class activity using the online interactive practice games. Look for the black box at the bottom of the second page. These activities allow teachers and students to delve deeply into grammar concepts in a structured whole class lesson that is ideal for digital projectors and/or interactive whiteboards.


Great Sentences – Break Down

“The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts.”    Ray Bradbury, Rocket Summer (1950)

Grammar Breakdown

  • Simple sentence
  • Subject = rocket   verb= stood
  • Adverb prep phrase modifying the verb = in the cold winter
  • Dangling participial phrase modifying the subject = making summer with….
  • Technically, this sentence does have a dangling participle (the phrase is not next to the noun that it modifies), but the unnecessary comma stops the flow and directs the reader back to the rocket. Placing the participial at the end makes a stronger contrast between the winter day and the heat and light of the rocket.

Rhetoric Breakdown

  • Personification – rockets can’t breathe, humans do
  • Deification – rockets don’t make summer, only God does

Discussion – In this one sentence, Ray Bradbury is illuminating the relationship between humans, their technology, God, and nature. What might this relationship be?


Website Writing Spotlight: Participial Phrases –Paragraph Activity

Perfect for teaching Common Core language standard L.7.1.c* Place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.

The paragraph activity for participial phrases graphically illustrates the dangers of misplacing a participial phrase. Students are asked to intentionally create dangling and misplaced modifiers and then draw cartoons that illustrate the confusion in meaning which results.


Really tricky grammar issues: Can you begin a sentence with a conjunction? Yes, but!

While generations of English teachers have made it a rule to never start a sentence with “and” or “but,” the truth is that many references such as the Oxford English Dictionary find nothing wrong with beginning sentences with conjunctions (in moderation). You should be careful, though, to only begin a complete sentence with a conjunction. The key is that “but” takes the place of something more formal like “however” or “and” takes the place of “in addition.” Be sure to avoid errors that create fragments.

  • Error: We climbed the highest peak. And surveyed the valley below the soft clouds.
  • Correct: We climbed the highest peak. And the valley appeared far below the soft clouds.
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Posted in common core standards, grammar, teaching writing, writing

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