5 Tips for There, Their, and They’re From Language Lady

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5 Tips for There, Their, and They're From Language Lady

#1

 

There, Their, and They’re Are Homophones

Homophones, homonyms, and homographs are commonly confused (as are the words that fall under each category!). When teaching new words to students, direct them to what they ALREADY know. I tell my students “You know more than you think you know!”

In the case of homophones, I remind students that HOMO means same and PHONE means hear (roughly). Thus, homophones are words that sound the same as each other (but are not spelled the same). With younger kids, I tell them that homoPHONES sound the same when you’re talking on the PHONE–that if you don’t see them written or hear them in a sentence, you don’t know what the speaker means. 

#2

 

Teach There in Two Ways

First of all, I have students highlight the word HERE within tHERE. I remind them that THERE is the word we use when we want to say HERE and THERE. That works for a while; however, it still focuses on position. That is just one of many uses for there. 

Secondly, I tell students that THERE is used when we want to say THERE IS and THERE ARE. This is important to note with older kids especially because these present many challenges, starting with “Do I use THEIR or THERE this time?” and continuing with “Do I use there IS or there ARE?” (In other words, there (and here) presents many subject-verb issues for older students!

#3

 

Their Has the Word HEIR in IT

In moving from there to THEIR, I do something similar in that I have students highlight the HEIR within the word THEIR. The word their is a possessive pronoun. An HEIR is someone who will take the reign. I remind students that someone will be HEIR to the THRONE. And just like a prince is the HEIR, THEIR shows possession. For younger kids, I tell them the HEIR owns the throne and THEIR shows that someone owns something. 

For older students, I remind them that their is a pronoun–and pronouns NEVER show ownership/possession with an apostrophe. (This is debatable for those who call words like other pronouns, but that doesn’t affect most pronouns.) In this regard, I tell them that you would never write their’s to show possession. 

#4

 

They’re Is a Contraction

Since I consistently teach that you do not show possession to a pronoun with an apostrophe, students are used to not using an apostrophe with pronouns. So they’re would never be used to show possession. When an apostrophe is used with a pronoun, it always means a contraction (he’s, she’ll, they’re). 

Contraction means squeezed. I tell students that a contraction is made when you squeeze two words together so hard that some of the letters pop out, and you must put an apostrophe in place of some of the letters. Then I teach something every other class session: Say contractions UNcontracted when you are about to write them. You will know for sure that you want that contraction if you always say the two words (in your head): THEY’RE here–they are here…yes!

#5

 

Bring Them All Together

When providing practice for these with young children, it is good to do the first two, then practice. Then add THEY’RE and practice. My favorite way to practice is to “choose the correct word” for youngers and have olders write the answers in the blank. Be sure the practice has the exact same types of uses as the lessons had. 

Homophone errors are common in writers from second grade through senior citizens! Thus, the real place to practice these words is in the students’ writing. Students need writing teachers who take the time to thoroughly edit their papers, so that the students can learn from their own errors. Rather than holding back on “correcting” their rough draft papers, I use these papers as opportunities to teach. Using proofreaders’ marks, I mark out the incorrect homophone and write the correct one above it. Use every encounter with students as an opportunity to teach!

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Slide Show: 5 Tips for Coordinating Conjunctions

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5 Tips for Coordinating Conjunctions

#1

 

Teach the Seven Coordinating Conjunctions (cc)

With a Mnemonic    

The beginning of using any writing strategy or technique is to memorize words that fall in that category. (Of course, don’t stop with memorizing them! The best programs teach the parts of speech then practice them then apply them in students’ writing–Teach, Practice, Apply!). 

I use a simple mnemonic created by a wise grammar teacher to help students memorize cc’s: FANBOYS. For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.

#2

 

Coordinating Conjunctions Can Be Used to Combine

Two Sentences Into One

One of the first conciseness techniques that students can learn easily to expand their sentence writing is that of the compound sentence joined together with ,For/,And/,Nor/,But/,Or/,Yet/,So. The first step in this skill is for the writer to have a thorough understanding of what a sentence contains. That is, they must be able to discern easily that the group of words in question is a complete sentence (CAVES–Capital, All Makes Sense, Verb, End Mark, Subject). (When I edit papers to show complete sentences joined with coordinating conjunctions, I use CS for complete sentence and cc for coordinating conjunctions: CS, cc CS.)

To test for this, cover up each “half” of the sentence and ask yourself if each half could stand alone as a sentence. If they both can, then you can create a compound sentence with a comma-coordinating conjunction:

         I like writing with coordinating conjunctions, for they make my writing more interesting. (YES–,FANBOYS because each half is a complete sentence)

       I like writing with coordinating conjunctions and creating compound sentences. (NO– no comma needed because each half is not a complete sentence)

#3

 

Coordinating Conjunctions Can Also Be Used

for a List of Two or More

The most common coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS) used in lists of two or more are the cc’s OR and AND:

                  We are writing sentences or paragraphs today. 

                We are writing essays, stories, and reports this semester. 

Two important comma rules emerge from the “cc’s for lists” practices: (1) The Oxford Comma Rule–Place a comma between each item in the list with the final comma right before the cc. This is an “optional” or stylistic rule that many grammarians follow for clarity.  (2) Do not place a comma AFTER the cc. Young students seem to do this a lot. Emphasize to them that you’re not dividing the AND or OR, so no comma is needed after the coordinating conjunction. 

#4

 

Other “Coordinating” or “Conjunctive” Types of Words Are Not True Coordinating Conjunctions 

While other words do have conjunctive properties, they are not true coordinating conjunctions that work with a comma before them to combine two sentences into one. This is important to note for correct sentence combining–as they usually join PARTS of sentences but not complete sentences. (This is another reason to learn the true seven FANBOYS!)

For example, WELL is an interjection. THOUGH is a subordinator. THEREFORE is a conjunctive adverb. These all have places in creating interesting sentences but cannot be used with a comma before them to combine two sentences into one.

#5

 

Unfortunately, Some Coordinating Conjunctions

Act As Other Parts of Speech

Seven simple cc’s. A little trick to learn them. Combine two sentences into one sentence with a comma before a FANBOYS. Easy, huh? Well, true to English form, three cc’s CAN be other parts of speech. (So sorry, students!)

First of all, FOR is a cc AND a preposition (for Mom, for the trip, for my brother). AND….. SO and YET are sometimes adverbs (She is SO kind; Have we arrived YET). Exceptions like these make it even more important that we teach students how to TEST the word and rule they are using. When I am teaching compound sentences with cc’s, I have students cover up each half of the sentence and read it aloud. When they practice these for homework, I have them highlight each half of the sentence in a different color highlighter to check for each side’s “completeness.” 

Resources for This Slideshow

1) Teach the Seven Coordinating Conjunctions (cc) With a Mnemonic: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/character.ink-rdreish/Blog_Post_Downloads/TrickyTrick_Compound_Sentences_Coordinating_Conjunctions.pdf

2) Coordinating Conjunctions Can Be Used to Combine Two Sentences Into One: http://characterinkblog.com/comma-clues-1-creating-a-compound-sentence-with-a-comma-coordinating-conjunction-cc/

3) Coordinating Conjunctions Can Also Be Used for a List of Two or More: http://characterinkblog.com/the-oxford-comma-cute/

4) Other “Coordinating” or “Conjunctive” Types of Words Are Not True Coordinating Conjunctions: http://characterinkblog.com/punctuation-puzzle-led-lead-pique-peek-peak-compound-sentences/

5) Unfortunately, Some Coordinating Conjunctions Act As Other Parts of Speech: http://characterinkstore.com/product/think-fast-grammar-quizzes/

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Slideshow: Five Tips for To, Two, and Too From Language Lady

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Five Tips for To, Two, and Too From Language Lady

#1

 

Start By Teaching the Numeral Two. 

This seems simple enough, but I am amazed at the programs that teach homophones in large groups or even with all of a word’s “confusing counterparts” to first grade students. 

The beauty of starting with TWO is that children as young as kindergarten are writing their first five or ten numbers in word form in their math books, penmanship programs, and spelling curriculum. (Yikes! Spelling programs for young students with spelling words based on common meanings {i.e. number words, beach words, food words, etc.} are not optimal.) However, young students who are non-readers have seen the word TWO quite often by kindergarten or first grade. 

#2

 When You Teach TO, Start With It as a Preposition. 

Have students learn that the word TO often shows position and comes before a THING. (Don’t worry about the technical terms of prepositions and nouns yet unless student is familiar with them.) This way, they can practice TO with phrases and short sentences–to the store, to town, to Mom, etc.

When you put TWO and TO together, do not use phrases for students to practice. It is rarely a good idea to teach parts of speech with phrases or words only. Parts of speech show FUNCTIONS of words within sentences. Thus, having students circle all of the verbs in a list of words is a VERY bad idea (ring, text, bike, watch, play—nouns AND verbs!). So…with the TWO and TO practice, have students fill in the blank or circle TWO or TO in sentences for practice. 

#3

 

Teach Tricks for Too for Older Students.

The word TOO can mean in excess (too much, too many, etc.) or in addition to (also). You can tell students that TOO means in excess when it has TOO many O’s!

Older students may be helped with the trick that AlsO has two vowels–and tOO has two vowels. (Whenever using tricks or mnemonics, if that trick is more confusing or not helpful to the student, drop the trick rather than causing further confusion.)

#4

 

Teach TO as the Beginning of an Infinitive (Verb) as Soon as Possible. 

When I start to teach second and third grade students simple preposition lists, rhymes, mnemonics, jingles, songs, and check sentences, I teach TO as the beginning of an infinitive right away. The purpose of learning those lists of prepositions is to spot prepositional phrases. The purpose of spotting prepositional phrases is to determine what a sentence’s subject and verb are. (The main subject and main verb are seldom found in a prepositional phrase.) 

Students are tripped up immediately in spotting prepositional phrases because of infinitives (to+verb). If we teach that TO is a preposition when it has a thing following it but is a special verb called an infinitive when it has a verb following it (to run, to jump, to be, etc.), they will be less confused when they encounter these (even if it takes a while at first to get used to looking beyond the TO for a thing or a verb). 

#5

 

Divide Practice for These Into Two Steps. 

First of all, have students practice writing V for Verb or P for Preposition beside infinitives and prepositional phrases that are bold fonted in sentence. You want to do the chunking of these for them. (Don’t ask students to do too many skills all at the same time–start with just telling whether each one is a V or a P in sentences such as The girl went to the store and The boy wanted to jump longer. 

Once the numeral TWO, the adverb (usually) TOO, and both TO’s are mastered, bring them together for final practice within sentences. (When they are all three together, I just have students fill in the blanks with the correct TWO, TOO, or TO—not tell each one’s function or type).  However, I continue to practice TO as a preposition and TO as an infinitive on into junior high in my books. It can be very confusing and elaborate in lengthy sentences. 

Thanks for Joining Donna to Learn About Grammar and Writing!

Check Out Other “5 Tips From Language Lady” slideshows!

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Resources for this Slide

1. Start By Teaching the Numeral Twohttp://characterinkblog.com/the-spelling-notebook/

2. When You Teach TO, Start With It as a Preposition: http://characterinkblog.com/teaching-prepositions-with-facebook-live-teaching-video/

3. Teach Tricks for Too for Older Students: Learn how to use all kinds of Tricky Tricks to teach—http://characterinkblog.com/tricky-tricks/

4. Teach TO as the Beginning of an Infinitive (Verb) as Soon as Possible: http://characterinkblog.com/3-verb-types-tricks-to-teach-them/

5. Divide Practice for These Into Two Steps: http://characterinkblog.com/video-use-preposition-practice-packet/

3 Verb Types & Tricks to Teach Them! (Song Included!)

 

One of the first things that we teach students who are learning to write sentences is that every sentence must have two things: a subject and a verb. (Technically, I teach that a sentence must have FIVE things—CAVES: Capital, All Makes Sense, Verb, End Mark, Subject.) Verbs are important! Action verbs are the forward motion of sentences. They persuade in persuasive writing; inform in research-based writing; and entertain in story writing. They do all of this in spite of one man, Michel Thaler, writing a 233-page French novel in 2004 that did not contain a single verb. (And I would say it also did not contain a single sentence! 😉 ).

 

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Slideshow: 5 Tips for Being, Helping, and Linking Verbs From Language Lady

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Slideshow: 5 Tips for Being, Helping, and Linking Verbs From Language Lady

#1

 

Being, Helping, and Linking Verbs Can Be Learned All Together Because They Act Like Each Other. 

Many grammar handbooks say that there are 8 true being verbs (is, are, am was, were, etc). Then the same handbook will say that there are 23 helping verbs ( the being verbs are on that list as well). Finally, it will say that linking verbs are the “sense” verbs plus the being verbs. That is a lot of confusion for students and teachers alike. 

I like to teach parts of speech from the perspective of usage. That is, I like to teach them according to how a student will use them in writing. In that way, I group being, helping, and linking verbs together for students to learn. They all do the same things (link or help). The ones that are “helpers” are not going to be confused with the ones that are linking only. (A student will not try to use REMAIN in place of WAS in the verb phrase WAS GOING!) Being and linking verbs all ACT the same: (1) They link the subject with the predicate; (2) They do not have adverbs with them; (3) They can have adjectives with them; (4) They can have predicate adjectives or predicate nominatives with them when they are the sole verb (I feel happy. I am a teacher.)  Since they all act alike, they can be learned together. (I call these Be, a Helper, Link! {BHL} verbs!)

#2

 

BHL Verbs Can Be Used as Helping Verbs to Tell WHEN Something Happened.

When a BHL verb comes before another verb (another BHL verb or an action verb), it is acting as a HELPING verb–helping the base verb by telling when something happened. This is one of the major uses for BHL verbs and one of the reasons it is important to learn how to use them with other base verbs (the verbs that follow the helper). 

When a base verb follows has, had, or have (and oftentimes was and were), it should be in its past participle tense. This is a very tricky concept that should be taught slowly and incrementally. 

a. has written
b. had gone
c. have done
d. had lain
e. has risen
f. have come

#3

 

BHL Verbs That Are Used Alone In Your Writing Can Be Located Easily and Changed to Strong Verbs So That Your Writing Is Not Passive.

In my writing books, we have a task in which students circle all of their verbs in their writing then change at least one per paragraph to a stronger verb. (This is in my Checklist Challenge.) This is an amazing exercise in itself as it teaches students to be aware of their verb choices. 

In my story writing books, I take this one step further and have students find their solo BHL verbs and remove them, making the sentence an action-driven sentence rather than a passive sentence. For example, in the sentence “The water was on the wall,” they take out was and change the sentence to “The water trickled down the rough cave wall.” Simply understanding and finding solo BHL verbs can have a huge impact on story writing. 

#4

 

Sometimes BHL Verbs Can Be Used as Action Verbs.

There are exceptions in all of English! (Poor students!) Not all LY words are adverbs (lovely); not all double negatives are wrong (in compound sentences); and BHL verbs are sometimes action verbs! There are two rules of thumb to tell when this is happening: (1)  BHL verbs usually have adjectives following them (if they have describers): He is TALL. When you really need an adverb, not an adjective, you’ll know that your BHL verb is really acting like an action verb.

The second rule of thumb is as follows: (2) When you do the task physically, the BHL verb might be an action verb: I DID the job well. (There’s that adverb again too!) I FEEL the snake on my foot in the water! (Feel it physically.) It is important to be able to tell when a BHL is being a BHL and when it is being an action verb because everything changes–the adverb vs. adjective; a direct object vs. a predicate nominative, etc. 

#5

 

Being, Helping, and Linking Verbs Can Be Learned All Together Easily and Quickly. 

Songs, jingles, rhymes, and mnemonics together comprise one of the three legs I use to teach grammar. (The other two are learning them in a way that tells the parts of speech’s use {Check Sentences} and applying them to writing through my Checklist Challenge.) I use my BHL Verb Song (Be a Helper, Link Verbs) to teach the 32 BHL Verbs. It is sung to the tune of “ABC” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

            ABCDEFG

            Be, a Helper, Link verbs,

            HIJKLMNOP

           Is, Are, Am, Was, & Were.

            QRSTUV

            Be, & Being, Been, Become,

            WXYZ

            Has, & Had, & Have are ones.

            Now I said my ABC’s

            Can, Could, Shall, Should—they are fun.

            Next time won’t you sing with me?
 

            Will, Would, Do, Did, Does, & Done.

            ABCDEFG

           May, Might, Must—they are some as well,

            HIJKLMNOP

            Appear, Look, Seem, Remain, Taste, Feel, & Smell.

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Learn More About Topics in This Slideshow

Be, a Helper, Link Verbs – Tricky Trick Download for Students!

 

I love mnemonics–tricks, songs, jingles, rhymes….anything that helps students learn! I love them even more when they have something to do with the purpose for learning that topic or the topic itself. Like in the case of prepositions–songs can help you learn about three dozen of the over 200 prepositions–but Check Sentences can help you learn 150 or more because Check Sentence have to do with the function of prepositions. (Learn more here)

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