You know what one of my least favorite words is? FACADE.

First of all, I work week in and week out to try to teach that an A, O, U, or most consonants make the C say “kuh.” That would make this word fuh-kade, right? (Or even fay-kade.) Unfortunately, that is wrong.

It is pronounced fuh-sodd. (That A really doesn’t make the C say “kuh.”)

That clearly makes this word a FAKE, which is one of its only redeeming qualities–it means what it looks like! Smile…

That bring us to the second aspect of the word–its meaning. It is a noun that means “a face of a building or a superficial appearance.”

In that regard, it is as it is pronounced–even though it isn’t pronounced like it is spelled (which is true of many words that came from somewhere else).

So it is easy to learn the meaning of—it has to do with what it sounds like–FACE (albeit, a fake face). But it is not spelled as one would think.

So, don’t put on a facade today! Don’t try to put on a superficial front or fake face. Be yourself!

U is for UNUSUAL SPELLINGS: Wednesday

U is for UNUSUAL SPELLINGS: Wednesday

So many of my students have trouble spelling today’s day of the week! Wednesday is definitely not phonetic, so students (and adults!) get stuck on the spelling of it. Most people say Wednesday without the sound of the d at all.
We teach our students to spell difficult words in many ways, giving them as many tools as we possibly can.
1.    Syllable by syllable—longer words that are phonetic in nature can often be syllabicated and spelled syllable by syllable by a student who is fairly phonetically-savvy: con/se/quence.

2.    Tricks and mnemonics—we call these “Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick” and use them often with our “Wacky Words”—words that have a wacky counterpart that can be confusing, such as the homophones their, there, and they’re. I had an elementary student this year who told the class that they could easily spell Nebuchadnezzar if they just divided it up and pronounced the ch as choo (not kuh): Neb/U/Chad/Nez/Zar! Of course, any tricks that help a person are handy tools to have (though the trick must help that person in order to be effective).

3.    Visual tricks—many visual people spell by “seeing” the word—its shape, its sequence of letters (and the shapes those letters make), etc.

4.    Memorization—some people  are just naturally good spellers (it is now thought to be a specific skill set separate from intelligence) and can memorize a word’s spelling once it is seen.

How do YOU spell Wednesday. Many of my students say it just like it looks to spelll it: WED/NES/DAY!
Does that help you?

Lie vs Lay

Lie vs Lay

Sit and rise have I’s–and lie does too.
“Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.
Here we are at the end of our Wacky Word pair—lie and lay.
Remember these lie and lay tips:
  1. Lie has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
    1. I lie in bed at  wide awake.
    2. Yesterday I lay awake half the night.
    3. Before that I had lain down when the cat jumped on me.
  1. Lie means to stretch out in a flat position—anybody or anything can lie, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT laid)
    1. She lies down with a headache every day.
    2. The sun is lying low.
    3. She has lain down for a nap.
  1. Lay must have an object following it—something that it is being laid down.
    1. Lay your book on the table.
    2. He laid his money down.
    3. She has laid the towels in the sun.
Okay…the tenses for the three:
1. Lie
            a. Base form: lie—Tomorrow I will lie down early. (Remember—no object; down is an adverb; early is an adverb here, not an object.
            b. Past simple: lay—Yesterday I lay in the sun. (Tricky part: past tense of lie is lay; lay is also the present tense of lay—to lay something down!)
            b. Past participle: lain—They have lain low ever since then.
            d. Third person singular: lies—The dog just lies under the tree all day long.
            e. Present participle/gerund: lying—The sun was lying on the horizon for so long today.
2. Lay
      1. Base form: lay—I lay the kids’ clothes out every day. (Tricky: lay is the base form of lay (to put something down; it is also the past tense of lie—to stretch out by yourself or itself.)
      2. Past simple: laid—Yesterday I laid the pink pants out for Jon.
      3. Past participle: laid—Before the dog came in, I had already laid his bones out.
      4. Third person singular: lays—He lays the book down every night at ten.
      5. Present participle/gerund: laying—I am laying the swim suits out to dry.
Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick
  1. Again, do sit/set first (all same base word for tenses of set!) or rise/raise (since many people get this pair correct even if they do not know sit/set and lie/lay very well).
  2. Do rise/raise after sit/set or sit/set after rise/raise (saving lie/lay for last).
  3. Memorize acronym/rhyme to cement the fact that all three with I’s are the ones that are done by someone or something (not to something).
  4. When you get to lie and lay, to lie first all by itself until it is memorized. Then do lay. (I am starting to wait a week between the two with lots of practice on lie during that week before moving on to lay.)
I’m officially done with sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! Time to move on. I feel that I have risen to the occasion and am glad that I did not sit idly by and lay these tricky ones aside. Glad I did not let people lie in agony over these Wacky Words. I would like for all of us to set our grammar burdens aside and raise a toast in honor of sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! J (Last time for a while, honest!)

Sit and Set Pop Quiz With Answer Key!

      Sit Down While I Set Up a Quiz For You!

Sit and rise have I’s–and lie does too.
“Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.

Fill in the blanks below with the correct forms/tenses of sit/set.
  1. She _________ down and wept when she heard the news.
  2. They _______ down.
  3. They _______ the plants out.
  4. They will be _______ the clothes out beforehand.
  5. Yesterday, he ________ down to rest.
  6. They will ________ the clothes out to dry.
  7. He _________ down.
  8. He is ____________ down.
  9. They will be _________ the clothes out beforehand.
  10. She has _________ the clothes out beforehand.
  11. They have __________ down.
  12. He has ____________ down.
  13. They __________ the trap to catch the bear.
  14. They are __________ down.
  15. They will ________ the tent up at .


  • She sat down and wept when she heard the news.
  • They sit down.(or sat)
  • They set the plants out.
  • They will be setting the clothes out beforehand.
  • Yesterday, he sat down to rest.
  • They will set the clothes out to dry.
  • He sits down.
  • He is sitting down.
  • They will be setting the clothes out beforehand.
  • She has set the clothes out beforehand.
  • They have sat down.
  • He has sat down.
  • They set the trap to catch the bear.
  • They are sitting down.
  • They will set the tent up at .
  • Grammar Errors Associated With Christmas

    Grammar Errors Associated With Christmas

    Merry Christmas from Language Lady!

    This time of year we see a plethora of spelling, capitalization, grammar, and usage errors–on signs, catalogs, greeting cards, and more:
    1. merry Christmas on a greeting card (which technically isn’t wrong, but just doesn’t look right either!)
    2. “This line is for eight items or less”–even though it should be “eight items or fewer”
    3. Xmas–even though the Associated Press itself says to never use this abbreviation!
    4. Seasons’ Greetings (which indicates that you are offering someone greetings for more than one season–the plural noun seasons)
    5. Happy capitalization guy or girl–Christmas Tree, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Ham, etc.
    Many holiday greetings and terms are subjective (shocking, huh?); however, here is a list to help you see the most common ways that greetings and holiday words are expressed this time of year:
    1. You can write any of the following:
    a. Seasons Greetings (no possession shown at all–more of a noun describing another noun)
    b. seasons greetings (same as a., but no capitalization–not recommended for greeting cards and headers)
    c. Season’s Greetings (the most common way, showing that the season {one season} possesses the greeting; note the capping here)
    d. season’s greetings (like c but not capped)
    2. Of course, people also write Merry Christmas in different combinations (with and without the M capitalized; however, Christmas should always be capitalized because it is a proper noun by itself:
    a. merry Christmas
    b. Merry Christmas
    3. To cap or not to cap greetings? This is a stylistic preference, but if it is in a header or greeting card, you definitely want to capitalize:
    a. Season’s Greetings or season’s greetings
    b. Merry Christmas or merry Christmas
    c. Happy Holidays or happy holidays
    d. Happy New Year or happy New Year
    e. Happy Christmas or happy Christmas
    f. Happy Christmastime (all one word) or happy Christmastime (again, all one word)
    4. Words that are already proper nouns should remain proper nouns in every context and should retain their capitalization:
    a. Santa Claus
    b. Poinsettia–This is traditionally capitalized because the flower is named after a botanist and physician who was also the first US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. In 1828, he introduced the plant to the country.
    c. The actual holidays
         i. Christmas or Christmas Day
          ii. Christmas Eve
         iii. New Year’s Eve (one year–singular YEAR…..hmm….”that doesn’t end in an s, so I need to put apostrophe s”)
         iv. New Year’s Day
    d. North Pole (Remember–you capitalize directions when they are part of a proper noun already–but not when giving directions. No “Turn West at the corner”!)
    e. Jesus, Jesus Christ, Messiah–most Christian publications capitalize names for or references to God and Jesus
    f. All locations associated with Christ’s birth and life as they are proper nouns already–Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc., and, of course, King Herod, Joseph, and Mary (but not shepherds or wise men)
    g. When describing decorations, only capitalize the original proper noun:
         i. Christmas tree
         ii. Christmas wreath
         iii. New Year’s Day dinner
         iv. Christmas Eve party
    h. Nativity is capitalized when it stands alone or when it is combined with non-proper noun elements
         i. Nativity scene
         ii. Nativity pieces
         iii. Nativity story
    i. Advent is capitalized in all contexts 
    Merry Christmas from Language Lady! 
    Think Fast Grammar Quiz Answer Key

    Think Fast Grammar Quiz Answer Key

    image from wordmr.

    If you have a newer edition of CQLA, you likely have weekly quizzes called “Think Fast Grammar Quiz.” When we created these, we originally thought that parents would use the Grammar Cards (available in Level B and C books and in the Teacher’s Guide) to grade their students’ quizzes.

    Then we began teaching/testing the editions that contain these quizzes and discovered that it wasn’t as easy as we had previously thought to just use the Grammar Cards to check the quizzes–and to help your student categorize and study the grammar words.

    So we created the document below to be used both as an Answer Key as well as a study guide for the Think Fast Grammar Quiz. It will be in a future edition of the Teacher’s Guide, and when our new website is done this fall, it will be available there as well. In the meantime, we are emailing the document to anyone who calls or emails us asking for it–and we are putting it here at the blog in the hopes that word will get out and parents will find it.

    We use it to grade our testing students’ quizzes, but we also use it in the following way:

    1. We have the student fill in as much of each part of the quiz as he or she can—then highlight the line in which he left off on his own. Then we have him look in the AK to find more and finish filling in the lines with the ones from the AK. This shows us what he already knows and what he had to look up, but it also helps him to learn more of them by writing them out as he looks them up in the AK.

    2. We also assign portions of the AK for homework. For example, we will have all students study the section in the AK that has opposite prepositions or prepositions that begin with B, etc. This makes the AK into a sort of Study Guide for the student and has really helped them learn the words in categories as opposed to long lists of them.

    Please share this post with fellow CQLA users so that we can get the word out that there is a lengthy, detailed, helpful Answer Key for the Think Fast Grammar Quiz! 😉


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