Reflexive Pronouns: Myself, Himself, Herself, Ourselves, and Themselves (Never Theirselves…Let’s Get That Straight in the Title of This Post!)

Myself, Yourself & Themselves

Did you know that there is a group of pronouns called reflexive pronouns? I know, right? Not mentioned that often. I hardly remember studying them in school at all. And yet, we use them all the time—and even eloquent people use them wrong quite often. (How many interviews or speeches have you heard someone say, “Then my friend and myself….” or “He began talking to my friend and myself…” WRONG!


Rise/Raise and Sit/Set and Lie/Lay Tips

Rise/Raise and Sit/Set and Lie/Lay Tips

Many hands rising the sky together, children and adults - stock photo

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.

I am going to take sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay one pair at a time over the next few days; however, I wanted to start the series (or at least this second post) with teacher tips.
I have watched kids with glossed over eyes as I have tried many techniques and order to teach these tricky pairs, and have had many difficulties “rise” up and confuse them (and me!):
  1. People lie; things get laid down—sort of works, but it’s not just people who lie—the sun lies on the horizon; the city lies asleep in the early morning hours; the animal lies in the middle of the road….you get the idea
  2. People lie; things get laid down—but it still didn’t help with the sit/set and rise/raise dilemma
  3. The past tense of lie (as in yesterday I lay down to take a nap…don’t I wish!) is the same as the current tense of lay (as in I am going to lay the book on the table)—poor kids!
  4. And so many more!
So here are a few tips that I would like to pass along to those trying to teach these rules:
  1. Consider a rhyme or mnemonic like the one above to reinforce the I’s in sit, rise, and lie—when we remind students that I do those things—and they have I’s in them, we are helping them remember that these do not have objects following them.
  2. Do NOT start with lie. It is by far the most confusing of the trio—and I try to do that one after rise and sit (with fewer exceptions, etc.) are established in students’ minds.
  3. DO start with sit. Set has the same tense for all—present; past; and past participle. Today I set the table; yesterday I set the table; before that I have set the table.
  4. If you are teaching from a Christian standpoint, Jesus and God are prime examples of rise/rose/has risen and raise/raised/has raised:
    1. Jesus will rise from the grave. God will raise Jesus.
    2. Jesus rose from the grave. God raised Jesus.
    3. Jesus has risen from the grave. God has raised Jesus.
  1. Suggested order: sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay.
Happy teaching—and learning! J



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!)

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