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B is for BEING VERBS!
In our books, we group being/helping/linking verbs together since they often serve the same purpose, and they all have the same modifiers (i.e. adjectives modifying noun before BHL verb as opposed to adverbs modifying the verb), etc.
To help you remember the Be, a Helper, Link verbs, there is a little rhyme that you can sing to the tune of ABC’s (or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”):
Be, a Helper, Link verbs,
Is, Are, Am, Was, & Were.
Be, & Being, Been, Become,
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.
May, Might, Must—they are some as well,
Appear, Look, Seem, Remain, Taste, Feel, & Smell.
B is for BHL VERBS!
There are a number of reasons to memorize being, helping, and linking verbs:
(1) When one stands alone as a linking verb or is used before a base verb as a helping verb, it is the verb that you match with the subject: He IS happy…is must match with He; they ARE going (are must match with they.
(2) They tell WHEN something happened (present, past, etc.).
(3) When one stands alone, it may have an adjective following it–which is going back to the noun or pronoun before it, describing that noun or pronoun. (You do not use an adverb with a single BHL verb.)
(4) When one stands alone, it should have the subjective form of a pronoun following it (if it has a pronoun following it), not the objective: This is SHE (not this is HER).
(5) When a base verb follows has, had, or have (and oftentimes was and were), it should be in its past participle tense:
a. has written
b. had gone
c. have done
d. had lain
e. has risen
f. have come
Today’s Comma Clue can be confusing–but it is one of the most needful for comprehension as well as for sentence fluidity when reading aloud.
When you start a sentence with a subordinate clause,
Put the comma in when you hear the pause!
That is a cute rhyme (don’t you think?)….but unless you know what a subordinate clause is (and prior to that, what a subordinator is), it will not do you much good to recite it. So this post will go back to what subordinators are first.
Maybe you were taught that subordinators (words that make the part of the sentence that they are in be “subordinate” to the rest of the sentence) are called other things, like conjunctives or subordinate conjunctions. Some grammar handbooks do not even classify subordinators at all but call them whatever other class they fall under (i.e. the preposition before might always be called a preposition, even though it is a subordinator when it has a subject and verb following it).
Regardless of what you were taught about subordinators, they are extremely important to good writing. Why?
1. A subordinator is a word that falls at the beginning of a subordinate clause.
2. A subordinate clause is a group of words that begins with a subordinator and has a subject and verb following it.
3. A subordinate clause is subordinate to the rest of the sentence–that is, it is “less than” the real sentence.
4. A subordinate clause may not stand alone as it is not a real sentence.
5. A subordinate clause sounds as though something is missing when it is read–because something is (the real sentence!).
6. A subordinate clause may be joined with a complete sentence to create a complex sentence, but the subordinate clause may never stand alone.
So….what are subordinators?
Let’s start with the first six that we teach our youngest language arts students in our books:
Since, when, though
Because, if, although.
Yeah, it’s a rhyme! Cute, huh? (I love teaching!)
Anyway, for you older folks, we have a Subordinator-Check Sentence that most subordinators fit into. In a nutshell, if a word fits in the check sentence and the word is not an adverb, it likely a subordinator:
________________________ the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
Since the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
When the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
Though the submarine went down, we could STILL see it.
Because the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
If the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
Although the submarine went down, we could STILL see it.
Okay, that is the first six. Here is a lengthy, but not exhaustive list of subordinators:
-after (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-as (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-as long as
-as soon as
-because of (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-before (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-in order that
-now (more commonly used as an adverb)
-than (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-til (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-until (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
In as much as the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
Until the submarine went down, we could STILL see it.
While the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.
We will stop here and give you time to memorize these before we go on in a day or two working on punctuating sentences that begin with subordinate clauses. Just looking at the Subordinator-Check Sentence, though, you can probably deduce that the first rhyme in this post is accurate: a subordinate clause opener is followed by a comma. More later!
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