So many grammar debates, so little time. And here’s yet another one: Are proper adjectives a thing? Or are they really just proper noun elements within a common noun?
We will likely never know for sure….
However, it really doesn’t matter what you call them. They need some proper capitalization!
By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish
Oh, proper nouns and quotations. Where do I start to explain the myriad of difficulties that students (and adults!) have with these. Am I starting to sound more like Lamenting Lady than Language Lady in the openings to these Punctuation Puzzles? If so, I am sorry! When you have taught fifty to one hundred students (in second through twelfth grades) English/language arts every semester for nearly twenty years (and you write books and products for them literally every year for nearly two decades as well), you just start to really feel sorry for these precious people who have to navigate the grammar waters with all of its exceptions and varying rules. (Sympathetic, she is!?)
Merry Christmas from Language Lady and Character Ink Press! It is the time of good cheer, festivities, magical moments with children, celebrating the Nativity–AND grammar errors galore! Usage errors are to be expected since many of the things we are writing this time of year are things we only write once a year. It’s hard to remember grammar and usage protocols that we use daily, much less ones that we only use yearly. I hope this post will clear many of your Christmas grammar issues up!
1. Use three key words to introduce sentence types. Sometimes just shortening longer words to their base can make them easier for students to grasp. I like to use the punctuation marks as part of the key word teaching in phrases like these:
a) Declarative–You DECLARE something. Just stating something.
b) Interrogative—Are you a suspect in an INTERROGATION room getting questioned?
c) Exclamatory—You EXCLAIM something in loud words with an exclamation point!
Most second graders learn about three types of sentences—the declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory. Children do not have a lot of trouble with the three types of sentences—it is relatively easy to discover the difference between a statement (or declarative sentence) and a question (or interrogative sentence), etc.
Again, the problem most writers (of all ages) have is not determining what the ending punctuation should be for a sentence or determining if a sentence should begin with a capital letter or not. The real difficulty lies in determining whether a group of words is a sentence or not a sentence. We will examine that more closely as the next month progresses.
Sentence openers. Non-essential information. Dress up openers. Introductory material. Or my personal definition: “A word or group of words that is put at the beginning of a REAL (complete sentence) to add more detail, different sentence rhythm, interest, and variety.”
Regardless of what you call them, they can be tricky to teach for sure. And the biggest obstacle I have seen to teaching them is the simple problem of students not knowing whether a sentence is a real sentence to begin with. Students will never get a good handle on sentence openers (also called introductory material or non-essential information at the beginning of a sentence) UNTIL they have a handle on what a sentence contains.