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Study Guide

Parts of Speech
The parts of speech are the eight different kinds of words:

noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection.


A noun is a word that names something: a person, a place, a thing, or an idea. Some examples: governor, Oregon, hospital, Buddhism, love. A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun. The word the pronoun refers to (Jack ran along the path that led to his house) is called the antecedent. Examples of pronouns: I, you, she, it, which, that, themselves, whoever, me, she, they, mine, ours. A verb is a word that expresses action or state of being. Examples: run, carried, declared, is, are, seemed. An adjective describes or modifies a noun or a pronoun. Example: The young driver peeked through the big steering wheel. An adverb describes or modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. An adverb tells how, when, where, why, how often or how much. Examples: She sneezed loudly. Her sneezes are really dramatic. The sneeze exploded very noisily. A preposition is a word (or group of words) that shows a relationship between its object and another word in the sentence. Thats a bit vague. Another way to think of prepositions is to picture a boat with an anchor. The anchor could be on the boat, below the boat, in the boat, behind the boat or beyond the boat. Other common prepositions include: about, above, among, at, before, by, during, from, inside, near, off, outside, past, since, to, toward, up, upon and with. A prepositional phrase includes the preposition, the object and the modifiers. Example: He ran away from caterpillars. A conjunction connects individual words or groups of words. Common conjunctions include: and, but, or, yet, so, neither, whether, after, although, before, unless, when and while. Example: When we came back to Paris, it was clear and cold and lovely. --Ernest Hemingway. An interjection communicates strong emotion or surprise. Punctuation (often a comma or an exclamation point) is used to set off an interjection from the rest of the sentence. Examples: Oh, no! I have nothing to do! Wow, Ill go crazy!

Punctuation
A period ( . ) marks the end of a sentence, such as this one. An ellipsis ( . . . ) shows a pause or omitted words. Example: The hunter stopped and listened . . . and eventually heard the distinct sound of rams butting heads. A comma ( , ) is used for many purposes. These are four common uses: To separate the elements in a series: Their flag is red, yellow, green and blue. To connect two independent clauses joined by a conjunction: They went to the fair, and Paul and Wanda decided volunteer for the dunk tank. To set off introductory elements: The following morning, the team boarded the bus for the long trip home. To set off parenthetical elements: The admission of guilt, offered without any prompting, sealed his fate. A semicolon ( ; ) connects two or more closely related independent clauses or, to put it more simply, it connects related thoughts. Example: The tree cut diagonally across the trail; a blackened portion suggested it was felled by lightning. A colon ( : ) is used for emphasis and to indicate a list, quotation or explanation follows. Example: She had much to do that day: file her petition, buy groceries, drive her daughter to soccer practice, and take the dog to the vet. A question mark ( ?) shows that a query has been posed. Example: Why did you throw your trumpet across the band room? A dash ( --) is used for emphasis, to set off parenthetical material and to set off introductory material, among other things. The dash is quite versatile it can often be used instead of semicolons, commas and colons. Example: When Josh took the shot his first of the game his sister Mary held her breath. An exclamation point ( ! ) is used (sparingly) to express strong feeling. Examples: Great move! That was brilliant! Quotation marks ( " " ) indicate dialogue, set off quoted passages, indicate a word is being emphasized and punctuate titles. Examples: "The meeting will start in five minutes," Paula said. The car was "decorated" with toilet paper.

An apostrophe ( ) is used in contractions, to form some plurals and to form possessives. Examples: If theyd left, they wouldnt have seen the volcano erupt. She got straight As. Brians snowboard is expensive.

Sentences
A sentence expresses a complete thought. There are four kinds of sentences: declarative sentences make statements; interrogative sentences ask questions; imperative sentences make commands; and exclamatory sentences communicate strong emotion or surprise. Sentences have a subject and predicate. A subject is the part of the sentence about which something is said. A predicate is the part of the sentence that shows action or says something about the subject. Example: Giant squid do exist. Giant Squid is the subject and do exist is the predicate. A sentence can include phrases, clauses or both. A phrase is a group of related words that function as a single part of speech. A phrase lacks a subject, a predicate, or both. Consider this sentence: Finishing the race will require running down several steep slopes. Three phrases make up the sentence: Finishing the race, which lacks a predicate; will require, which lacks a subject; and running down several steep slopes, which lacks both a subject and a predicate. A clause is a group of related words that has both a subject and predicate. An independent clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone in a sentence, while a dependent clause cannot. Example: Sparrows make nests in cattle barns (independent clause) so that they can stay warm during the winter (dependent clause). A sentence may be simple, compound, complex or compound-complex. A simple sentence has only one independent clause and no dependent clauses. They are relatively short. Example: My back aches. A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses. The clauses must be joined by a semicolon, or by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Example: I usually dont mind missing school, but this is not fun. A complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. Example: When I get back to school, Im actually going to appreciate it.

Finally, a compound-complex sentence contains two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Example: Yes, I have a bad flu, and because I need to get well soon, I wont think about school just yet. Vary the pattern of sentences you use, as well as the words you use to open sentences. And write your sentences predominantly in the active voice (Sarah read to Michael) rather than the passive (Michael was read to by Sarah) the active voice is more vigorous and concise. Use precise words, and be especially mindful of verbs. Keep in mind that dialogue characters talking in a story is written in sentences, primarily. Many young writers inadvertently create fragments in dialogue by using periods when they should use commas. Example: "Im an actor," Rob yelled, "not a piece of furniture!" A common mistake is to place a period after actor or yelled. Also, remember that dialogue must include attribution, at least initially. The attribution in the dialogue above is Rob yelled. Without this, the reader would not know which character is speaking. Finally, write clear sentences. Clarity is one of the hallmarks of fine writing. Dont burden the reader with needless clutter, ambiguous phrases and imprecise words.

Paragraphs
A paragraph is an organized collection of related sentences a mini-essay, in a sense. Indentation, usually five spaces in typed documents, indicates a new paragraph. Some writers, as a matter of emphasis, will use only a word, a phrase or a lone sentence in a paragraph. Likewise, because of narrow column widths, paragraphs in newspapers and magazines tend to be shorter, usually two to four sentences. Paragraphs in books and essays are longer, usually five to ten sentences or more. Paragraphs are connected by transitions. Transitions can be logical links in content or formal words and phrases such as however, although, meanwhile, moreover, also, in fact, for this reason, therefore, for example, in addition, etc. A topic sentence tells your readers what your paragraph is about. A formula for writing good topic sentences: An interesting subject + A specific feeling about the subject = An effective topic sentence. The first sentence in a paragraph is usually the topic sentence; the rest of the paragraph follows logically, providing support with examples, explanations, analysis, etc. The closing sentence can provide a link to the next paragraph or remind readers of the subject. TEEL