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Grammar Review

Your certification exam expects you to be able to identify parts of speech as well as types of clauses and sentences.  You will also be expected to identify and correct errors in grammar and punctuation.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good reflection of the types of things you’ll need to know, both for your exam and in your own classroom.

Parts of Speech

Nouns are words that name people, places, things, or ideas.

Example: ECSU is a great university.

Pronouns are words that replace nouns in the sentence.

Example: ECSU is a great university.  It is located in Willimantic, Connecticut.

When the noun being replaced is the subject of the sentence, you use a subject pronoun (I, we, you, she, he, it, they).  When the noun being replaced is an object (something being acted on in the sentence), you use an object pronoun (me, us, you, her, him, it, them).

Relative pronouns are a special kind of pronoun used to introduce relative clauses (discussed below).  The most common relative pronouns are who, whom, whoever, whomever, whose, that, and which.

Example: ECSU is a university that I love.

Adjectives describe nouns.  Adjectives usually tell us which or what kind of.

Example: ECSU is a great university.  It is small.

Adverbs modify verbs.  Adverbs often end in –ly; “very” often functions as an adverb.  Adverbs tell us how, when, where, or why.

Example: I attend classes at ECSU regularly.

Verbs describe actions or states of being.

Example: I enjoy baking.  I have been baking since I was six years old.

Note that “baking” is a part of the verb in the second sentence but not in the first.  In the first sentence, “baking” is a gerund, a combination of a verb+ing that functions as a noun.  How can you tell?  Change “baking” for something you know is a noun, like pizza.  The first sentence still makes sense: “I enjoy pizza.”  That’s because we’ve substituted one noun for another.  The second sentence doesn’t make sense with the substitution of “pizza” because in that sentence “baking” is a verb.  Unless I’m a supernatural slice of cheesy goodness with the ability to talk, “I have been pizza since I was six years old” doesn’t make sense.

Conjunctions connect two independent clauses to one another.Coordinating conjunctions join two independent clauses while leaving each a full sentence.  To remember the coordinating conjunctions, remember FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.Example: I enjoy baking, but I don’t have much free time to do it.

Subordinating conjunctions connect two independent clauses by making one of them into a dependent, or subordinate, clause.  The subordinating conjunctions are after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, if only, rather than, since, that, though, unless, until, when, where, whereas, wherever, whether, which, and while.

Example: Because I don’t have much free time, I do not bake as often as I would like.

Note that “Because I don’t have much free time” couldn’t stand alone as a sentence—that’s how you know “because” is a subordinating conjunction, not a coordinating conjunction.

Prepositions work with nouns to create phrases that tell us about space, time, and direction.

The prepositions are aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, over, past, since, through, throughout, to, toward, under, underneath, until, unto, up, upon, with, within, without.

Example: I like to bake in my kitchen after work.

 Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences

A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject (a noun) and a verb.  If a clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction, it is a subordinate clauseIf a clause is introduced by a relative pronoun, it is a relative clause.  If a clause can stand alone as a sentence, it is an independent clause.  If a clause cannot stand alone as a sentence, it is a dependent clause.

Examples:

Subordinate clause: Because I don’t have much free time, I do not bake very often.

Relative clause: I like to teach students who love brownies.

Independent clause: I like to teach.

Dependent clause: [both the subordinate and relative clauses above]

A phrase, unlike a clause, does not contain both a subject and a verb.  If a phrase is introduced by a preposition, it is called a prepositional phrase 

Examples: in the kitchen, aboard the ship, below the evening sky

A simple sentence includes one independent clause and no dependent clauses.

Example: I like to teach.

A compound sentence contains multiple independent clauses and no dependent clauses.  Look for the FANBOYS conjunctions—they tell you that you are looking at either a compound or a compound-complex sentence.

Examples: I don’t enjoy studying for the Praxis, but I will enjoy getting my teaching license.

A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.  Look for the subordinating conjunctions and the relative pronouns—they tell you that you are looking at either a complex or a compound-complex sentence.

Examples:Because I don’t have much free time, I do not bake very often.

I like to teach students who love brownies.

A compound-complex sentence contains multiple independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

Example: Because I don’t have much free time, I do not bake very often, but, when I do, the experience reminds me why I’ve always loved making sweet treats.

A fragmentisn’t a full sentence—it’s a dependent clause or a phrase that cannot stand alone that the writer has incorrectly treated like a full sentence.

Example: Because I love to bake.

When I was a girl at my grandmother’s house for the summer.

A Quick Note on Comma Splices

Your certification exams will expect to you recognize errors like fragments, subject-verb agreement, and comma splices.  A comma cannot join two independent clauses; when a comma is used to do so, the result is a comma splice.  Comma splices can be corrected by changing the comma to a period or a semicolon or by adding a conjunction.

Need more info?  Visit https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/

Need to practice applying this language? Visit http://chompchomp.com/exercises.htm