Grammar Help

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The good news is that grammar help is easy to find and the rules are few. The bad news is that most of what are touted as rules are not and that the rules that are rules are complex. The truth is that grammar is misunderstood and much maligned. Good writing--because that's what you're after--is a combination of grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, and good judgment (aka opinion). If you take these one at a time, the going will likely be smoother.

Grammar Help: The Elements

Understanding exactly what English grammar is is a good start. According to Webster, the definition specifies "classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence." That is, grammar includes the parts of speech, how they relate to one another, and what their roles are in a sentence. Grammar help is your walk through.

Punctuation--period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, question mark, exclamation point, and hyphen--introduces the pause points along the way that help make the entire serving digestible. Literature provides two good examples of punctuation's extremes that make this point very clear. Henry James is a Tower of Babel without the comma. Ernest Hemingway does very nicely with only a period.

A quick review on the parts of speech reveals eight: noun, pronoun, verb, preposition, conjunction, adjective, and adverb. A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Pronouns are noun stand-ins. A verb expresses action or state of being. Prepositions indicate how nouns are related to other words. Conjunctions join sentence elements, whether words, phrases, or clauses. Adjectives describe nouns. Adverbs describe verbs and adjectives. The sentence weaves this all together, giving grammar help its raison d'être.

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