Ellen

Discombobulate and the Thesaurus

I found myself using the word discombobulated several times recently, understandable in this age of pandemic/COVID-19. It was a word my father, also an English teacher and scholar, would use. After writing the recent post on wordsmiths and lexicographers, I was curious to turn to dictionaries, as well as thesauruses, to explore the meaning and …

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Lexicographers and other wordsmiths

Writers are wordsmiths, whether they are following the Queen’s English (“educated British”) or American Standard English (“professional style”) or the slang of contemporary music. This post is inspired by the recent deaths of two wordsmiths: one is the prominent Irish poet, Eavan Boland who shook up the poetical male field with her focus on a …

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How writers can use grammar for revision

The previous post focused on how writers can use grammar to improve their writing style. Called stylistic or rhetorical grammar, writers can use their knowledge of grammar stylistic analysis, choices, and revision. Mark S. LeTourneau, in English Grammar, enumerated these three applications of grammar to style, with a focus on sentence combining to create complex, …

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How can writers use grammar?

In this blog’s discussions of grammar and usage issues, we’ve looked at a wide variety of areas, including usage conventions, grammatical and punctuation “errors,” the history and evolving nature of the English language, and approaches to understanding its grammar. These considerations are necessarily brief, rather than comprehensive. But the goal has been to provide recommendations …

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History of English Grammar Instruction – An Overview

This post presents a brief overview of the history of English grammar instruction. I recently heard a discussion of how young people – Millennials and Generation Z – have not been taught American history, do not know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I don’t know about this “decline” in …

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Brief history of English and its influence

In continuing the discussion of English grammar and language, this post examines how and why the English Language became perhaps the most influential linguistic medium the work has ever known. In addition to being the dominant language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific …

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Why study grammar?

In two earlier posts, we examined the grammar of the English sentence – both the unconscious knowledge of native speakers (What is grammar?) and the conscious application of grammar to the analysis of sentences through diagramming or linguistic trees (Parsing the English Sentence). Because native English speakers follow the rules of English grammar mostly unconsciously, …

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