Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 127: Reflexive Pronouns

Last week we discussed subjective (used as subject) and objective (used as object) pronouns. If you are one who is unsure of whether to say “Then she gave it to her and I” or “Then she gave it to her and me,” go back and read those last two posts for help.

I want to continue with the pronoun theme, but discuss the use of myself. This actually trips me up more often than I care to admit, and I study grammar and writing on a daily basis!

First of all, myself, yourself, and ourselves are pronouns known as reflexive pronouns. That is, they reflect back to the antecedent (a noun or pronoun earlier in the sentence).

 When we say that Donna is the antecedent to herself in the sentence “Donna gave herself a pat on the back,” we are saying that herself is a pronoun and Donna is the antecedent (the word that herself refers back to).

So, reflexive pronouns reflect or refer back to another word. They cannot be used alone (i.e. myself can not be used without a noun or pronoun earlier in the sentence (as its antecedent).

1.       I bought myself some candy. (Myself refers back to/is reflexive of I.)
2.       Donna bought herself some candy. (Herself refers back to/is reflexive of Donna.)
3.       He looked at himself in the mirror. (Himself refers back to/is reflexive of He.)

The key to understanding and using reflexive pronouns is to not use them by themselves!

Thus, you wouldn’t say the following:

1.       Ray and myself went to town. (There is no noun for myself to refer back to. You need the subjective I in this sentence…Ray and I.)
2.       They gave it to him and myself. (Same thing—no noun or pronoun for myself to refer back to.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 126: Wordy Wednesday—root TEN

I missed Wordy Wednesday, and it’s nearly time for another one! Keeping with our root word theme, today we are going to look at TEN and variations of it.


Definition: STRETCH or THIN

What words do we already know with this root? What can we know about each word—even if we do not know it before?

  1. tension
  2. extend
  3. tendency
  4. tendon
  5. tent
  6. distend
  7. intent
  8. tenable
  9. attention
  10. detention
  11. extent
  12. retention
  13. ostentatious
  14. malcontent
  15. potent

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 125: Subjective and Objective Pronouns Part II of II

So why do you need to know the difference between subjective and objective pronouns if you are not likely to say Me going to town or Give that to I?

The problem with the subjective and objective pronoun does not occur when only one pronoun is present (though I do occasionally hear someone say something like, “Them aren’t ripe yet…”

The problem comes when you have two pronouns at or near the beginning of your sentence (subjective pronouns, hopefully!) or two pronouns at or near the end of your sentence (objective pronouns, hopefully!):

1.      She and I are coming over.
2.      He and she are late.

1.      Give that gift to him and her.
2.      We will present them and her with a gift later.

“Single Pronoun Test”: The key to using the correct pronouns in this case is to say each pronoun by itself in the sentence (without the second one) to see if it sounds correct:

1.      Correct: She and I are coming over.
a.       She is coming over.
b.      I am coming over.
2.      Incorrect: Her and I are coming over.
a.       Her is coming over (wrong!).
b.      I am coming over.

3.      Correct: Give that gift to him and her.
a.       Give that gift to him.
b.      Give that gift to her.
4.      Incorrect: Give that give to him and she.
a.       Give that gift to him.
b.      Give that gift to she (wrong!).

The problem also occurs with a pronoun and noun combination:
1.      Correct: Jon and I are coming over.
a.       Jon is coming over.
b.      I am coming over.

2.      Incorrect: Jon and me are coming over.
a.       Jon is coming over.
b.      Me is coming over (wrong!).

3.      Correct: Give that gift to Jake and her.
a.       Give that gift to Jake.
b.      Give that gift to her.

4.      Incorrect: Give that gift to Jake and she.
a.       Give that gift to Jake.
b.      Give that gift to she (wrong!).

Again, unless you are 100% sure of your subjective and objective pronouns (and even then you might have tricky situations in which the "Single Pronoun Test" would help), you can run into problems with pronoun use.

Use the “Single Pronoun Test” when you are unsure—and you will almost always “hear” the correct way to write it/speak it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 124: Subjective and Objective Pronouns Part I of II

Without being too heavy on the grammar (which is nearly impossible when talking about writing or speaking, which is why it is important that grammar is paired with writing whenever possible). I want to discuss subjective and objective pronouns--and when to use each one.

First, we teach our students in our books that a pro-noun is "for a noun"--that is, it often takes the place of a noun. This is the most elementary description of a pronoun and one that is often accurate. (Of course, there are various classes and types of pronouns that can be extremely confusing, but for the instruction in subjective and objective ones, we will stick with the idea that pronouns are FOR nouns.)

Most everybody knows that we say I at the beginning of a sentence: I am going to the store.

And we say me at the end of a sentence: Give it to me.

But do we really know why?

The reason is because at the beginning of a sentence, generally speaking (and not utilizing sentence openers before the subject), the first part of a sentence contains the subject.

And generally speaking, a word at the end of a sentence is not a subject, but is an object.

And we all know that it is wrong to say Me am going to the store and Give it to I.

We usually understand that pronouns that are used as subjects (that is, subjective ones) include, but are not limited to, I, you, he, she, they, we. (Remember, these are used to tell who are what is doing the action--the sentence's subject.)

We also usually understand that pronouns that are used as objects (that is, objective ones) include, but are not limited to, me, you, him, her, them, us.

So...why worry about subjective and objective pronouns at all? Join us tomorrow to find out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 123: Independence Day/July 4th

The capitalization of this holiday isn't the grammar/writing issue. It's the spelling!

Of course, like any other holiday, both words are capitalized:

Independence Day

Or if written with the informal name: July 4th.

Spelling independence is a little more of an issue.

You may find long lists of rules for ent/ence vs ant/ance if you begin a study on this--many of which are so confusing and detailed (emphasis on the fourth syllable from the right, use ent!! okay..that's stretching it...) that an average person cannot decipher them much less memorize them.

When rules are too detailed and confusing, a writer is better off memorizing spellings or using spell check.

I will leave you with two simple rules for ent/ence that I think are actually helpful:

1. Use ent/ence (not ant/ance) if the root you are adding it to ends with c or g:
    diligence, innocent

    This rule actually makes sense because if you used ant/ance, the c would then say kuh (innocant--innokant) and the g would then say juh (diligant--dili-gant).

2. Use ent/ence if the root you are adding it to ends with d:

Hope this helps--and hope you had a happy July 4th!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 122: Wordy Wednesday—SUPER!

More root word learning for this week’s Wordy Wednesday. But before that, I have to ask if you are using what you already know? Are you examining unknown words and asking yourself  if there is anything about that word that you already know—a root, prefix, or suffix?

Today’s root: SUPER, SUR, SUM   

Meaning: ABOVE

What do you already know about this ABOVE root:
  1. surpass—to go above and beyond
  2. summit—above; the high mountain or peak
  3. supersede—to be above in authority,  etc.
  4. superstition—a  belief that is ABOVE the normal
  5. super star—a star above others



Sunday, June 26, 2011

day 121: june holidays

June is quickly getting away from us! I did not post the "official" spelling for all (two!) of the June US-nationally-recognized holidays, so here they are:

1. Flag Day
    a. No possessives to deal with!
    b. Capitalize both words as both are words in the actual holiday
    c. Bonus: Great holiday since I was born on this date! :)

2. Father's Day
   a. We went through this earlier--but remember--one father; his day: father's
   b. Cap both words!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

day 120: wordy wednesday—root “spec”

Do you remember how I talked earlier about how we (and our students if we are teachers) know much more than we think we do! There is no place that this is more apparent than vocabulary learning!

Root words, and sometimes even syllables, have meaning. And we often already know meanings of bits and pieces that we can put together to gain more knowledge. (If you know a foreign language, you will have even more success unlocking unknown words or parts of words since much of our language is taken from other languages.)

How can you use this concept to help you or your students? When you come to an unfamiliar word, don’t assume that you do not know it. Look more closely at the word. (And help your kids to do the same—question them all the time: “What do you know about the ‘aqua’ part of aquamarine?” [Or even, “What do you know about the ‘marine’ part?”)

Today’s  root is SPEC, SPIC, or SPIT

It means LOOK or SEE

What do you already know about these “spec,” “spic,” and “spit” words?
  1. Perspective—seeing a point of view
  2. Aspect—one part or one thing you can see
  3. Spectator—one who sees
  4. Spectacle—a sight to see
  5. Suspect—a person you see that might be guilty
  6. Others???
Keep reading. Keep asking yourself what you already know!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

day 119: happy father’s day

Father’s Day presents some of the same challenges in writing as Mother’s Day. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is written with a capital letter at the beginning of each word—and is written as a day for the singular father—not plural (fathers).

The “official” take on that goes like this (according to encyclopedias as well as the Chicago Manual of Style):

“Although the name of the event is usually understood as a plural possessive (i.e. ‘day belonging to fathers’), which would under normal English punctuation guidelines be spelled ‘Fathers' Day,’ the most common spelling is ‘Father's Day,’ as if it were a singular possessive (i.e. ‘day belonging to Father’). In the United States, Dodd used the ‘Fathers' Day’ spelling on her original petition for the holiday, but the spelling ‘Father's Day’ was already used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the United States Congress.”

So…Happy Father’s day to my father, my children’s father—and all fathers—regardless of whether it is written in a singular or plural possessive manner!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

day 118: wording Wednesday—root/prefix dict

Many of my full time language arts students (those who come to class each week during the academic year to help us test our complete language arts curriculum) use the root/prefix “dict” each week—as they take “dictation” over the passage of material in our book. They label their papers Dict then the unit we are in and the date. They even call it “dict” time—which is so appropriate since the root “dict” literally means “word”—and they are writing down many words when they take dictation!

We will look at the root/prefix “dict” today!

DICT, DIT, DIC—means to tell, to say, or word

Like we always tell our students—focus on something you already know in order to understand the unknown. In my students’ case, they take “dictation” (writing down words) every week—so they can remember that dict has something to do with words. If you are of my generation, you might remember television programs in which secretaries use a Dictaphone to take dictation from their boss.

Consider what you already know to unlock the unknown! If you have kids, repeat this to them over and over again to help them in their learning and to encourage them about their vast store of knowledge.

Take a look at some words containing dic/dict/dit---and see how they can mean what they do—with to tell, to say, or word :
  1. Dictate—to speak words to someone (for that person to write)
  2. Verdict—a word/determination that was spoken at the end of a trial
  3. Edict—words that are authority or law/rule
  4. Contradict—contra means opposite; dict means word—opposite of the words that someone spoke
  5. Predict—pre means before; dict means word—speak words before they happen
  6. Diction—the pattern of someone’s speech
What other dit/dict/dic words do you know? When you see dic/dit/dict in a word—even if you do not know any other part of the word—use what you do know and the words within the sentence to unlock the meaning.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

day 117: commas and periods inside ending quotation marks

Image from kswptim.wordpress

If you are an avid reader, and especially if you are an avid reader of British literature, you may find yourself being led astray in the whole “commas and periods inside or outside of ending quotation mark” quandary.  Why? Because British usage is different than American usage when it comes to this little rule.

The first rule that we teach in our writing books about quotation marks is this: Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside the final quotation mark:
  1. She said, “Let’s go now.”
  2. “Let’s go now,” she said.
  3. He was reading the article, “Baby Geniuses.”
  4. He was reading the article, “Baby Geniuses,” and he lost track of time.
Regardless of the reason for the quotation  mark use (i.e. for a quote in 1 and 2 above or to show a minor work {article title} in 3 and 4), the ending period and comma always go inside the final quotation mark in US usage.

The reason that you might see it differently could be that you are reading a British author. (British usage bases the placement of the comma and period inside or outside of the quotation mark on whether the period/comma is part of the quoted material, like US grammar does for question marks and exclamation marks.) Or, it could be an error—I see this error more often than any other one error.

So remember this for you American writers/students: Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the final quotation mark—never on the outside, regardless of the use in the sentence.

Monday, June 13, 2011

day 116: happy anniversary or Happy Anniversary!

Today is my thirtieth wedding anniversary! Lots of well-wishes have been coming our way on FaceBook and in person--and I am in quite the celebratory mood! :)

Of course, any written words spark interesting discussions about grammar and usage (in my head at least!). And with my anniversary today and my birthday tomorrow, these greetings warrant a little "language lady" attention!

Obviously, happy, birthday, and anniversary are not proper nouns in themselves. However, when you write these as greetings, they should be capitalized.

Thus, you would capitalize

Happy Birthday!
Happy 39th Birthday! (LOL!)
Happy Anniversary!
Happy 30th Anniversary!

However, you would not capitalize these same words within a sentence when describing a birthday or anniversary: I had a happy anniversary. I enjoyed by day and had a happy birthday.

So...Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to me! :) and Happy Flag Day (tomorrow!) to you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

day 115: wordy wednesday

Now that we know how to spell the word Wednesday, we are going to add a new feature to Language Lady 365. If you desire to increase your vocabulary for professional or personal reasons; are preparing for standardized testing or college; or want to help your kids learn vocabulary better, you won’t want to miss Wordy Wednesdays! (Yesk I know it's Thursday--I didn't get this up last night!)

Wordy Wednesday will be a vocabulary-building day each week. Sometimes I will introduce a “word that everybody should know” type of word from test preparation or collections with these types of lists. Other times we will focus on prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Basically, all types of vocabulary learning—your weekly “shot” of wordsmith learning!

At the beginning of the year, I described the importance of roots and affixes in helping our children learn vocabulary: “Discussing words (roots, affixes, etc.) should be a part of our daily discussion with our kids. Even if our kids go to school, we have to look at ourselves as our children’s first teachers. There are so many things that we can teach them casually—homeschoolers or not.”

Not long ago in literature class, our son (Joshua, one of our TFT teachers) asked the students what words they knew that contained the prefix “pro,” meaning “for.” He got the usual answers—pro-life; prolific; pro-football, etc. And then his clever “little brother,” Josiah, said, “’Propane’---means that we are ‘for pain’!” Have fun with vocabulary building—and your kids will not forget it, for sure (nor will you)!

So today, we will start with a common root—a root that can help you unlock the meaning of many other words: gen.

GEN is a root meaning birth, race, or kind.

From this root, we get many common words that most of us are familiar with, including, but not limited to, the following list:
  1. Generous
  2. Generate
  3. Generation
  4. Genealogy
  5. Gender
  6. Genocide
  7. Generic

But roots are not limited to the beginnings of words—they are found buried within longer words as well. Consider the following words with gen somewhere in them. How does the meaning of gen—birth, race, or kind—fit into the meanings of these words:
1.    Agency
2.    Intelligence
3.    Resurgent
4.    Agenda
5.    Allergen
6.    Pathogen
7.    Oxygen
8.    Carcinogen
9.    Divergent
10. Emergency
11. Degenerate
12. Negligence
13. Legends
14. Estrogen
15. Homogenate
16. Ingenuity

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

day 114: spelling wednesday part ii of ii

So what can you do if you have difficulty spelling Wednesday? Try any of the methods above.

Or try our combination syllabication/tricky trick of syllabicating it AND pronouncing each syllable (including the “silent letters” of the word) as you write it:


Be sure to pronounce it like the following sounds as you spell it (not the way it really sounds):

  1. Wed
  2. Nes (short e like ness)
  3. Day

Happy Wednesday!

day 113: spelling Wednesday part i of ii

So many of my students have trouble spelling today’s day of the week! Wednesday is definitely not phonetic, so students (and adults!) get stuck on the spelling of it. Most people say Wednesday without the sound of the d at all.

We teach our students to spell difficult words in many ways, giving them as many tools as we possibly can.

1.    Syllable by syllable—longer words that are phonetic in nature can often be syllabicated and spelled syllable by syllable by a student who is fairly phonetically-savvy: con/se/quence.
2.    Tricks and mnemonics—we call these “Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick” and use them often with our “Wacky Words”—words that have a wacky counterpart that can be confusing, such as the homophones their, there, and they’re. I had an elementary student this year who told the class that they could easily spell Nebuchadnezzar if they just divided it up and pronounced the ch as choo (not kuh): Neb/U/Chad/Nez/Zar! Of course, any tricks that help a person are handy tools to have (though the trick must help that person in order to be effective).
3.    Visual tricks—many visual people spell by “seeing” the word—its shape, its sequence of letters (and the shapes those letters make), etc.
4.    Memorization—some people  are just naturally good spellers (it is now thought to be a specific skill set separate from intelligence) and can memorize a word’s spelling once it is seen.

More on “Wednesday” in the next post!

Monday, June 6, 2011

day 112: lightning vs lightening

Another Wacky Word pair for you!

With all of the storms in the US over the past month, I have seen my share of lightning/lightening used incorrectly. So, let's get it right before the next bout of bad weather! :)


1. This is the electricity in the sky!
2. It's light + ning


1. This is when something is lightened or made lighter.
2. It comes from the base word lighten--This will lighten my load.
3. Lighten+ing

If you think of the base word of each, you will not mistaken them for each other so easily--light (for lightning) and lighten (for lightening).

I hope the amount of lightning (and thunder and tornadoes!) starts to lighten (lessen) soon!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

day 111: "catch phrase"

I love a new site I just discovered--and thought any wordy people (or anyone writing practically anything--letters, thank-you notes, stories, essays, etc.) would enjoy hearing about it.

It is called Phrase Up--and I give it a hearty thumbs up! This amazing "search engine" allows you to type part of a phrase (colloquialisms, analogies, metaphors, or just common phrases) and put an * in the parts that you are missing. Then voila! It brings up a list of possible phrases that you  might be looking for. (Watch out! It's addicting for wordsmiths!)

Again, this may be a great help to get just the right phrase or tone in a cover letter or thank-you note. To get the perfect metaphor for a story. And so much more. I think you'll like it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

day 110: more prepositions as other parts of speech

I think I confused more than helped in my last post about "coming with..." I am going to elaborate a bit on the different uses that words that are commonly prepositions might have in writing:

1. First of all, a word is seldom a certain part of speech in isolation. Words are called parts of speech because they are used in a certain way in speech (and writing). Thus, it is often incorrect to say that, for instance, a dog is a noun. You can be dog tired. You can dog somebody to pay you. A part of speech is a part of speech when it is used--not in isolation.

2. Thus, the preposition as other parts of speech problem. We have students memorize lists of prepositions (though we prefer to have them use them in Check Sentences, again, because that is how "parts of speech" are used)--but we have to remember that those prepositions are only prepositions when they are used as prepositions--how is that for confusing? Remember, a preposition must have an object following it in order to be considered as being used as a preposition.

3. Examples!!! I will list prepositions below to show how they may be used as prepositions or how they may be used as other parts of speech--again, in context.

a. Over
    i. I am coming over. (Adverb--tells where you are coming....)
    ii. Jump over the water. (Preposition--begins the prepositional phrase (PP for short): over the water...)

b. Down
  i. He fell down. (Adverb--tells where he fell..)
  ii. We rode down the hill. (Preposition--begins the PP down the hill...)

c. Before
  i. Before we go to class, let's check our backpacks. (Subordinator--before is used as a subordinator beginning the subordinate clause before we go to class--a subordinate clause is a clause (subject/verb) that begins with a subordinator and is not a real sentence by itself.)

  ii. I heard that story before. (Adverb--tells when you heard that story...)

  iii. He has to go before the leaders. (Preposition--begins the PP before the leaders...)

Hope this helps! Feel free to write in questions--if I don't know the answer, I will look the question up in my 600 page reference! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

day 109: another pet peeve--"I'm going to come with"

Another pet peeve of mine is popping up everywhere, so I thought I would share with our readers what it is and why it sounds so incorrect to me. 

This pet peeve is people using the preposition with as an adverb (or, in the case of my daughter--with an understood object of the preposition--her way of using grammar terms to justify its use!). 

Here is the run down on what I see as this pet peeve's problem:

1. First of all,  yes, words have multiple uses and parts of speech everywhere all the time. This is one reason why we advocate only using grammar programs for children that have the words used--not lists of words in which the student is to identify what part of speech it is. A part of speech is determined by the word's use, not the word itself:
     a. jump--a student might determine that jump is a verb...which it can be. But it can also be a noun (she made a huge jump) and an adjective (it was a jump start program).
     b. to--a student might determine that to is a preposition...which it can be. But it can also be part of a verbal phrase known as an infinitive (to run).

2. With is not one of those "multiple use" kinds of words. With is almost always (and probably always) a preposition. 
   a. With is a preposition because a preposition is a word that shows possession, has an object with it (the object of the preposition), and is the beginning of a prepositional phrase: with her, with the show, with the leader.
  b. With is seldom, if ever, used alone as an adverb (like many other prepositions can be):
      i. She is going along. (Along is an adverb here.)
      ii. She ran along the trail. (Along is a preposition here.)

     iii. I told him to jump down. (Down is an adverb here.)
    iv. He ran down the street. (Down is a preposition here.)

3. With is not an adverb by itself. It is not the kind of word that can stand alone as another part of speech. It is a preposition that needs an object to show a relationship (with whom? with what?).

So...tell who you are going with--and use with as a preposition, the way it was intended to be used! Smile...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

day 108: weary vs wary

The other day as I was reading aloud to my sons out of a book about Clara Barton, I came across a sentence that i read, then re-read, then re-read again. It was about Clara Barton, the founder of the US Red Cross during the Civil War, becoming weary on the battle front. I was sure that the author had misused the word weary--and really needed wary. It was then and there that I decided that the concept of weary and wary warranted its own "Tricky Trick to Help It Stick"!

Weary is a word that means tired or overwhelmed from something, such as too much work, no rest, difficult circumstances, etc.

Wary is a word that means to be paranoid or suspicious.

Both words are adjectives, meaning they describe nouns (or sometimes pronouns, in the case of predicate adjectives: I am weary.).

So, what can we use for a Tricky Trick?

Well, I will propose one that has worked for me since my Clara Barton encounter--see if it helps you as well:

1. The day was dreary, so she grew weary--just remember that the spellings are the same--dreary and weary (dreary weather makes you tired or weary!).

2. The  salesman was scary, so the buyers were wary--just remember that the spellings are the same--scary and wary (a scary saleperson makes you wary or suspicious/paranoid).

Now, I hope you don't get weary in your grammar studies--or wary when you write a sentence using weary/wary! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

day 107: showing possession

In writing Mother's Day, I reminded you that the day belongs to one mother--your mother. Thus, you write Mother, then you show possession to the word mother: Mother's Day.

Possession can be so tricky because we think of whether the word is singular or possessive; we contemplate whether the apostrophe should be on the inside or outside of the s, etc. It doesn't need to be that complicated! You are probably thinking too hard!

Tricky Trick to Help It Stick: Do not worry about whether the word you want to show possession to is singular or plural.
     1. Just write the word you want to show possession to
     2. Then see if it does or does not end in an s:
              a. If it DOES end in an s, just put apostrophe on the outside of the s that is already there (s')
                       i. glass
                       ii. glass' rim
             b. It it does NOT end in an s, add apostrophe s ('s)
                      i. cup
                     ii. cup's rim

day 106: may holidays

May is halfway over! And so are May's holidays! Here is a list of the holidays for May, spelled and punctuated correctly:

*Mother's Day
   1. Remember, you have one mother--the day belongs to her...
   2. Show possession of mother by writing the singular word mother--doesn't end in an s, so we put 's to show possession to it***
  3. Cap M and cap D

*Memorial Day
   1. No s or 's in this holiday
   2. Cap M and cap D

***HINT: Do not worry about whether the word you want to show possession to is singular or plural.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

day 104: another thing that bugs me---who wore it best?

I was flipping through a magazine at the beauty shop the other day and came upon another of my pet peeves---the “who wore it best” feature of a celebrity magazine. The pet peeve of this stems from the fact that there are two gals wearing the outfit—but the question asked is “Who wore it best?” If only two people are being compared, it would definitely be “Who wore it better?”

The rule for this is the comparative and superlative forms of words—

Comparative words are used to compare two things or one thing to one other thing:

  1. better, worse, more
  2. She wore it better than the other gal.
  3. He is taller than she.

Superlative words are used to compare one thing to many:

  1. best, worst, most
  2. She wore it best out of all of the celebrities.
  3. He is the tallest in the room (of many).

Oftentimes, it is not clear what comparison is being made—and it can be tricky (and even subjective) to determine whether the comparative or superlative should be used. However, in cases where it is extremely clear (two people or things being compared), it should not be that difficult to do it properly.

So….the first article—with two gals wearing the same dress—should ask “Who wore it better?” but the next page—with three girls wearing the dress—was correct to ask “Who wore it best?” J

day 103: wacky words---breathe and breath

Another Wacky Word pair that trips people up is that of breathe and breath. (The latest sign I saw of this had to do with helping people to "breath clean air"!)

This pair is tricky, along with all of the ea pairs, because ea says short e and long e--all by itself. For example:

1. Today I will read the book.
2. The leaf fell to the ground.
3. The thief is going to steal the diamond.

The key to knowing whether to use breath or breathe is to consider the pairs that do have e at the end--it is there to show that, that word is the long e one (not the short e one).

For example:

1. Take a deep breath (breth--short e).
2. Breathe deeply (long e).

3.  He took great pleasure in it (short e--plezz).
4. They want to please him (long e).

While there isn't a fullproof trick (like their/there and affect/effect), it does help to keep in mind that if one of the set has an e at the end of it, it is there for a reason--in these cases, to make the first vowel say its long sound--breathe (long e) vs. breath (short e).

day 102: creating an environment conducive to learning to read part iii of iii

 Children who learn to read naturally, without reading instruction, are raised in an environment that is conducive to learning to read naturally—an environment that creates a love for learning and a very perceived need to learn.

While I have never had a natural reader myself, I tried all throughout my children’s learning days to create this type of environment. It has created outstanding learners and avid readers in the Reish home.

One of the “rules” that Ray and I had for our children’s early education was that if something could be taught informally (and painlessly), we would teach it that way (as opposed to using workbooks or “curriculum” for something that can just as easily be learned while driving down the road or snuggling on the sofa).

That is one thing that I truly loved about the “natural reader learning environment.” Why get a workbook to teach capital letters when you can teach it while you are running errands (from all of the store signs)? Why get a program for rhyming words when nursery rhymes, silly songs, and I spy games on the road can do the job without the stress? The “natural reader learning environment” fit how we thought young children should be taught—regardless of whether our kids truly became natural readers or not.

The environment described in the last couple of days’ posts is extremely conducive to teaching a myriad of things that kindergarten and first grade curricula often use workbooks, worksheets, and other “formal” approaches. And kids do not even know they are doing “school” with Mom and Dad while running to the hardware store or cuddling during an extensive story time!

Here are just a few of the skills that the research on natural readers indicated are learned/enjoyed by kids in this environment:

1. Contact with print

2. Thinking skills

3. Comprehension (especially when a wide variety of materials is presented and discussion follows)

4. Expanded vocabulary

5. Enunciation and pronunciation

6. Love of and need for reading

7. Sentence patterns

8. Relationship between parent and child---the most important one of all, of course!

Create a “natural reader learning environment” in your home—regardless of your kids’ ages….and watch the interaction with print increase; the love for learning grow; and the positive relationships bloom.