Writing Tip

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The Hate Word – Grammar

My fifth and sixth grade English teachers did me a great favor, which I didn’t even realize until I was an adult.  They taught me how to build a sentence and why it is built that way.

The last period of the day in fifth grade was English class.  I sat in the very back corner because I liked to go unnoticed most of the time.  Every day Miss Boyd had a sentence written on the blackboard.  (Yes, it was that long ago.)  We would copy it down and label the parts of speech.  Then Miss Boyd would go over the sentence to make sure we got it right.

The lesson didn’t take long, and the sentences were easy to start with.  After a hundred and seventy-some sentences, I understood what the subject of the sentence was, the verb, the direct object, etc.  As a writer, I couldn’t have had a better teacher.

In sixth grade, my teacher did something probably considered fiendish today.  She had us diagram sentences.  I know some kids hated it, but I think I didn’t mind because Miss Boyd prepared us so well.

Both teachers gave me the foundation to be a writer.  If you want to write, it means you want to communicate through written words.  You can’t be understood if you don’t follow the agreed-upon rules of your language.  Once you get the rules engraved in your brain, then you know when you can break them and still communicate effectively.

A great reference guide is The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White.  It gives you a lot of rules you may already be following but never thought about, and it can help answer questions if you write something that it doesn’t look correct.

Click here for Amazon’s page for the latest edition.


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