Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students

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by Mignon Fogarty, Erwin Haya
     
 

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Named to the International Reading Association's 2012 Teachers' Choice book list

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students is a complete and comprehensive guide to all things grammar from Grammar Girl, a.k.a. Mignon Fogarty, whose popular podcasts have been downloaded over twenty million times and whose first book, Grammar

Overview

Named to the International Reading Association's 2012 Teachers' Choice book list

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students is a complete and comprehensive guide to all things grammar from Grammar Girl, a.k.a. Mignon Fogarty, whose popular podcasts have been downloaded over twenty million times and whose first book, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, was a New York Times bestseller.

For beginners to more advanced students, this guide covers it all: the parts of speech, sentences, and punctuation are all explained clearly and concisely with the warmth, wit, and accessibility Grammar Girl is known for. Pop quizzes are scattered throughout to reinforce the explanations, as well as Grammar Girl's trademark Quick and Dirty Tips—easy and fun memory tricks to help with those challenging rules.

Complete with a writing style chapter and a guide to the different kinds of writing—everything from school papers to letter writing to e-mails—this guide is sure to become the one-stop, essential book on every student's desk.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Budding writers will find it invaluable.” —School Library Journal

“This guide is accessible to all, whether writing is limited to texting and e-mailing or creating the next great novel…Fogarty has succeeded in furnishing students with a witty guide to an often-challenging part of daily life.” —VOYA

“As a guide to dip into and peruse, it will be a solid and enjoyable resource for writers everywhere.” —Kirkus Reviews

The Ultimate Writing Guide for Students [goes] beyond vocabulary into grammar and the structure of writing. But it's not a dry, boring reference ... this guide is both informative and user-friendly...The main message [is]: You can write; here are the tools.” —Lisa McLendon, The News & Observer (Raleigh)

Children's Literature - Dawna Lisa Buchanan
Have you been longing for a style book that covers everything you never wanted to know about grammar but had to face anyway? Fogarty's beautifully organized book is filled with wit, real-life examples, and a few fictional characters who accompany Grammar Girl and the readers throughout this detailed compendium. In her introduction the author suggests that "If by the end of this book you find yourself addicted to grammar, to the many wonders of the comma, or to spotting apostrophe misuses, don't fight it. Embrace your inner grammar guru" (page 2). Some of the text is highlighted in orange ink and enhanced with text boxes and cartoon sketches. The book is structured into five chapters, including "Quick and Dirty Tips" (which explores all kinds of exceptions and the more unusual rules of English usage) and includes an appendix, a quick reference guide, a glossary and a bibliography. Fogarty is hip—she has a podcast on iTunes and a website. She addresses the practical reasons for today's generation to be proficient in grammar, such as emails, text messages and school papers. As she puts it, this knowledge will help make "...the world...your oyster. Or your pizza. I prefer pizza" (page 3). Librarians, teachers, students in middle school through university, and any adult who writes for a living will very much appreciate this book. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This text is evenly divided into five sections: parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation, usage, and a final segment on how readers can improve their writing. Fogarty's style mimics her podcasts with pithy but helpful rules and advice laced with examples. Pop quizzes and cartoon illustrations are also included. Libraries should purchase this book for reference use if nothing else, but budding writers will find it invaluable.—Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI
Kirkus Reviews

As she does in previous volumes—Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (2008) and The Grammar Devotional (2009)—Fogarty affects an earnest and upbeat tone to dissuade those who think a grammar book has to be "annoying, boring, and confusing" and takes on the role of "grammar guide, intent on demystifying grammar."

Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style. Fogarty works hard to find amusing, even cheeky examples to illustrate the many faux pas she discusses: "Squiggly presumed that Grammar Girl would flinch when she saw the word misspelled as alot." Young readers may well look beyond the cheery tone and friendly cover, though, and find a 300+-page text that looks suspiciously schoolish and isn't really that different from the grammar texts they have known for years (and from which they have still not learned a lot of grammar). As William Strunk said in his introduction to the first edition of the little The Elements of Style, the most useful grammar guide concentrates attention "on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated." After that, "Students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work." By being exhaustive, Fogarty may well have created just the kind of volume she hoped to avoid.

However, as a guide to dip into and peruse, it will be a solid and enjoyable resource for writers everywhere. (Reference. 12 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429966665
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/05/2011
Series:
Quick & Dirty Tips
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
119,763
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students


By Mignon Fogarty, Ewin Haya

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2011 Mignon Fogarty
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6666-5



CHAPTER 1

Parts of Speech

IN THESE NEXT few chapters, think of me as your grammar guide, intent on demystifying grammar. I'm a practical person — I've given people batteries and socks as birthday presents. That is what I want to give you, the things everyone will use — the batteries and socks of writing.

In order to do that, we need a common language between the professionals and us. If I quickly spewed out terms like antecedents, future progressive tense, and subjunctive verbs, you'd probably run away screaming, but you do need to know some of these terms and what they mean. I promise to explain these words (and their usefulness) and, if I can, give you other words to use in their place.

To begin, you need to know the parts of speech, the function of different groups of words. In Chapter Two, you'll use this knowledge to put together sentences. After that, punctuation. Then the world is your oyster.

Or your pizza.

I prefer pizza.


1-1 NOUNS

A noun is a person, place, or thing. Things can be concrete, like rocks, or abstract ideas, like courage or purpose. Nouns are divided into two types: proper nouns and common nouns.

Proper nouns name specific people, places, or things, such as Grammar Girl, Mississippi River, and Golden Gate Bridge. They are names. On the other hand, common nouns name general people, places, or things. The words girl, river, and bridge aren't capitalized because they are common nouns that don't name any one individual person, place, or thing.

To learn how these general capitalization rules apply to specific words, such as nicknames, planets, seasons, directions, and dog breeds, see Appendix section A-1.


1-2 PLURALS: NOUNS, NOUNS EVERYWHERE

You have one computer, but you'd love another one. Easy — at least on paper. Add an s. Ta-da! You have two computers (or more). Magic!

It's fairly easy to make nouns plural. The last letter or letters of the word determine what you need to do.

Usually, you just add s.

action actions
hole holes
pencil pencils


When the word ends in ch, s, sh, x, or z, add es.

birch birches
fox foxes
klutz klutzes
platypus platypuses
thrush thrushes


When the word ends in y, look at the letter before y. If it's a vowel, add s.

holiday holidays
key keys


If the letter before y is a consonant, change the y to i and then add es.

rally rallies


Words that end in o don't follow specific rules; some words take an s to become plural and other words take an es to become plural. You have to memorize the spellings.

cello cellos
echo echoes
kangaroo kangaroos
tomato tomatoes


Making Abbreviations Plural

Add s to make abbreviations plural, but make sure it's a small s, not a capitalized one (and don't use an apostrophe). The rule is the same regardless of whether the abbreviation has periods.

CD CDs
DVD
DVDs
M.D.
M.D.s


See section 3-34 for how to make single letters plural.


Tricky Nouns: Mouse? Mice? Meese?

With some nouns, you just have to know what the plural is, such as mice (for mouse), teeth (for tooth), deer (for deer), knives (for knife), children (for child), and oxen (for ox). Some of our words retain qualities of Latin or other languages they came from, so their plurals aren't formed in a standard way. Examples include appendices (plural of appendix), phenomena (plural of phenomenon), and bases (plural of basis).

If you're not sure what the plural form of a word is, go to the dictionary. The dictionary is your friend — honest. It will give you the plural of the word if the plural isn't standard.


Check It Out

Rarely, language experts will say you can choose between two acceptable plural forms of a noun. For example, when you're talking about a computer mouse, the plural can be either mice or mouses, and although most people who work with plants prefer the plural cacti, most dictionaries say either cacti or cactuses is fine. Index becomes indices when you're writing about math or science, but in other cases it is usually made plural as indexes; and although buses is the preferred plural of bus, you can also go with busses. When in doubt, check a dictionary. The first plural form listed is the one that is most common.


1-3 VERBS: READY, CAMERA, ACTION

We have our people, places, and things — nouns — established, but they're not doing anything. We have to get those things, people, and ideas moving. Enter the verb! Verbs add movement to your writing. Like nouns, verbs come in different categories.


1-4 TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE VERBS

The first way you can put verbs in groups is to separate them into transitive and intransitive piles. There's an easy way to remember those names, which I'll get to in a minute.

Transitive verbs take their action on something — the object. If you remove the object from these sentences, they don't make sense:

He will lay the book on the table.
(Lay is the verb; the book is the necessary object.)
She gave the pearl to the wizard.
(Gave is the verb; the pearl is the necessary object.)


Intransitive verbs don't need an object; they can take action all by themselves. No object is necessary in these sentences:

He ran.
She sits.


The Quick and Dirty Tip to remember what these names mean is to think of a transitive verb as transferring its action to the object. Both transitive and transfer start with the prefix trans.

Some verbs can be transitive or intransitive depending on how they are used.

They cheered. (intransitive)
They cheered the team. (transitive)


1-5 ACTION VERBS AND LINKING VERBS

The next way you can put verbs into groups is to sort them into action verbs and linking verbs. Action verbs are exactly what they sound like: they describe actions. Verbs such as run, jump, and swim are action verbs.

Linking verbs describe a state of being. The action isn't so rugged, but more thoughtful, connective, or complicated. Linking verbs aren't about actions as much as they are about connecting other words together.

The verb to be is the basic linking verb. The word is is a form of the verb to be. If I say, "Squiggly is yellow," the main purpose of is is to link the word Squiggly with the word yellow.

Other linking verbs include seem, appear, look, become, and verbs that describe senses, such as feel and smell. There are at least sixty linking verbs in the English language.

Of course, it can't be as simple as action versus linking verbs. You wouldn't need me if it were.

The complication is that some verbs — such as the sensing verbs — can be both linking verbs and action verbs. A Quick and Dirty Tip to help you figure out whether you're dealing with a linking or an action verb is to see if you can replace the verb with a form of to be. If so, then it's probably a linking verb.

He smells bad. (He has a bad odor.)
He is bad. (He is ill-behaved.)


In the above sentence, smells is a linking verb because if you replace smells with the word is, the sentence still makes sense. Bad describes the noun he, not the verb smells or is.

Now see what happens when smells is an action verb.

He smells badly. (His nose isn't working.)
He is badly. (This doesn't make sense.)


Replacing smells with is doesn't work, so you know you have an action verb. Badly describes the verb smells, not the noun he.


1-6 VERB TENSES: LIVE FOR TODAY

People say, "Live for today, forget about yesterday, and ignore tomorrow." But if everyone did live in the now, I wouldn't get to invite you to explore the exciting world of verb tenses.

Fortunately, people dwell on the past and plan for the future; history, for example, by definition, happened in the past. Verbs reflect time, which is why we need tenses.

Verbs come in three varieties — present, past, and future. Today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Kilroy is here.
Kilroy was here.
Kilroy will be here.


But that's not all. Each verb tense can then be spliced into more categories.

Simple — the end of the action is unknown or unimportant. Things are simple when time isn't important.

The captain swims. (simple present)


Perfect — the action has ended or will end; it is complete or will be completed. It starts. It ends. It's known. It's completed. Things are perfect when you know everything about them.

The captain has swum. (present perfect)


Progressive — the action is ongoing, progressing, or will be ongoing; it is continuous. We have no idea when it will end; it's incomplete.

The captain is swimming. (present progressive)


Perfect Progressive — the action progressed for a while before it ended or before it will end.

The captain has been swimming. (present perfect progressive)


For your reading pleasure, here's a handy chart with all the major verb tenses:

[TABLE OMITTED]


These three sentences are all in the simple present tense, but if you consider them, you may notice that they seem different:

I want chocolate. (state present)
Put the chocolate in the bowl. (instantaneous present)
She eats chocolate. (habitual present)


People who describe language, such as the British linguist Randolph Quirk, also noticed that these sentences are different and gave them categories — the names you see next to the sentences.

Simple present tense verbs can describe a state (wanting, thinking, feeling), an instantaneous action (an instruction, a brief action), or a habit — an ongoing or repeated action (sneezing, editing, reading).

Do you need to know the category names to write well? No. But it's fascinating, and being aware of the different categories can keep you from getting confused when you see a simple present tense verb doing something besides its simplest "Jack walks" job.


Irregular Verbs

Since we're talking about tenses, what's up with past tense verbs like drew, went, and flung? They're called irregular verbs. Why aren't the past tense forms drawed, goed, and flinged? Your two-year-old cousin probably thinks they are! That's because kids absorb the rules for forming regular verbs first because regular verbs are the most common verb form.

Regular verbs follow a pattern: you make them past tense by adding d or ed.

Present Tense Past Tense
hoe hoed
jump jumped


Irregular verbs don't follow that pattern; they are holdovers from the past. Believe it or not, rules for conjugation (a fancy word for "working the verb") were even more complicated in the olden days. Let's not even talk about it.

Over time, conjugation rules got simpler and most verbs were regularized. Today, English has fewer than two hundred irregular verbs, but they are some of the most common ones you use.

Present Tense Past Tense
am was
do did
draw drew
fling flung
go went
run ran
say said
see saw
sit sat


See Common Irregular Verbs in Appendix section A-4 for more examples.


1-7 SUBJUNCTIVE VERBS: IF I WERE A RICH GIRL

Most people don't realize it, but verbs can be as moody as cats. Verbs can becommanding (imperative mood), matter-of-fact (indicative mood), or doubtful or wishful (subjunctive mood).

Don't talk to me! (imperative)
Squiggly ate too much. (indicative)
I wish I were a rock star. (subjunctive)


The mood of the verb to be, when you use the phrase I were, is called the subjunctive mood.

Let's talk a bit more about the subjunctive mood, since it's the most confusing mood. Asubjunctive verb is used to communicate such feelings as wishfulness, hopefulness, and imagination — things that aren't real or true. For example, when the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz sings "If I were king of the forest," he is fantasizing about all the things he would do if he were brave. He's not courageous — he's just imagining — so if I were is the correct statement. I were often follows the word if, because if often means you are wishing or imagining.

In a subjunctive sentence, the verb is often also accompanied by a statement using wishful words like would or could.

If Aardvark were famous, his face would be on the one-dollar bill.


1-8 VERBALS

Verbals may seem to have been designed to confuse you. Verbals feel like verbs, but they act like something else in a sentence. There are three types of verbals: gerunds, participles, and infinitives. Gerunds act like nouns, participles act like adjectives, and infinitives can act like nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.


1-9 GERUNDS

If you add ing to the end of a verb and use that word as a noun, it's called a gerund. For example, take the verb act and add ing to get acting. You can use it as the name of a profession — a noun:

Acting isn't as easy as it looks.


Acting is a gerund in that sentence; it functions like a noun. Here are two more sentences with gerunds:

Aardvark'ssingingal most deafened Squiggly.

After you finish this book, you will want everyone to read your writing.


1-10 PARTICIPLES

If you add ing to the end of a verb and use that word as an adjective (see section 1-24), then it's called a participle. Let's use acting again.

Actinglessons helped Aardvark land the lead role in the school play.


Acting is a participle in that sentence; it functions like an adjective by describing the noun lessons.

Adding ing to regular verbs makes present participles, and adding d, ed, n, en, or t to regular verbs makes past participles.

The fallen leaves made a striking pattern.


1-11 INFINITIVES

An infinitive is a combination of the word to and a bare form of a verb: to go, to run, to split, and so on.

To act was his secret desire.
(infinitive as noun)
It is his time to shine.
(infinitive as adjective: to shine modifies time)
He sprinted the last 10 yards to secure the win.
(infinitive as adverb: to secure modifies sprinted)


Splitting Infinitives: Splitsville

I know it may come as a surprise, but I, Grammar Girl, am not that adventurous. My idea of fun? Splitting infinitives. Sometimes I split them when I don't have to just because I can. Yeah, that's my idea of fun!

To understand my thrill, you have to know that some people believe it's against the "rules" to split an infinitive. I consider it my calling to dispel that myth.

Blame Latin for the logic behind the 19th-century rule about not splitting infinitives. In Latin there are no two-word infinitives, so it's impossible to split one. Early on, many English teachers decided that because infinitives couldn't be split in Latin, they shouldn't be split in English either.

But notions change over time, and today almost everyone agrees that it is OK to split infinitives, especially when you would have to change the meaning of the sentence or go through writing gymnastics to avoid the split.

Here's an example of a sentence with a split infinitive:

Squiggly decided to quickly remove Aardvark's cats.

In this case, the word quickly splits the infinitive to remove: to quickly remove.

If you try to unsplit the verb, you might actually change the meaning. For example, you might say

Squiggly decided quickly to remove Aardvark's cats.

Now you've left the infinitive intact, but instead of saying that Squiggly quickly removed Aardvark's cats (zip zip) while Aardvark stepped out for a minute, you're saying Squiggly made a decision quickly.

You could rewrite the sentence without the split infinitive and not lose the original meaning.

Squiggly decided to remove Aardvark's cats quickly.

That could be an even better sentence, but from a grammatical standpoint, rewriting isn't necessary.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students by Mignon Fogarty, Ewin Haya. Copyright © 2011 Mignon Fogarty. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mignon Fogarty, the creator of Grammar Girl and the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, is also the author of the bestselling GRAMMAR GIRL'S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING and THE GRAMMAR DEVOTIONAL. She lives in Reno, Nevada.
grammar.quickanddirtytips.com


Mignon Fogarty, the creator of Grammar Girl and the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network, is also the author of The New York Times bestselling GRAMMAR GIRL'S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING and THE GRAMMAR DEVOTIONAL. Her straightforward, bite-sized tips on grammar have led to features in the New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and an appearance on Oprah. She lives in Reno, Nevada.

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Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Mark_NJ More than 1 year ago
Grammar Girl's Ultimate Writing Guide for Students is a handy book for students and professionals alike. In an easily understandable manner, Grammar Girl covers the English language in a light and fun - yet informative - way. I highly recommend this book for those professionals for whom English is a second language. The comprehensive index enables you to find the subjects for which you need help in a flash. This book would be a worthwhile gift to any student, any professional, and any person, for that matter, who wants to improve the quality of their writing without having to take a formal class.
Copynet More than 1 year ago
I haven't been a student for a long time, but I guess one could call himself or herself a student if you are open to learning and reading books to educate yourself. That's me. I like this book because it's simple and easy to read. Grammar is not my strength and I often have a hard time remembering the facts, so I'd rather look it up in an easy-to-understand book and then be able to share with someone or read out loud to myself and still understand the rule and feel confident about it. There are pop quizzes in the book and plenty of sidebars with exceptions, extra explanations, quick tips. I'm not yet finished reading the book, but it's on my desk and I reference it often when I'm not reading it front to back. I recently referenced the lie vs. lay entry to give a better explanation to a coworker. It was quite helpful. In a couple of box-like charts, Mignon has nicely laid out the present and past tense of each word with sample sentences. But there's more beyond that ... some tips for remembering the differences and a few other helpful paragraphs. This book, as well as many of Mignon's other books, is simple and straightforward. All of her books include relevant examples and explanations and catchy ways to remember some of the harder rules to follow. You feel like you could identify with her, because she's down to earth as she writes. She'll say things like, "Don't feel bad if you can't remember verb forms right away. Practice will help, and truthfully, I still have to look up most of them every time I use them." I often look up stuff up all the time ... even the same stuff. But sometimes the books just say it better than I do, and I'd rather read from a source that says it right and gives a great way to remember it. I recommend Mignon's books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a great book. Before this book, I have never read anything in my life. Read it from beginning to end. She makes grammar fun and interesting. Highly recommend to everyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good morning everyone grammar girl is must have book.
jeffam70 More than 1 year ago
Grammar Girl has a fun and easy-going nature about her writing. Her Ultimate Writing Guide for students is a nice read, is well-organized, and contains many examples I've been looking for. I've been a technical writer for years, but I still wonder about certain rules on occasion and it's nice to have a good resource for finding the answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the concepts are hard to understand at times if the vocabulary is unfamiliar but overall, it is fantastic! I love writing and can't wait to read the entire book. I think it will help me a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hffff
Anonymous More than 1 year ago