Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Daily Assignments, 2017

Assignment #5. Email me 12 sentences, one that uses each of the following verb tenses in the main clause. Identify the verb tense you are using
Due date:  10 pm on Thursday, August 24th.
1. present progressive (ex. "I am photobombing.")
2. past progressive (ex. "I was photobombing.")
3. future progressive (ex. "I will be photobombing.")
4. present perfect (ex. "I have photobombed.")
5. past perfect (ex. "I had photobombed.")
6. future perfect (ex. "I will have photobombed.")
7. perfect conditional (ex. "I would have photobombed.")
8. present perfect progressive (ex. "I have been photobombing.")
9. past perfect progressive (ex. "I had been photobombing.")
10. future perfect progressive ("I will have been photobombing.")
11. present progressive conditional ("I would be photobombing.")
12. past progressive conditional ("I would have been photobombing.")

You can either:

a) look through a recently published online news publication to find a complete sentence that deploys each of the verb tenses listed above. Some of these--3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11--are easy to search for. Just run a search on the first two words on a particular website--make sure you put quotation marks around them). Just run a search for the first three words for #s 10 and 12. Please identify your source (url).


b) create original sentences that demonstrate each of the verb forms. If you choose option "b," each sentence must include at least one of the following words, which have been added to well-known dictionaries in 2017 (make sure you know what they mean before you use them); Don't use the same word more than once:
1. thing (referring to ‘a genuine or established phenomenon or practice," as in: "Did you know that “leaf peeping” was a thing?") Click here and here for the sources for these words.
2. a Boston marriage
3. a birdcage veil
4. Baltic (meaning extremely cold)
5. woke (meaning "aware" or "well informed")
6. a baby face or a face (meaning a wrestler who is cast as the hero or ‘good guy’ in a match.
7. post-truth (as in "circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief")
8. sext
9. hangry
10. binge-watch
11. side-eye
12. face-palm
13. ghost (as in "To abruptly cut off all contact with someone--such as a former romantic partner--by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.)
14. pareidolia
15. prosopagnosia
16. safe space
17. wayback (referring to part of a van, station wagon or SUV)
18. weak sauce
19. woo-woo

c) some combination of both "a" and "b"

Assignment #4. Sign up for a day when you will email me something new that you have learned from Garner's Modern English Usage. Learn something new. Email it to me.  I'll post it on the ECU Linguistics and Grammar page on Facebook. Like the page to follow along.
Due dates for each student are listed below:
Aug 23: Karina Tarpey
Aug 24: Sierra Newey
Aug 27: Dana Welch
Aug 29: Ashley Tucker
Aug 30: Sharayah Alkire
Aug 31: Taylor Pruitt
Sep 1: Kelci Smith (Pollock)
Sep 2: Melissa Copeland
Sep 3: Lauren Trimmer
Sep 5: Cole Kugler
Sep 6: Amber Deela
Sep 7: Chelsee Marie Gray
Sep 8: Maci Hanson
Sep 9: Austin Ward
Sep 10: Jill Taylor
Sep 11: Socorra Rider
Sep 12: Sidney Lewis
Sep 13: Shyanna Sloan
Sep 14: Madison Harvey
Sep 15: Taylor Thomas
Sep 17: Jared Larson
Due September 18th at 10 pm.

Assignment #3. Read Garner's essay "Making Peace in the Language Wars" (xxxiii-xlv). Send me an e-mail ( in which you:
a) describe a salient point made in the article, and
b) respond with reflections, questions, feelings, thoughts, etc.

Use Standard Written English.
Include your name in the subject line of the e-mail.

Due: August 22nd at 10 p.m.

Assignment #2. Explore the entries in Garner's Modern English Usage. Learn something. Post it the comments section of the relevant post on this blog.
Due August 20th at 10 p.m.

Assignment #1. Read "Tense Present" by David Foster Wallace. Click here for the pdf.

Send me an e-mail ( in which you:
a) describe a salient point made in the article, and
b) respond with reflections, questions, feelings, thoughts, etc.

Use Standard Edited English.
Include your name in the subject line of the e-mail.

Due:  August 17th at 10 pm

Friday, August 18, 2017

What did you learn from Garner's Modern English Usage?

For fun, click here to hear what Garner has to say about "Tense Present," the essay that "changed his life."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Approaches to Grammar, Fall 2017

Office: Faust 155
Phone: 580-559-5877
Office Hours: 2-2:50 MTWR and by appointment

Over the course of this semester, we will discuss lexical categories, verb forms, sentence types, descriptive and prescriptive accounts of language use, and the differences between grammar rules and usage norms. Along the way, you will make progress toward developing a linguistic super power that will allow you to exchange an unspoken mental handshake with others who have developed the same skills you have.

Required Materials
Garner’s Modern English Usage, Fourth Edition. (Oxford UP, 2016)

Course Plan: Reading and writing assignments (and modifications to these assignments) will be announced over the course of the semester.  Students who miss class are responsible for learning what changes have been made in the syllabus.  Make sure you have the e-mail address and/or phone number of at least two of your classmates, so you can get the information you need about assignments in a timely manner. You may also check the course website: for new assignments.

The class will not hold its regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 26th.

60% Daily assignments (reading responses, quizzes, etc.)
20% Grammar book review plus in-class presentation (4-5 pages on an approved text plus a 10-15 minute in-class presentation to be given during the second half of the semester; each student must meet with the instructor to rehearse presentation at least one week prior to assigned presentation day; paper is due one week after in-class presentation).
10% Midterm Exam
10% Final Exam

Attendance: To get an “A” or a “B” in this class, you must have an attendance score of 80% or better; to get a “C” in this class, you must have an attendance score of 70% or better; to pass this class, you must have an attendance score of 60% or better.

Absences: I always appreciate it when students let me know in advance if they will not be able to attend class or turn in an assignment on time. Do not ask me for permission to miss a class or turn an assignment in late. It’s not that I don’t think some absences or delays are unavoidable; I just don’t want to have to make isolated, on-the-spot judgments throughout the semester about which absences (other than the excused absences mentioned below) and extensions are justifiable. I would rather make that judgment at the end of the term with the big picture in view. So at the end of the course, if your absences or the number of assignments you turned in late will negatively your grade, and you feel that some of those delays were unavoidable, send me an e-mail explaining your case and I will consider granting you whatever retroactive extensions and excused absences I judge to be fair at the time.

Excused Absences include required field trips, participation in activities formally sponsored by the university, documented illness or injury, and illness or death of a family member. Situations leading to multiple absences must be documented with the Office of Academic Affairs.

ECU Catalog Description:
Examines grammar and syntax. Includes emphasis on the theories of and strategies for grammar instruction in the English classroom.

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement:
According to University policy, plagiarism is “presenting the words, visual images or ideas of another as one’s own. Except for what is called ‘common knowledge,’ any information taken from another source must be documented in the student’s work. When a student interprets another’s ideas, credit must be given by an in-text reference. When a student uses an exact copy of another’s work, it must be delineated by use of quotation marks or indentation and referenced with the source” (East Central University Policy on Academic Integrity). Plagiarism can result in a failing grade for the course or expulsion from the university.

ADA Statement:
East Central University is committed to providing equal access to university programs and services for all students. Under university policy and federal and state laws, students with documented disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure the student has an equal opportunity to perform in class. If any member of the class has such a disability and needs special academic accommodations, please report to Student Support Services, Room 155 Administration Building, as soon as possible. Reasonable accommodations may be arranged after Student Support Services has verified your situation. Do not hesitate to contact me if any assistance is needed in this process.

Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Statement:

In keeping with the university’s emphasis on writing proficiency, all student produced writing will be expected to reflect clear content, coherent and organized structure, and adherence to the stylistic and mechanical standards articulated by the professor.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Passive Voice at Work

"Silhouette" by Kara Walker
Don't miss this discussion of the passive voice in today's New York Times:  "How Texas Teaches History."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Terrible Moments in Missing Comma History

It should have been "Let's eat, Grandpa."

Add your puzzlers below. Together we can prevent comma disasters.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Great Moments in Passive Voice Revisions

Thanks for this submission, Dillon Darnell.
This one was submitted by Kayla Payne. Thanks!

Friday, March 15, 2013


Ben Yagoda has recently published two essays for The Week that are worth checking out: "7 bogus grammar 'errors' you don't need to worry about" and "7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to."

"Seven Ballerinas" (1919)  by Pablo Picasso