Write It Right: Continually and Continuously

“Continually and Continuously. It seems that these words should have the same meaning, but in their use by good writers there is a difference. What is done continually is not done all the time. But continuous action is without interruption. A loquacious fellow, who nevertheless finds time to eat and sleep, is continually talking; but a great river flows continuously.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

A Learning Support on Parallelism in a Series

From Paul Brians’ book Common Errors in English Usage (which, if you click on that hyperlink, you will find conveniently posted in its entirety on the Washington State University website), here is a learning support on parallelism in a series. This is a short paragraph on constructing parallelisms; most of the page is a blank field for your use. This is, like the bulk of the material you’ll find on this website, a Microsoft Word document. You may adapt it to the needs of your students. This document could easily be developed into a worksheet for practice in construction parallelism. In fact, it may well show up later on this blog as such a document.

Incidentally, when I began teaching in 2003 at a school in the South Bronx, a number of my colleagues were struggling to pass one of the gatekeeping exams for educator certification in New York State. When I began talking with several of them about this challenge, it turned out that one thing–and one thing only, interestingly–prevented them from passing the test: using parallelisms and parallel construction in English prose. All of these teachers were non-native speakers of English, and I understand now, as I didn’t then, that parallelism and parallel construction in English are tricky compositional maneuvers. I tagged this post and containing professional development material in the event teachers themselves need this document.

Anyway, I hope this document helps students and teachers everywhere in developing their own understanding of  parallelism in English prose.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Determiner

“Determiner: A part of speech or word class that determines or limits a noun phrase, showing whether a phrase is definite (the, this, my), indefinite (a, some, much), or limiting it in some other way, such as through negation (no in no hope). Determiners include the articles and words traditionally classified as kinds of adjective or pronoun. They precede adjectives: many clever people, not clever many people; my poor friend, not poor my friend. Most words that function as determiners can be used alone as pronouns (this in Look at this picture and Look at this) or have related pronouns (every/everyone/everything, my/mine, no/none). Some grammarians regard as determiners such phrases as plenty of… in We have plenty of money.

Determiners can be subdivided into three groups according to their position in the noun phrase: (1) Central determiners. These may be articles (a, the in a storm, the weather, demonstratives (this, those in this day, those clouds), possessives (my, your in my hat, your umbrella), some quantifiers (each, every, no, any, some in each moment, every day, no excuse, any help, some clouds). Such determiners are mutually exclusive and contrast with adjectives, with which however they can co-occur: the best weather, any possible help, no reliable news. (2) Post-determiners. These are used after central determiners and including numbers (two, first in those two problems, my first job) and some quantifiers (many, several in your many kindnesses, his several attempts). (3) Pre-determiners. These are used before central determiners, mainly referring to quantity. They include: all, both, half (all this time, both your houses, half a loaf), double, twice and other multiplier expressions (double the money, twice the man he was, once each day, six times a year), fractions (a quarter of the price), and such and what in exclamations (Such a waste of money, What a good time we had!)

They can also be divided according to the countability of the nouns the co-occur with: (1) With singular countable nouns only: a/an, each, every, either, neither. (2) With singular countable and uncountable nouns: this, that. (3) With uncountable nouns only: much and little/a little, and usually less, least. (4) With uncountable and with plural countable nouns: all, enough, more, most, a lot, lots of, and the primary meaning of some, any. (5) With countable plurals only: a few, few, fewer, fewest, both, many, several, these, those, and numbers. (6) with most common nouns: the, no, the possessives my, your, etc., and some wh- words (whose roll/rolls/bread, by which date, whatever food you eat).”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005

“The Road Not Taken”

Here is a reading on Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” accompanied by its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. This is a rare two-page reading in the series of materials I have prepared using texts from The Intellectual Devotional series; it includes a full typescript of the text of the poem as well as a surprisingly thorough exegesis of the poem itself.

I only wrote this recently, but I did so because in the years that I worked in New York City, especially in the South Bronx, a number of paraeducators with whom I worked were students at Hostos Community College on 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, one of the Bronx’s great intersections. “The Road Not Taken” was at the time and may still be a staple of one or more of the American literature courses at the school. As this reading points out, this is a difficult poem to interpret; Frost himself said so (his remark is one of the “additional questions” on the reading and worksheet), calling the poem “tricky.” Even The Paris Review weighed in on the subject of “The Road Not Taken,” calling it “The Most Misread Poem in America.”

So, for students everywhere wrestling with these verses, this post may be useful to you.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Impression

“Impression: Any print made from a block, plate, or stone. Also, the physical contact of paper and printing surface which in turn affects the quality of the image. Thus terms like ‘good impression’ and ‘weak impression’ describe that effect of the contact.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Codify (vt)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb codify, which is only used transitively, so don’t forget your direct object–you must codify something.

Merriam-Webster defines this verb quite simply: “to reduce to a code.” I wrote this worksheet because this word kept showing up in social studies texts in the years in which I was teaching global studies. What students will need to understand (and this is an opportunity to awaken prior knowledge and put it to use, particularly if your global studies curriculum includes, as it should, material on the Code of Hammurabi) is that the word code defines “a systematic statement of a body of laws especially: one given statutory force” and “a system of principles or rules.” Put another way, the verb codify connotes “to make into law.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on Reading the Classics

“Have I uttered the fundamental blasphemy, that once said sets the spirit free? The literature of the past is a bore—when one has said that frankly to oneself, then one can proceed to qualify and make exceptions.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Cultural Literacy: Marbury v. Madison

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Marbury v. Madison, the United State Supreme Court’s legal decision that established the principle of judicial review–i.e. that the Court is the final arbiter of the constitutionality of any legislation drafted and passed in this republic.

This is a half-page worksheet with three questions that serves only as on introduction to this decision and its implications. I’m not an expert in United States history, but this is clearly a big conceptual moment in the history of this nation, so I must assume Marbury v. Madison merits–indeed requires– a much deeper dive than this document affords. For example, the Court, before Marbury v. Madison, had in 1796 exercised judicial review in the Hylton v. United States case–the adducing of which would help students understand a key concept in Supreme Court jurisprudence: stare decisis, also known as precedent.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Ellipsis

“Ellipsis: A figure of speech in which a word or number of words, which have little to the logical construction of the sentence, are left out and supplied by the reader.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cartel (n)

Here’s one more post before I take a vacation from this blog for a few days, to wit, a context clues worksheet on the noun cartel. It’s a word that shows up in social studies classes, particularly those United States history classes that deal with 1970s global oil markets and their effect on the American economy.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.