Tag Archives: readings/research

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.

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.

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.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here is a reading on F. Scott Fitzgerald along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

This is a biography of Fitzgerald. While it does include a paragraph on The Great Gatsby, this short reading supplies the author’s personal details. There are other materials on Fitzgerald and Gatsby (and more forthcoming) on this site–simply use the search bar in the upper-right of the home page.

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.

Book of Answers: Ernest Hemingway

“In what Hemingway short story does Nick Adams first appear? Hemingway’s alter ego, the central figure of In Our Time (1924), makes his first appearance in ‘Indian Camp.’”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

The Algonquin Wits: Heywood Broun

“On his first meeting with Ruth Hale, whom he later married, Broun took the young lady for a stroll in Central Park, where she became intrigued with a squirrel which had come begging for food. After listening to Miss Hale’s repeated regrets that she had no peanuts to give the squirrel, Broun remarked, ‘I can’t help you except to give him a nickel so he can go and buy his own.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Edgar Allan Poe

Here is a reading on Edgar Allan Poe along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I believe he is taught at the secondary level. This is a good introduction to Poe’s biography and his bibliography.

Have you read Poe, beyond hearing James Earl Jones read “The Raven” on The Simpsons first “Treehouse of Horror” episode? I confess my own reading of Poe doesn’t extend very far beyond that. He is a very influential figure in the history of American letters. His first editions are some of the most sought after in the antiquarian book trade; his very first book, Tamerlane, which doesn’t even bear his name (the author is given as “A Bostonian) is a high spot in book collecting–it is known as the “black tulip” of American literature. The last copy that came up at auction sold for $662,000. His influence abroad may be even more pronounced, especially in France.

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.

Glasgow School

“Glasgow School: A group of painters who gathered in Glasgow, ca 1850-1918, who rejected academic conventionality and painted in a spirited style of naturalism. The best known of them include David Young Cameron and E.A. Walton.”

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

Common Errors in English Usage: Utilize (vt), Use (vi/vt)

Here is a worksheet on using the verbs utilize and use. Utilize is used only transitively, so don’t forget your direct object. Use is also transitive, but has a two intransitive uses. The first is a very common locution in the English language: we call upon the verb use in the past tense, i.e. used, which we join with the preposition to so that we can “indicate a former fact or state,” as in “We used to go out more often” and “He didn’t use to smoke.” The second intransitive purpose for use is “to take illicit drugs regularly.” (Maybe you won’t want to point that out, however.)

Put another way, the first sense of the intransitive exercise of use can best be demonstrated by the title of the blues standard first recorded by Eddie Jones, aka Guitar Slim, “The Things That I Used to Do.” Did you know that the young Ray Charles produced and arranged the recording session that produced this great song? Neither did I until I sat down and wrote this post. For the record, (so to speak), the song was recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio on Rampart Street in New Orleans. It was issued by the legendary Los Angeles R&B record label Specialty on October 16, 1953.

What we’re really talking about when the subjects of Cosimo Matassa, Ray Charles, Guitar Slim and Specialty Records arise are the beginnings of rock and roll. But that is another story.

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.