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13.1: Grammar and Mechanics

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    Definitions, just because.


    • Grammar refers to the structure of a language: the parts of speech and their functions, their relationship to each other, word order in sentences, the parts of a sentence and how they are put together (sentence patterns).


    • The mechanics of writing refers to the technical elements – or the itty-bitty building blocks of sentences – such as: punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc.

    With those words defined, if you want to dig into these two elements more, feel free to do so in this chapter. However, this chapter isn’t meant to be preachy, nor does it claim that one must know all these things to be a good writer. This is just review. Don’t memorize. Don’t feel bad if you forget what a conjunction is the minute you walk away from this textbook. These are just goofy facts that make certain people feel superior.

    Parts of Speech.

    Parts of Speech Poem\(^{204}\)

    Every name is called a noun,

    As field and fountain, street and town,

    In place of the noun the pronoun stands

    As he and she can clap their hands.

    The adjective describes a thing,

    As magic wand or bridal ring.

    The verb means action, something done,

    As read and write and jump and run.

    How things are done the adverbs tell,

    As quickly, slowly, badly, well.

    The preposition shows relation,

    As in the street or at the station.

    Conjunctions join, in many ways,

    Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase.

    The interjection cries out, “Hark!

    I need an exclamation mark!”

    Basic Sentence Patterns.


    S = Subject = Topic of the sentence

    V = Verb = What is going on in the sentence – what the subject is doing/action

    C = Completer = Most sentences need to be completed, but there are some without completers like the sentence: “I do.”

    The Seven Basic Sentence Patterns:\(^{205}\)

    1. The Simple Sentence. Subject + Verb + Completer.
      1. Kenneth is a screwball.
    2. The Compound Sentence. Subject + Verb + Completer + Comma + Conjunction + Subject + Verb + Completer.
      1. He wouldn’t stop telling racist jokes, and Sally didn’t like that.
    3. The Introductory Sentence. Intro Phrase + Comma + Subject + Verb + Completer.
      1. Yesterday evening, Sally and Kenneth screwed in some lightbulbs.
    4. The Interrupting Sentence. Subject + Comma + Interrupting Phrase + Comma + Verb + Completer.
      1. Kenneth, the dude from Indiana, had some screwy-looking pizza.
    5. The Embedded Sentence. Subject + Who/That + Phrase + Verb + Completer.
      1. The pizza that was weird got tossed in the garbage.
    6. The Trailing Sentence. Subject + Verb + Completer + Colon + List or Trailing Word.
      1. The stinky garbage contained the following: the screwy pizza, two paper plates, and seven old lightbulbs.
    7. The Complex Sentence. Subject + Verb + Completer + Semi-Colon + Complex Conjunction + Comma + Subject + Verb + Completer.
      1. Kenneth took the garbage outside; however, Sally had to holler at him to do so.

    And the “Weird” Sentence Patterns:

    1. Fragment: An incomplete sentence.
      1. MAYBE: Without his love.
      2. YES: I was torn without his love.
    2. Run-on: Two or more SVC units fused together without punctuation.
      1. EH: He didn’t want to stay and well I guess that was okay, but I wanted him there and he couldn’t be so whatever.
      2. YES: He didn’t want to stay, but I wanted him there. He couldn’t be, though.
    3. Comma Splice: A comma is spliced between two sentences, and it just needs to change into a period or semi-colon or an added conjunction and comma.
      1. NO: The doctor mentioned the heart condition, I couldn’t believe it.
      2. YES: The doctor mentioned the heart condition; I couldn’t believe it.

    Here are the four purposes a sentence could have:

    • Declarative: I need my Batman cup in order to screw together this IKEA set.
    • Imperative: Go get my Batman cup.
    • Interrogative: Where did you put the screws?
    • Exclamatory: Holy crud, Batman!

    Subordinate Clauses and Conjunctions.

    There are different kinds of subordinate clauses and conjunctions and using any of these words/phrases supposedly increases the complexity of your sentences and thoughts.


    After Though  
    Although If Unless
    As In order that Until
    As if Since When
    Because So that Where
    Before Than Whether
    Even That While


    That Who Whose
    Which Whom  

    Conjunctive adverbs / complex conjunctions

    also consequently for example furthermore
    however in addition in contrast in fact
    instead likewise moreover nevertheless
    otherwise still then therefore

    FYI: Here is the entire list of the typical conjunctions:

    and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.

    \(^{204}\)Unknown author. If you know who created this, please let Sybil know.

    \(^{205}\)Once again, the textbook must caution you that these patterns aren’t perfect. We see them AND the weird sentence patterns in “professional” writing all the time.

    This page titled 13.1: Grammar and Mechanics is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.