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4.3: Grammar Focus- Rituals

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    203808
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    Learning Objectives

    This chapter focuses on the following grammar components found in the article, Why Rituals Are Good For You.

    • Developing Sentence Variety, part 2
    • Noticing & Using Reduced Clauses
    • Passive Voice with Modal Verbs, part 2

    Answer keys for each of the grammar activities are found in the answer key chapter.


    Developing Sentence Variety

    As you know, in English, a typical order of words in a sentence is subject – verb – object. To make your paragraphs flow, it is important to use a variety of sentences. It’s good to use a variety of simple, compound, and complex sentences – and begin some sentences with prepositional or verbal phrases.

    A variety of sentences help create unity and flow of a paragraph:

    1. Simple sentences and independent clauses contain the important information in the paragraph.
    2. Dependent clauses and phrases provide context and additional details about the important information – they explain when, why, or how the action happened.
    3. Transitional expressions are often inserted into simple sentences to add logical connections between ideas.

    Let’s look at some examples.

    Example 1

    Read the following paragraph.

    This is the age of isolation. We need nourishing and uplifting means of creating community. We can bring together members of different generations. This is what our ancestors did. I know from my experience in Iran that rituals can be particularly valuable during hard times. We don’t have to worry about bombs and food rations in the U.S. We still have challenges to our security. These challenges affect our mental and physical health. Rituals can help us. They offer our communities opportunities for healing and support.

    Notice that it consists of mostly simple sentences. All the sentences are equal in importance, and there are few words that show logical connections them. Each sentence begins with a subject.

    Example 2

    Now read this paragraph as it appears in the article “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health.”

    In this age of isolation, we need nourishing and uplifting means of creating community by bringing together members of different generations as our ancestors did. From my experience in Iran, rituals can be particularly valuable during hard times. In the U.S., we don’t have to worry about bombs and food rations, but we still have challenges to our security that affect our mental and physical health. Rituals can help us, though, by offering our communities opportunities for healing and support.

    Let’s analyze the differences between the two paragraphs.

    Simple sentences Combined sentences Explanation
    This is the age of isolation. We need nourishing and uplifting means of creating community. We can bring together members of different generations. In this age of isolation, we need nourishing and uplifting means of creating community by bringing together members of different generations as our ancestors did. The first phrase introduces the time of the action in the sentence.

    The second phrase that begins with “by” shows how the action can be done.

    The adverb clause provides additional information.

    I know from my experience in Iran that rituals can be particularly valuable during hard times. From my experience in Iran, rituals can be particularly valuable during hard times. The phrase helps create a more concise sentence and emphasize the point in the sentence.
    We don’t have to worry about bombs and food rations in the U.S. We still have challenges to our security. These challenges affect our mental and physical health. In the U.S., we don’t have to worry about bombs and food rations, but we still have challenges to our security that affect our mental and physical health. The phrase creates a connection with the previous sentence (… in Iran).

    The coordinator “but” shows that both of the independent clauses contain ideas of equal importance.

    The adjective clause describes the challenges, providing additional information.

    Rituals can help us. They offer our communities opportunities for healing and support. Rituals can help us, though, by offering our communities opportunities for healing and support. The transitional word shows contrast.

    The prepositional phrase shows how rituals can help. The main point – rituals can help – remains in the main sentence.

    Review other paragraphs in “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health.” Analyze how the writer uses sentence variety in this article.


    Grammar Behind Sentence Variety


    Punctuation with Different Sentence Connectors

    (For deeper explanation of the terms in this exercise, please refer to the Sentence Structure Glossary and the lessons in the supplemental grammar unit.)

    Remember the differences between the following types of connectors, which are reflected in punctuation.

    1) Transitional expressions and phrases at the beginning of the sentence are separated from the sentence with commas.

    • It is cold outside. Therefore, we will not play soccer today.
    • Because of the cold weather, we won’t play soccer today.

    2) When a sentence begins with a BOBUB, a comma goes at the end of the clause.

    • Because it is cold outside, we will not play soccer today.

    3) When a BOBUB begins in the middle of the sentence, there is no comma before the BOBUB.

    • We will not play soccer today because it is cold outside.

    4) When FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) connect two clauses, there is a comma between them.

    • It’s cold outside, so we will not play soccer today.

    5) When FANBOYS connect two words, there is no comma between them.

    • It’s cold outside, so we will not play soccer or go for a walk today.

    All of these connectors express certain relationships between ideas, and some may be confusing because they express the same meaning.

    Transitions and Their Meanings

    Some transitions are unique and express meanings that are not expressed by other connectors.

    Meaning Transition
    Comparison Similarly, likewise
    Adding an idea Also, in addition, further, furthermore, moreover
    Alternative Instead, alternatively, otherwise
    Emphasis Of course, in fact, certainly, obviously, to be sure, undoubtedly, indeed
    Examples For example, for instance
    Summarizing In short, generally, overall, all in all, in conclusion
    Order First, second, third, then, next, later on, subsequently, meanwhile, previously, finally

    Remember to use commas after these transitions in sentences.

    Other Connectors

    Condition is mainly expressed by BOBUBS (subordinating conjunctions): if, even if, unless, only if, whether (or not), in case.

    • If it rains tonight, I won’t have to water tomatoes in the morning.
    • I will have to water tomatoes in the morning unless it rains tonight.

    The relationships of time, order, contrast, cause, and effect can be expressed by several types of connectors.

    Time
    Connector Type Connectors Example Sentences
    BOBUBS (subordinators) when, until, till, before, after, while, since, as soon as, by the time, once, as long as, so long as, whenever, every time, the first time, the last time, the next time Whenever it snows, I think of home.

    The first time I got an A on an essay, I was very proud of myself.

    I learned how to read by the time I was six.

    I will stay at this job until I graduate from college.

    Prepositions in / on / at / before / after / during / by / until + noun phrase During a snowstorm, I think of home.

    On that day, I was very proud of myself.

    I learned how to read by the age of six.

    I will stay at this job until college.

     

    Contrast
    Connector Type Connectors Example Sentences
    Transitions however, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the other hand, in contrast, still, on the contrary, conversely It is cold. However, we will play soccer.
    BOBUBS (subordinators) although, even though, though, while Even though it is cold, we will play soccer anyway.

    We will play soccer even though it is cold.

    Prepositions despite, in spite of In spite of the cold, we’ll play soccer anyway.
    FANBOYS but, yet It is cold, but we will play soccer.

     

    Cause and Effect
    Connector Type Connectors Example Sentences
    Transitions therefore, consequently, as a result, thus, hence, for this reason It is cold outside. Therefore, we will not play soccer.
    BOBUBS (subordinators) because, as, since, now that, so (that) Because it is cold outside, we will not play soccer today.

    We will not play soccer since it is cold outside.

    FANBOYS so It’s cold outside, so we will not play soccer today.

    Choosing Connectors

    As you can see, some relationships between ideas can be expressed through different types of connectors. How do you choose which one to use?

    • Review your paragraph; it is good to use a variety of sentences.
    • Connect ideas logically—the end of one sentence needs to be connected to the beginning of the next sentence.
    • Use independent clauses and simple sentences to express the main points and information.
    • Include information that provides context in dependent clauses and phrases.

    Exercise 1. Read the passage. Add capital letters, periods, and commas.

    in iran during the war we found uses for rituals when we were faced with food rations we gathered family and friends reciting the ancient story of the poor abused girl who had run away from home and had a vision of being visited by three celestial bibis (matrons) the bibis instructed her to make a sweet halva and donate it to the poor the girl said she didn’t have any money and the bibis told her to borrow or work for the ingredients this worked well with food rations as each guest brought a few ingredients to make the halva like the girl in the story each participant made a wish and took a bite of the halva i walked away feeling calmer and more supported

    then we began to build rituals within the larger community first we hosted a multigenerational sunday potluck with friends and family each week five to 10 of us gathered shared food and recounted what made us grateful during each meal i noticed i was lighter more engaged with others and laughed more

    later we built more community rituals into the week i posted on nextdoor asking our neighbors to join us on monday evening walks to the neighborhood park and back

    From “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health”


    Check Your Answers

    Compare your changes with the passage below:

    In Iran during the war, we found uses for rituals when we were faced with food rations. We gathered family and friends, reciting the ancient story of the poor abused girl who had run away from home and had a vision of being visited by three celestial bibis (matrons). The bibis instructed her to make a sweet halva and donate it to the poor. The girl said she didn’t have any money, and the bibis told her to borrow or work for the ingredients. This worked well with food rations as each guest brought a few ingredients to make the halva. Like the girl in the story, each participant made a wish and took a bite of the halva. I walked away feeling calmer and more supported.

    Then we began to build rituals within the larger community. First, we hosted a multigenerational Sunday potluck with friends and family. Each week, five to 10 of us gathered, shared food, and recounted what made us grateful. During each meal, I noticed I was lighter, more engaged with others, and laughed more.

    Later, we built more community rituals into the week. I posted on Nextdoor, asking our neighbors to join us on Monday evening walks to the neighborhood park and back.

    From “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health”


    Noticing & Using Reduced Clauses


    Exercise 1: Noticing Reduced Dependent Clauses: Adjective (relative), Adverb (subordinate), and Noun

    (For deeper explanation of the terms in this exercise, please refer to the Sentence Structure Glossary and the lessons in the supplemental grammar unit.)

    Dependent clauses are often added to independent clauses to create layers of meaning within a sentence. Using dependent clauses also offers an opportunity to create complex sentences, which add variety to the rhythm and flow of a paragraph.

    Sometimes a writer chooses to use a full clause structure that includes a marker word and subject-verb units.

    Examples of full clauses from “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health”

    Adjective Clause: I grew up amid the Iran-Iraq War, which killed a million people. (paragraph 1)

    Adverb Clause: Several of these rituals take place during the spring because the equinox marks the Persian New Year. (paragraph 2)

    Noun Clause: Rituals, on the other hand, are “goal demoted,” which means that their actions have no instrumental connection to the outcome. (paragraph 3)

    Often, though, a writer uses reduced clause structures to add this information, especially when BE verbs (am, is, are, was, were) are being used instead of action verbs. It is not always necessary to reduce clauses. If you are not sure if a reduction works in your own writing, it is always best to use the full clause.

    Examples of reduced clauses from “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health”

    Reduced Adjective Clause (“appositive”): Cristine Legare, (who is) a researcher and psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says, “Rituals signify transition points in the individual life span and provide psychologically meaningful ways to participate in the beliefs and practices of the community.” (paragraph 4)

    Reduced Adverb Clause: In a University of Toronto study, participants who performed a ritual before (they completed) completing a task exhibited less anxiety and sensitivity to personal failure than when they completed the task without first performing the ritual. (paragraph 5)

    Reduced Noun Clause: During each meal, I noticed (that) I was lighter, more engaged with others, and laughed more. (paragraph 15)

    Why Rituals are Good for Your Health Activity:

    Noticing Reduced Dependent Clauses: Adjective (relative), Adverb (subordinate), and Noun

    Read through the article again. See if you can find:

    • Ten more full adjective clauses (there are 12 total)
    • Ten more full adverb clauses (there are 12 total)
    • Can you find the two sentences that contain two adverb clauses?
    • Five more noun clauses
    • Three more reduced adjective clauses (there are 5 total)
    • One more reduced adverb clause
    • Two more reduced noun clauses

    Other things to notice:

    • Where are the independent clauses? How do the other pieces attached to them support their meaning?
    • Where are the commas with which adjective clauses? Are they defining or non-defining?
    • Where are the commas with the adverb clauses? What’s the rule?

    Noticing Modal Verbs

    Instructions: Read the following passages and highlight all modal verbs that you can find. What is the meaning of the modal verb?

    Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health

    Paragraph 1: I don’t know if I could have survived seven years of my childhood without the soul-saving rituals of my Persian culture.

    Paragraph 9: Whether we’re chanting in Sanskrit or singing the national anthem, “our brains tend to resonate with those around us, so if everyone is doing the same dance, hymn, or prayer, all of those brains are working in the same way,” Newberg explains. “This can engender a powerful feeling of connectedness. It also reduces stress and depression through a combination of effects on the autonomic nervous system, which is ultimately connected to the emotional areas of the brain—the limbic system.”

    Paragraph 16. In this age of isolation, we need nourishing and uplifting means of creating community by bringing together members of different generations as our ancestors did. From my experience in Iran, rituals can be particularly valuable during hard times. In the U.S., we don’t have to worry about bombs and food rations, but we still have challenges to our security that affect our mental and physical health. Rituals can help us, though, by offering our communities opportunities for healing and support.


    Noticing Passive Voice

    Instructions: Read the following passages from the article “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health” and highlight all verbs in the passive voice that you can find. Some passages have more than one verb in the passive voice.

    Paragraph 1. Besides the horrors of the war, freedom of thought and expression were severely restricted in Iran after the Islamic revolution. Women bore the brunt of this as, in a matter of months, we were forced to ditch our previous lifestyle and observe a strict Islamic attire, which covered our bodies and hair.

    Paragraph 3. According to research psychologist Nick Hobson, a habit’s inherent goal is different from a ritual’s. With habit, the actions and behaviors are causally tied to the desired outcome; for example, brushing our teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease and exercising to keep healthy. Rituals, on the other hand, are “goal demoted,” which means that their actions have no instrumental connection to the outcome. For example, we sing “Happy Birthday” to the same melody even though it isn’t tied to a specific external result.

    Paragraph 7. We live amid a loneliness epidemic where the lack of belonging and community has been linked to high suicide rates and an increased sense of despair. The United States has one of the worst work-life balance scores in the world, while more Americans have become disillusioned with organized religion, as a broad and rapidly rising demographic consider themselves spiritual but not religious.

    Paragraph 8. In Iran during the war, we found uses for rituals when we were faced with food rations. We gathered family and friends, reciting the ancient story of the poor abused girl who had run away from home and had a vision of being visited by three celestial bibis (matrons).

    Paragraph 9. Stories, such as those told during the Jewish ceremony of Passover Seder, have become ritualized because they are recited in the same way each time.

    Paragraph 11. I moved to the U.S. when I was 14. After living here for two decades, I became a mother and was confronted with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But where was that mythical village and the rituals that made it sane? For example, a pregnant woman in Iran had a rotating menu of dishes made for her by friends and family. A new mother was surrounded by people who took turns assisting with daily tasks. But in the U.S., she was expected to fend for herself and her baby immediately after childbirth.

    Paragraph 14. Candlelit dinners were no longer saved for a special occasion. Using a talking stick helped me listen more attentively and choose my words more carefully. Huddling together at the end of each family meeting provided me with a sense of accomplishment. Each ritual, no matter how small, anchored me in something bigger and provided a sense of belonging.


    Error Correction – Passive Voice

    Instructions: The following sentences contain errors in the use of passive voice. Find and correct these errors.

    Adapted from “Why Rituals Are Good for Your Health”

    1. Freedom of thought and expression were severely restrict in Iran after the Islamic revolution. (1 error)
    2. In a matter of months, women were force to ditch our previous lifestyle and observe a strict Islamic attire, which covered our bodies and hair. (1 error)
    3. With habits, the actions and behaviors are causally tie to the desired outcome. The actions of rituals, however, have no instrumental connection to the outcome. For example, we sing “Happy Birthday” to the same melody even though it isn’t tie to a specific external result. (2 errors)
    4. We live amid a loneliness epidemic where the lack of belonging and community has linked to high suicide rates and an increase sense of despair. (1 error)
    5. The United States has one of the worst work-life balance scores in the world, while more Americans have become disillusion with organize religion, as a broad and rapidly rising demographic consider themselves spiritual but not religious. (2 errors)
    6. In Iran during the war, we found uses for rituals when we faced with food rations. We gathered family and friends, reciting the ancient story of the poor abuse girl who had run away from home and had a vision of being visit by three celestial bibis (matrons). (3 errors)
    7. Stories, such as those told during the Jewish ceremony of Passover Seder, have become ritualize because they recited in the same way each time. (2 errors)
    8. Candlelit dinners no longer saved for a special occasion. Using a talking stick helped me listen more attentively and choose my words more carefully. (1 error)
    9. After living in the U.S. for two decades, I became a mother and was confront with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But where was that mythical village and the rituals that made it sane? For example, a pregnant woman in Iran had a rotating menu of dishes made for her by friends and family. A new mother surrounded by people who took turns assisting with daily tasks. But in the U.S., she was expect to fend for herself and her baby immediately after childbirth. (3 errors)

    4.3: Grammar Focus- Rituals is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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