2
   

Pesky adverbs hiding in prepositional clothing.

 
 
Lash
 
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 01:26 pm
OK, I'm taking an online test to keep/get my grammar skillz in commendable shape for a so-called instructor -

She jumped under the table.
After the flood, he bought longer pants.

under and after are italicized for identification.

I believed both were adverbs, based on the happy, innocent grade school explanation on which I've always operated: They tell where or when or why or how often, how much...

So the bastards at the Let's Confuse Decent People Grammar Institute are trying to tell me that after and under are prepositions. But, if they are, they're adverbial prepositions, signaling the phrases they initiate.

But, adverbial prep - nor adverbial clause or any such thing was offered as an answer on this test. Adverb WAS offered, but considered WRONG.

So, now I sit in a clump of self-doubt and anger.

Is the test wrong? Am I wrong?

Dankeschön
 
View best answer, chosen by Lash
contrex
 
  2  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 01:40 pm
@Lash,
Under and after are both prepositions. A preposition can be defined as a word or group of words that show the relationship between things in time and space. Under the table. After the flood. Beside the bed. On the bed. Before the storm. After the war.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 02:00 pm
@contrex,
Do you think that they introduce adverbial phrases/clauses?
0 Replies
 
George
  Selected Answer
 
  3  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 02:09 pm
I'd say that "under" and "after" in themselves are prepositions.
They are each part of an adverbial phrase.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 02:10 pm
@George,
Thanks, George. I can deal with that.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 02:33 pm
@Lash,
Quote:
OK, I'm taking an online test to keep/get my grammar skillz in commendable shape for a so-called instructor -


To what end, Lash? What is it that you hope to accomplish by being able to name parts of speech in sentences?
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2011 06:00 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
What is it that you hope to accomplish by being able to name parts of speech in sentences?


A good question.

Lash
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 10:43 pm
@contrex,
Writing ability has taken a nose dive, and some people (including me) think it's because students don't know a hell of a lot about their own language. State and national standards require that they have a working knowledge of parts of speech.

It's so funny to go back and look at this. I was still so rusty!!

What has shocked me most this year is that my seventh graders were never taught "be verbs." If the verb wasn't "action," they couldn't find it. I've spent so much time on concepts that were supposed to be learned in 3rd or 4th.

What is the strongest argument against teaching grammar or parts of speech?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 11:06 pm
@Lash,
Quote:
Writing ability has taken a nose dive, and some people (including me) think it's because students don't know a hell of a lot about their own language. State and national standards require that they have a working knowledge of parts of speech.


You jest, surely, Lash. Everyone, including students, knows a hell of a lot about their own language. What they don't know a hell of a lot about is the mechanics of their language, as is illustrated by your rusty attempt in the OP.

Quote:
What is the strongest argument against teaching grammar or parts of speech?


I've explained this to Pom a number of times. People learn to write by writing, NOT by learning parts of speech terminology and parsing sentences. Especially when such exercises are taught by teachers who are themselves incompetent at such tasks.

It's a falsehood, a mighty common falsehood that people have to know about grammar to be a good/decent/great writer. Pure pizzle!

You are a pretty fair writer, many here are and yet the combined level of knowledge about grammar here at A2K doesn't amount to a hill of beans/amounts to a hill of beans. [even the illustrious grammarian, OmSigDavid is seriously confused on that one.]

What has passed as grammar instruction at all levels of education is a monstrous joke. And as Gracie has shown us the joke continues to this day.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 02:21 am
@JTT,
Learning by writing hasn't worked. When a student mis-matches a pronoun to an antecedent, how can anyone explain the error when the student doesn't have a working vocabulary of the words and their functions? It's like sending a kid to calculus although she missed multiplication.

I agree with your comment about incompetent teachers. I have to refresh knowledge constantly - but I do. You can breathe easy that I study my compartmentalized little units before I teach them. I find the responsibility of teaching the greatest way to learn. Intentionally leaving students ignorant, though - the seeming preference of so many people - surprises me.

How can you explain why a dangling modifier is wrong if the student doesn't understand modifier or subject? Can they find the subject without knowing how to find the verb? or how to recognize dependent and independent clauses? If there is a noun and a verb in the dependent clause, how will they understand that that noun cannot be the subject? It's sort of cruel to expect them to be successful writers without giving them a foundational understanding of how writing works.

Don't think for a second I'd want to teach this maddening crap if I didn't think it was absolutely necessary.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 11:21 am
@Lash,
Quote:
Learning by writing hasn't worked.


You've proved yourself wrong in this thread, Lash. Not to be harsh on you but as I said you write just fine and yet you were unable to discern an adverb from a preposition.

Do you consider that Shakespeare knew how to write? What about Jane Austin?

Ernest Hemingway?

David Foster Wallace? Richard Lederer?

Quote:
When a student mis-matches a pronoun to an antecedent, how can anyone explain the error when the student doesn't have a working vocabulary of the words and their functions? It's like sending a kid to calculus although she missed multiplication.


It's not like anything in your last sentence. That's the great myth, that kids don't know parts of speech. Again, and this is crucial, they don't know the names that have been given to the parts of speech, often times mistakenly.

I don't want to keep harping on this but you illustrated that you too can make a mistake. We all can, even linguists and grammarians can. Descriptions and changes to the names of parts of speech change over time as scientists study how they are actually used in language. That hasn't stopped millions from learning how to write.

These kids have spent the vast majority of their life using all the parts of speech just as they are supposed to be used - in the correct order and with the correct placement. If they didn't know the parts of speech, all that would come out is word salad and their speech would be incomprehensible. We know it isn't.

Dollars to donuts, the pronoun mismatch you think you see doesn't exist, though it might. Would you care to provide an example?

Quote:
You can breathe easy that I study my compartmentalized little units before I teach them.


That's what I'm afraid of, Lash. Has it not occurred to you that these little units contain large errors? Why do you suppose it is that the education system has produced so many who are woefully ignorant of grammar/language and how they actually work? Did you never partake, read
the Pet Peeves of English thread?

Did you not read one of Gracie's initial threads asking about who/whom? She was given the same old crap by her teacher, who I'm sure was dutifully following her little units.

You are of the Strunk & White generation, or, given your tender age, a direct descendant. When it comes to grammar and knowledge of the workings of the English language, you have been taught flat Earth theories.

Quote:
How can you explain why a dangling modifier is wrong if the student doesn't understand modifier or subject?


Actually, I couldn't. No one can "explain why a dangling modifier is wrong" because they aren't.

Again, you make an unwarranted assumption about the knowledge these kids have. Here you just repeat the same old things that teachers have been repeating for centuries - much of it to protect themselves as it is to advance kids' learning.

Kids don't understand 'subject' and 'modifier' because they haven't been taught that artificial vocabulary. That is specialized jargon, as distant to most as is the jargon of the medical, legal or academic professions.

But think about it, no, I mean really think about it. If kids didn't INNATELY know subject and modifier, their speech would be incomprehensible. They would not have successfully matched billions of grammatically compatible words over their 6, 8, 12, ... years of speech.

Just a note on DM/misplaced modifiers/... . They are not wrong. We all use them daily, frequently. They fill newspapers and other edited speech and writing. They are one of the little bugbears that allow teachers to waste students' time when there are many many many more interesting and important aspects of language to discuss and study.

Is there any concern wrt these grammar "errors"? Yes, of course. In writing, we take extra care but that doesn't mean we should be anal about a perfectly natural feature of our language. Read some of the prescriptive crap discussing this particular issue and you'll see just how stupid it is.

Quote:
Can they find the subject without knowing how to find the verb? or how to recognize dependent and independent clauses?


Yes, they can, IF they are given good, thoughtful instruction by teachers who actually know something of how English works. Teachers who actually know what things are important to language. Teachers who are willing to go beyond their "little units".

This takes a teacher who is willing to really consider whether what they are
passing on is the equivalent of grammar phrenology or an actual knowledge of the English language.

Quote:
If there is a noun and a verb in the dependent clause, how will they understand that that noun cannot be the subject? It's sort of cruel to expect them to be successful writers without giving them a foundational understanding of how writing works.


What is cruel, Lash, is to fill their heads with false notions or arcane ideas. I could probably describe much of what fills the little units that you are required to teach and I know that much of it is simply crap, old wives tales, canards about language that have been passed down over the centuries. Things that have little to nothing to do with language.

Or it's so simplistic that it couldn't possibly be of any real value.

Probably the worst thing teachers pass on is the silly, the truly silly notion that what they teach stands as the mark of good/correct English. It's not explained to students that what they are learning are artificial rules for writing/SFE/SFW that bear a surface resemblance to all the millions upon millions of real rules that they have already learned that guide them in their
daily speech.

These rules for daily speech have to be modified in order to make them conform to the artificial nature of SWE/SFE. Kids' heads are filled with the completely mistaken notion that the rules of SWE/SFE constitute the rules of good/correct English. Which is of course, absolute, unmitigated drivel. [Is my last sentence a dependent clause, Lash?]

Which brings us to my final point for now.

You have to consider that whatever aspects of grammar you impart to your students, no matter how diligent you are, you can't expect that they are being given the full picture of a topic that is incredibly complex. Yet many adults, who we must note, become fair/good/excellent writers never receive instruction beyond this minimal level.

Maybe this will help. Learning that when" there is a noun and a verb in the dependent clause, ... that noun cannot be the subject" makes no more difference to one's level of writing skill than does the knowledge of fast twitch/slow twitch muscles make to one's ability to walk or run.

Not having had the advantage of your little unit to remind me, I admit that I had to think about that rule for a moment or two and if I ever knew it, I can assure you that it figures prominently not at all in my decisions about what I write. Nor does it make one bit of difference to any writer, anywhere. That's not how our natural, innate internal grammars work.

Which brings us back to Shakespeare. You may find this shocking but Will knew nothing of grammar. He certainly had no knowledge of much of the "grammar" to be found in those little units.


contrex
 
  4  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 12:00 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
What about Jane Austin?


Didn't she make cars in England? Along with Ford Madox Ford and William Morris?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 12:10 pm
@contrex,
My first thought, completely unwarranted I see, was I'm glad to see Contrex engaging in thoughtful commentary on language issues.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 02:50 pm
@JTT,
My goal is to help as many of my students as possible get they asses in to college. Wink I'm aware of the controversy ...the anti-grammarians. Grammar is irritating to me, as well.

I don't 'red ink' writing. We talk about voice, creativity, showing rather than telling... I like writing to be a freeing experience for kids. But when your writing is incoherent due to mistakes - and you want to improve - grammar information is helpful.

If the point that I make mistakes furthers your point, by all means - harp on it. The OP was done before I started teaching, and was reconstituting my knowledge years after I was in school. I also hadn't considered grammar conventions important, so I allowed myself to forget them. I'm not afraid of anyone's opinion about that.

If my students decide to thumb their noses at accepted convention, let them do so from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance. I don't think learning accepted writing conventions in your country's language is a waste of my time or my students'.

btw, they are adverbs and prepositions... Wink if they have an object, routinely referred to as preps. (shrug)

pronoun/antecedent examples

My mom and her sister ran to the car, but she slipped and fell. ( COMMON example from my students...you can't identify what happened.)
Herb and his children went to the zoo, and he had a great time.

I think the woefully ignorant aspect comes in due in large part because the US ceased teaching grammar about 20 years ago...

Since Will was CREATING grammar conventions, and we can't all be Shakespeare...I guess I'll let you have that non-point. >.<

But, seriously. What would you teach in middle school language arts?






McTag
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 03:46 pm

I agree with Lash, and I like her hair.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2011 07:13 pm
@Lash,
Quote:
I'm aware of the controversy ...the anti-grammarians. Grammar is irritating to me, as well.


With that comment, I'm not at all sure you are aware, Lash. I've never heard of any anti-grammarians. I'm certainly not advocating any such a stance. There are some folks who are anti-false grammar.

Quote:
But when your writing is incoherent due to mistakes - and you want to improve - grammar information is helpful.


I agree, it is. But again, not the false grammar rules that are often taught in middle school and beyond.

Quote:
If the point that I make mistakes furthers your point, by all means - harp on it. The OP was done before I started teaching, and was reconstituting my knowledge years after I was in school. I also hadn't considered grammar conventions important, so I allowed myself to forget them.


I wasn't harping on the fact that you make mistakes/made a mistake. I was using that point to directly refute your contention that learning grammar/names of parts of speech/etc helps anyone to become a good writer.

And my point still stands, is reinforced, in point of fact, simply because McTag agrees with you. Smile

But seriously, Lash, one doesn't forget the rules that describe real grammar. Of course, we all forget, most fail to even learn, those silly grammar conventions that you have in mind.

As Steven Pinker says, those grammar conventions are so alien to the natural workings of language that they have to be memorized. All those millions of other real grammar rules that you learned, completely untaught, as a child, will stay with you until you die. They were never memorized, you absorbed most by the age of five and those are what have guided you to become a proficient writer.

Quote:
btw, they are adverbs and prepositions... if they have an object, routinely referred to as preps. (shrug)


Given your limited response, there's not much I can say here about that save this one point. Modern grammar disagrees with traditional grammar in some ways on these descriptions. Whichever one one chooses to follow makes no difference to language.

It's important to remember that these folks aren't describing the methods language must follow. Rather they are trying to describe the incredibly complex system that is grammar, hence language, and how it is used. What I'm driving at is that learning one or another person's ideas on language terminology doesn't affect how we produce language.

===========
She put it in.

Is 'in' a preposition or an adverb?

================
Lash wrote:
1. My mom and her sister ran to the car, but she slipped and fell. ( COMMON example from my students...you can't identify what happened.)
2. Herb and his children went to the zoo, and he had a great time.


These are perfectly natural, not to mention common examples of the only language that kids have been exposed to since birth. That would be language that had context.

For 1, everyone within the group knows that it's mom that's in the hospital. There is an antecedent, there is a referent. Of course, kids have to learn that the situations that writing describes are often different, the referents are not always so clear.

For 2, even if I (EDIT) wasn't ['original- was] party to the context, I'd assume it was Herb. But again, kids have to be cautioned that writing doesn't provide that normal richer context that m akes things clear.

[My edit, above, reveals a fairly serious mistake in writing. They happen.]

But saddling kids with a bunch of grammar vocabulary and rules, especially the large number of idiotic prescriptions that are taught in these situations, isn't what is needed.

Letting kids know that writing is different than speech and providing them with good descriptions of those differences and why, goes a lot further to making them good writers.

Quote:
I think the woefully ignorant aspect comes in due in large part because the US ceased teaching grammar about 20 years ago...


That statement illustrates a woeful ignorance, [in the non-pejorative sense] Lash. First of all, Gracie has described that they haven't stopped teaching grammar. They are doing it to this day. I know from personal experience that the same, and it can only be described as 'stupid', grammar is being taught today that was being taught 40 and 100 and 200 years ago in the US.

I know that same stupid grammar is being taught at colleges around the US. There are college grammar websites where the same stupid grammar is repeated over and over. There are threads on A2K where people have come and repeated the same silly grammar nonsense. There are college professors who have websites where the same stupid grammar is repeated over and over.

Quote:
Since Will was CREATING grammar conventions, and we can't all be Shakespeare...I guess I'll let you have that non-point. >.<


Will wasn't creating grammar conventions. Where did that come from? Will was simply using the grammar of the day. My point was Will didn't know these stupid conventions because they hadn't been invented yet. Yes, they were invented, concocted, not with any regard to how language was actually used but with how a group of people thought language SHOULD be used.

That's why these stupid conventions are never learned, why you "forget" them - because they are alien to the natural workings of the language system.

Quote:
For here are the remarkable facts. Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English have been among the flagrant flouters.

The rules conform neither to logic nor tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.

http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/1994_01_24_thenewrepublic.html


Modern corpus studies show us that these "rules" have never been of our language. It's not only the best writers of English who flout them. It's also the very people who daily rant about people who break these "rules".

Quote:
But, seriously. What would you teach in middle school language arts?


I don't envy you, Lash, or your position because I know that you are under a great deal of pressure to teach these old canards. I expect, given my limited exposure to your values/morals that you are as diligent and as conscientious as a teacher could possibly be.

I'd teach grammar if that's what was asked of me, but I would describe language as it is actually used by those who use the language.

I'd look for the real reasons why kids can't write. And that's a pretty simple one. They just don't know what the expectations are. They can't be born knowin', can they?

But they come with all the tools. In fact, if they weren't already so knowledgeable in the grammar of language, you wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of helping them learn to write, not in a couple of lifetimes.

Do you know of David Foster Wallace?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Dec, 2011 06:11 am
@JTT,
There is a story related in The Language Instinct that describes this notion that teaching kids grammar helps them learn their language. There's a tribe in Africa that believes that children have to be taught/trained to sit up.

So mothers and other family members dutifully surround the babies with pillows, propping them up one way or another.

And guess what. These kids learn to sit up.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Dec, 2011 12:40 pm
Consider for a moment those real grammar rules that we all use with every expression of language. As I have mentioned, they are never forgotten. Think about this for it for it is key to what is actually a rule of language.

These rules, the real rules, don't even reach to one's conscious state. We deploy rule after rule with such speed and such mental dexterity to express what we want with no thought whatsoever given to rule choice. Even little kids, who can be so easily duped, deploy these unbelievably complex set of rules with such ease.

Ask a person to explain their choice of a grammatical structure and they are lost. How is it that they know exactly what to choose to effect a certain nuance but they have no idea of why or how?

Compare this incredible process to any of the silly, inane "rules" all too often found in the school systems, those rules that no one actually ever learns.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jan, 2012 07:46 am
@JTT,
Quote:
Certainly instruction in grammar by modern methods does not lead to any deeper understanding of how to resolve the problems that arise incessantly when we struggle to put thoughts into words.


http://www.pbs.org/speak/speech/correct/decline/


Read on, Lash [others too, of course] at the above URL for a good discussion of how important/unimportant these rules are to kids.
0 Replies
 
 

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