Grammar Rules III
Semicolons, hyphens, and quotation marks galore!
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In Grammar Rules I, you stalwart Shmoopers conquered the 7th-grade Common Core Language Standards, getting groovy with parts of speech, clauses, subject-verb agreement, and all that other stuff that makes for great dinner party conversation. In Grammar Rules II, things got more complicated as you met verbals, voice, mood, and other 8th-grade Common Core Language Standards.
In our finale, designed to meet the 9th- through 12th-grade Common Core Language Standards, you'll clinch your mastery of grammar and use it to write some pretty prose.
With Shmoop's lesson plans, readings, and activities, you'll tackle
- variety in sentence structure.
- types of phrases (e.g. adjectival, adverbial, participial, absolute).
- advanced clause writing.
- descriptive vs. prescriptive ideas about language.
- conquering common mistakes (e.g. who/whom).
- advanced punctuating: colons, semicolons, hyphens, quotations, commas.
Unit 1. Grammar Rules III
This short course covers advanced grammar concepts so you'll be ready to prose it up with the best of 'em. With lessons on semicolons, hyphens, quotation marks, sentence variety, and more, you'll be the master of all things Grade 9-12 Common Core.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 2: A Phrase By Any Other Name
Today, a science lesson: We think chemistry, like grammar, is super fun. Mostly, we love the ways in which two substances with their own unique properties and attitudes can combine to form an entirely new substance that isn't anything like the bits that went into it.
For example, chlorine is a poisonous gas. In its solid form, we use it to kill germs in swimming pools (because have you seen children in a pool?). That means that it is literally used to keep water incapable of sustaining life, and trust us on this—sustaining life is one of water's favorite hobbies. Sodium, meanwhile, is a substance so crazy dangerous that, if it comes into contact with the air, it catches fire. Hello, lab accident waiting to happen. Chemists actually have to deal with it in special coatings of oil just in order to even study it. Put another way, sodium is pretty nasty stuff.
But—and there's always a but—if you combine the poison gas of chlorine with the flaming metal of sodium, you get something completely different—table salt! Yes, that most delectable of condiments is composed of stuff that you'd have to call poison control about if they were on their lonesomes.
But Shmoop, what does this possibly have to do with grammar? You are wise to ask. You see, we're about to study what happens when we combine single words to make a different thing altogether with its own properties and flashy ways of doing things. Such is the wonder of phrases. You put a verb together with an adjective and suddenly Flash! Bang! you've got a whole new animal. Or substance, if we're keeping our metaphors straight here. But probably without cool chemistry explosions.
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.2: Can You Rephrase That?
To start down the road on this wonderful adventure we like to call Journey to Phrasedom, we should point out that a phrase is any word grouping that does not contain both a noun and predicate. If it contains a noun and a predicate, it is a clause. Because this is grammar, we've got a lot of phrases to pick from to make our writing splendiferous, so we'll start at the top. Trust us when we say your writing will get a lot more interesting the more of these bad boys you can throw in. They add class, sophistication, and just the right amount of rebelliousness.
As you would rightly suspect, a noun phrase is one that features a noun. Nouns appear in all of our sentences, and they often have other words around them to assist or describe them. When that happens, we call the noun group a noun phrase:
This is just a noun: podiatrist
This is a noun phrase: the charming, intelligent podiatrist
Noun phrases also show up in some uncommon places, like with things that look like verbs but aren't—verbals:
This is just a noun: songs
This is a noun phrase: Italian songs
This is a gerund noun phrase: I enjoy singing Italian songs.
This is an infinitive noun phrase: I would love to sing an Italian song.
Verb phrases basically operate the same way noun phrases do, in that the phrase encompasses all the words that are playing off of the verb:
This is just a verb: lit
This is a verb phrase: lit the birthday candles happily
This is the one type of phrase most of us should be familiar with. Prepositional phrases have a strict structure.
Prepositional phrases must start with a preposition, like of, in, upon, or to, and must have an object of the preposition. There is usually an article in between, and we can also see a stray adjective sneak in there sometimes.
This is a prepositional phrase: on the sandy beach ← preposition + article + object of preposition.
As is this: of the scruffy dog ← preposition + article + object of preposition.
Prepositional phrases modify either a noun or a verb. In that sense, then, prepositional phrases also equal adjectival or adverbial phrases depending on what they modify.
Following in the grand phrase tradition, an adjective phrase is a grouping of words that, together, act as an adjective:
This is just an adjective: sandy
This is an adjective phrase: sandy and beautiful beach
This next part gets a bit tricky, so grab a drink of water and hear this: adjectival phrases can also be prepositional phrases, if that prepositional phrase is modifying a noun:
The beaver saw the dam in his path. ← adjectival phrase because "in his path" modifies/describes "dam"
The beaver built the dam with sticks and mud. ← not an adjectival phrase because "with sticks and mud" modifies "built"
Just as with adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases are groups of words that, together, act as one adverb:
This is just an adverb: quickly
This is an adverbial phrase: extremely quickly
Also like adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases can be prepositional phrases IF the phrase modifies a verb, like this one did:
This is an adverbial phrase: The beaver built the dam with sticks and mud. "With sticks and mud" modifies "dam."
Let's get this out of the way now: in the same way that participles look like verb but aren't, participial phrases still look like verbs, but aren't. They are still adjectives, albeit really big ones. These are participles that have extra descriptive bits with them, often prepositional phrases or direct objects.
This is a participle: Terrified, the goldfish swam away.
This is a participial phrase: Terrified of Scuba Steve and his treasure chest, the goldfish swam away. "Terrified" is our participle that is modified by the prepositional phrase "of Scuba Steve and his treasure chest."
The absolute phrase is almost a clause because it combines a noun followed by a participle, but if you'll remember, participles aren't actually verbs. That means we're still in phrase-ville.
As usual, absolute phrases can absorb other modifiers, too. These types of phrases are awesome because they modify an entire sentence. All of it. That's some heavy sentence lifting, if you ask us.
This is an absolute phrase: Tears springing to his eyes, the goldfish unsuccessfully attempts to hide from the other fish.
The entire phrase "tears springing to his eyes" describes the entire sentence or event of "the goldfish unsuccessfully attempts to hide from the other fish." It describes what's happening during the goldfish's attempts to hide.
Absolute phrases are not the same as participial phrases because, unlike participial phrases that start with a participle and take a noun as an object (sometimes, at least), absolute phrases start off with a noun and are followed by a participle:
Absolute phrase: Tears springing to his eyes, ← noun + participle
Participial phrase: Terrified of Scuba Steve and his treasure chest, ← participle first
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.2a: Phrase-ology 101
Since you're so sharp, Shmooper, these few items should be a piece of cake...mmm...cake... Anyway, go ahead and tell us which kind of phrase (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, prepositional, participial, or absolute) each one is. If you do well enough, we might bake you a cake.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.2b: The Great Phrase Up
It's your time to shine! Now that you've got the mug shots for these bad boys firmly in mind, use that big brain of yours to write a complete sentence containing a unique example for each type of phrase listed.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Quiz 1.2c: Exit Ticket
- Course Length: 3 weeks
- Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12
- Course Type: Short Course
- High School
Grammar Rules I
Grammar Rules II
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?