Monday, September 12, 2005
This One's For Grady
Topic idea! I don't know if it's easy, but I was wanting to know the importance of grammar/sentence structure technicalities. If a mugger jumps out and screams at gunpoint, "What is an adjective!" I would have to reply; "Being shot is less painful than trying to remember!" –Grady Houger
There once was a BG named Grady,
Who cried, “All this grammar stuff’s shady!
I don’t know a noun
From a hole in the ground.
I know! I’ll go ask blogger lady.”
Oh, boy, a grammar lesson. How wonderfully . . . boring. But necessary.
I shall do what I can to keep it entertaining. We'll go at a rather fast clip. So strap on your seatbelt, keep your hands inside the car, and don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .
A noun is a person, place, or thing. Could be a common noun or a proper noun. No, common nouns do not refer to the non-elites. Necessarily. And proper nouns do not refer to the impeccably mannered. Necessarily. But they could. Common nouns are nouns that are, um, common. As in having all their letters share the same commonality—not capped. UNLESS YOU ARE SHOUTING AT YOUR DOG!! In which case dog—a common noun—would be not only capped, but all capped, although it still wouldn't be proper. (I’ve never seen a proper dog. They tend to have some rather interesting habits that preclude such distinction.) Proper nouns, on the other hand—hand is a common noun, by the way—are capitalized. Like the names of people. Grady is a proper noun. (However improper you may choose to act at the moment.) Timbuktu is a proper noun. (I have no idea how proper Timbuktu is because I’ve never been there.)
A pronoun stands in place of a noun. He instead of Grady. Them instead of the baby deer frolicking on our lawn in Idaho. It instead of our rumored neighborhood bear, which we finally saw, sauntering down our driveway like it owned the place. (Actually, as long as it was around, it did.)
A verb does something. There are two kinds of verbs—action verbs and state of being verbs. Action verbs—you guessed it—commit an action. Work. Jump. Talk. Eat. Sleep. (Hey, they’re getting better as we go along.) State of being verbs don’t do nuthin’ but just be. Sort of like couch potatoes. Without the television. These are—hey, there’s one of 'em now. Are. The plural use of is. Which is (hey, there’s another one!) the singular use of to be. Hamlet liked this verb a lot.
A noun usually serves as the subject of a sentence, whether common or proper. Grady is a BG. Grady is the subject. Grady is also a proper noun. Two definitions for the price of one. Sometimes, however, a subject comes from a verb. This happens when you take a verb and add ing. This turns the word from a verb into a gerund. Why it’s called a gerund is beyond me. It should be called verbouning. Writing makes me crazy. Writing’s a gerund, and the subject of the sentence. I took the verb write, added ing, and, voila! a noun. A common noun. Although there is nothing common about writing. Especially fiction. Especially fiction when a deadline approacheth.
Nouns also often serve as the direct object in a sentence. The direct object is the object directly affected by what the subject does with the verb. (Have I lost you yet?) Grady asked me about grammar. Me is the direct object. Grady reads my blog. Blog is the direct object. I kicked a cabinet yesterday. Actually, I didn’t, but cabinet remains the direct object whenever I decide to kick one next.
An adjective modifies a noun. In other words, tells us something about that noun. Think of adjectives as gossipy sorts—always adding details. BTW, sorts is a noun. Gossipy is an adjective. Student Grady Houger. Student is the adjective. It helps define Grady (whether you are acting studious or not). Grady Houger remains the proper noun (or perhaps the improper, nonstudious student, but we won’t ask too many questions).
An adverb modifies an adjective or a verb. If an adjective is gossipy, an adverb is very gossipy. In fact, very is an adverb. Why? Because it’s giving us a detail about just how gossipy the adjective is. It makes more sense when an adverb modifies a verb. It adds to the verb—hence, its name. I suppose we could call it an adadjective, but that’s rather cumbersome. When an adverb modifies a verb, there’s often an ly at the end. Editors don’t like these words muchly. They veritably, happily, and grinningly X ’em out in manuscripts. At least mine does.
My husband recently bought a new 2005 metallic red Corvette.
Can you handle this, Grady?
Not the car, the conjugation.
Husband is the subject. It’s also a common noun. Although I can say without an ounce of prejudice that there’s nothing common about my husband. He is a man extraordinaire.
Bought is the verb. An action verb, since it’s something he did. As in shelled out money. In Phoenix. Because he couldn’t find the color he wanted in California. Then he had to fly down to Arizona to pick said car up and drive it home.
But I digress.
Corvette is a proper noun. And boy, is it proper. As in fine. Fine, indeed.
Corvette is also the direct object. Husband (subject and noun) bought (action verb) what? He bought Corvette—the object directly affected by the verb.
Red is an adjective. It describes the noun Corvette. Although there’s no such thing as a proper adjective, this is one, in my opinion. Because if you’re going to buy a Corvette, it’s only proper that it be red.
Metallic is an adverb. In this case, an adadjective. It describes the red. It ain’t just any red. Not cherry (another adverb) red. Not dull (an adverb you’d never find associated with a ’Vette) red. Metallic red. As in sparkly under the sun.
2005 is an adjective. You see why? Even though it’s separated from Corvette, it’s describing the car. The metallic is not 2005. (Although, who knows, maybe they didn’t have this particular metallic in 2004.) The red is not 2005. (Ditto on previous parenthetical statement.) The Corvette is 2005.
I drive the Corvette when hubby is traveling. I play my CDs very loudly. Classic rock. This embarrasses my fifteen-year-old. Apparently I’m not acting my age. Which I forget anyway, so what difference does it make?
Grady, wanna tackle one or two of three of those sentences? Come on now, man, let’s see a little conjugation sensation. As for the rest of you BGs, anything in the grammar lesson I missed? Do make sure your additions are entertaining.