Improve Your Writing: Ideas

Good writers often divide their work into six components, usually called traits, a concept developed by teachers at Education Northwest. When writing, editing, or revising a piece, we assess its ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. This week, we will look at the idea trait and its importance to good writing. TheContinue reading “Improve Your Writing: Ideas”

Comma Controversies

If a sentence begins with the word “so,” should a comma follow it? Believe it or not, we grammar nerds have controversies, and this is one of them. Some experts say we should never begin a sentence with the word “so” in the first place, so the comma issue is moot. Other grammarians think thatContinue reading “Comma Controversies”

Is the Oxford Comma Really Necessary?

In these divided times, controversies abound. Politics, religion, lifestyle, and other issues are but trivial compared to the true quandary of our day: Is the Oxford comma necessary? For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Oxford comma is the last comma before the conjunction in a list. For example, in the sentence “The newContinue reading “Is the Oxford Comma Really Necessary?”

Why Do We Have Grammar Rules?

If we don’t have an academy to regulate the English language, why are there even grammar rules? The best answer I have found is that language’s only purpose is to communicate clearly and effectively with others. One way to be clear is to use mutually-agreed upon conventions. Yoda may be able to get away withContinue reading “Why Do We Have Grammar Rules?”

Should the English Language Be Regulated?

Should English be regulated? The average American student would probably answer “Yes.” English is notoriously difficult to speak and write correctly, in large part because nearly every rule has exceptions. For example, “tough” and “ruff” rhyme, but we spell them very differently. Why don’t we just standardize it all? Many languages, from French and SpanishContinue reading “Should the English Language Be Regulated?”

When Katie Found Out About Santa, Part 2

The first day of kindergarten “He was chasing me at recess and wouldn’t stop. So I stopped him,” my adorable kindergartener said.As casually as I could, I asked, “Did a teacher see you?”“No,” said Katie. “I was quick.”Oh. A few weeks later, my son Robbie got sick on a Sunday. Since I needed to takeContinue reading “When Katie Found Out About Santa, Part 2”

When Katie Found Out About Santa, Part 1

My daughter Katie has always been precocious. Even as a very small child, she was curious, serious, and gifted with a large vocabulary. She asked questions constantly, and she usually followed the answers up with more questions. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise, I suppose, when she asked me THE question: “Mommy, where doContinue reading “When Katie Found Out About Santa, Part 1”

The Cat’s out of the Tree: Idea Trait

Part 1 Let’s take a look at how the story “How To Get a Cat out of a Tree” uses the writing component of ideas. On Monday, we said that the idea, or main message, “should be made clear to the reader at the outset, and it should be developed and supported throughout the work.”Continue reading “The Cat’s out of the Tree: Idea Trait”

How To Get a Cat out of a Tree, Part 2

Since our first adventure with a cat in a tree, Feé has gotten stranded in trees a few more times. However, the experiences were short-lived until the following summer. One day, Feé begged me to go outside to play, so I let her out. Of course, I gave her a lecture about trees before sheContinue reading “How To Get a Cat out of a Tree, Part 2”

How To Get a Cat out of a Tree, Part 1

We have cats. Some people have dogs, or horses, or guinea pigs–my brother and his wife have llamas–but we have cats. At one time we had 22, but we’re down to nine now, ten if you include the tom who visits from time to time. Cats tend to bring adventure with them, and one ofContinue reading “How To Get a Cat out of a Tree, Part 1”