Grammar teacher needs help

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by trina, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. trina

    trina Companion

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    Apr 24, 2007

    Hi all,

    I was reviewing an exercise with class today and 2 sentences stumped me. Honestly, I don't think I am explaining adverb phrases very well because some of the time I don't quite understand why the book says that a certain phrase is an adverb phrase. OK- I understand that adverbs (and adv phrases) answer the questions where, when, how, how much, and to what extent, but so many times I can't make the phrases answer one of those questions. Many times it's as if the phrases answers "why." So please help me out, because I was bewildered in class today, and I have to get a handle on this.

    In the following sentences:

    1. His future wife moved to Paris to study about physics and chemistry.

    The book has "to Paris" marked as an adverb phrase and I get that- it answers where. Then it has "about physics and chemistry" marked as an adverb phrase. I don't understand why. I am assuming it modifies "to study" but I am also stumped as to what this infinitive is acting as in the sentence. Help!

    2. Unfortunately, Pierre was killed in an accident on a Paris Street.

    The book has "in an accident" marked as an adverb- OK- it answers how and modifies "was killed." It has "on a Paris street" marked as an adjective phrase, and it plainly answers the question where. Is my book wrong?

    And if anyone can give me pointers on teaching adverb phrases, I will gladly listen!

    Thanks in advance!
    Trina in Alabama- 1st year language teacher still wet behind the ears!
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 24, 2007

    Bottom line: It's an adjective phrase if it modifies a noun or pronoun; if it modifies anything else (verb, verb phrase, adjective, clause), it's an adverb phrase. And, yes, adverb phrases may express reasons why. (Latin grammarians distinguished twenty or so different types of adverb, most emphatically including adverbs of purpose and result. Latin is so not English, but that fact didn't stop people from applying Latin categories to English. Sigh.)

    In (1), about physics and chemistry modifes to study, which is a verb: therefore, about physics and chemistry must be an adverb phrase. In (2), it's true that on a Paris street expresses location - but it modifies accident, which is a noun. Therefore...

    You've probably already figured out that grammars designed for English language learners can be very helpful. Here's a link that you might find useful: http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/410/grammar/advphr.htm.

    Some more useful sites:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles/
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/internet-grammar
    http://www.lbt-languages.de/english/lernhilfe/lernhilfe.html
     
  4. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    Apr 26, 2007

    hmm.. I always thought that and an adverb modifies a verb.. and that you could add the word "very" to the front.. for example:

    very slowly run (slowly is the adverb and run is the verb)

    go very often

    and that an adjective is a synonym for very or any word that can end with st or with "most"

    Example:

    the most fun
    the blackest cat

    It seems to me that "to Paris" and "in an accident" are better fits as prepositions.
     
  5. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2007

    Yes, Alaskanteach, but all prepositional phrases are either adjective or adverb phrases.;)
     
  6. engteach

    engteach Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2007

    The infinitive "to study" is an adverb because it modifies the verb and answers why. (If it answers why, it's most likely an adverb.) I think your book is wrong about "on a Paris street." I would go with adverb phrases.
     
  7. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2007

    The book COULD be wrong about on a Paris street, but it seems to me that the phrase is telling us WHICH accident. In that case, it's an adjective phrase.
     
  8. engteach

    engteach Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2007

    Yes, I agree. I always like to tell my kids that grammar is really a "grey" area subject.
     
  9. trina

    trina Companion

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    Apr 26, 2007

    Thanks to everyone who helped me. I feel more confident now. I do not like this book in that it left out "why" or "for what purpose" as a question adverbs answer. I will write it in and teach it that way anyway!
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 26, 2007

    "Prepositional phrase" describes form. "Adverb" is a function.
     
  11. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Apr 26, 2007

    Grammar is not a grey area.
     
  12. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    Apr 26, 2007


    Ahh, but like all things, it depends on the source, and the era in which it was written.

    I teach my students about determiners... some grammar textbooks claim they don't exist. Others, say a different story.

    for instance, Word Power Made Easy makes the (ludicrous in my opinion) claim that "whom" is dying out. Other textbooks would never even get close to that statement.

    Standard Written English is determined by consensus.

    I have seen many grammar books claim that "ain't" is ungrammatical. It isn't true. Sojourner Truth, said "Ain't I a woman." It also was an arbitrary rule set by Bishop Lowth (which, ironically, included all contractions at one point). Eventually, all other contractions were "accepted" (by consensus once again) except for "ain't". It is socially unacceptable, surely, but grammatically incorrect- no.

    But that just proves my point.. depends on the source, and the era.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 26, 2007

    Acquainting students with the fact that variation exists and is acceptable is one thing. Telling them that grammar is a grey area, however, is a rather different proposition. That approach seems to me to give them yet another excuse to buy out of it - to encourage the mindset that this stuff is arcane and unlearnable and pointless. Not Good.

    It doesn't help matters any that theoretical linguistics and education don't tend to talk to each other, with the result that the teaching grammars as a class tend to show some major ignorance of how language really works.
     
  14. trina

    trina Companion

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    Apr 27, 2007

    Teachergroupie and Mamacita, I agree with you. I have told my students that correct grammar is like correct math. Just like 4 plus 4 will always be 8. I tell them they need to be able to recognize when grammar is used incorrectly the same way they would recognize when they are given back incorrect change from a purchase.

    Now when to USE correct grammar...that's another frame of mind. I have said again and again that they need to be able to choose their language and match it up with the situation. In my urban school, "ebonics" abounds. I told them my goal is not to have them never speak that way again. My goal is to educate them on proper grammar so that when the situation arises, they can speak intelligently and coherently. The challenge in teaching them is to have them learn the correct form in the first place. They know how to say "Guh whatcha be doin jus stanin tha in da do?" I have to make sure they can also say "Lindsay, why are you standing in the door?"

    At the end of this first year of teaching, I beam with pride when they say something totally wrong, and then stop, look at me, and say it correctly. Or even laugh out loud when they correct each other.

    I have a large section of one wall that lists the words they constantly mispronounce with the true meaning of that word, along with the word they are meaning to say. The first few are:

    "mo" = more (Moe is a man's name)
    "flo" = floor (Flo is a waitress at Mel's Diner)
    "kilt" = killed (a kilt is a plaid skirt worn by Scottish men)

    Holding down the grammar fort in Alabama,
    Trina
     
  15. Ms.H

    Ms.H Companion

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    Apr 30, 2007

    I just came across the same sentence with which this post started today! It sure(ly) seems like it's answering the question "where," but I get the "which one" perspective, too. Now to explain that to the class...
     
  16. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Apr 30, 2007

    In more complicated grammatical elements, just as in the more complicated mathematical elements, there are occasionally options that one may take, depending on the 'route' one chooses.

    Also, there are some grammatical elements that may take on more than one function at once, again depending on whether one opens door number one, two, or three at the beginning of the analysis.

    I give extra credit to my students if they can fully explain to me why and how an element might have more than one label, or how it might be one thing in one context, and something else in another.

    Action/linking verbs are probably the simplest examples of this.

    The fact remains, however, that once a door is chosen, the grammarian must stick to the path. And if one doesn't know the rules, one can not wisely and effectively bend, twist, mutilate, and destroy them.

    But if you do, you can.

    Whenever I encountered a student who instinctively (because it IS an instinct, you know) knew how to do these things, my heart rejoiced.

    Anybody can circle a verb, but a student who can prove to me that the same verb in the same sentence can be both action and linking, depending on one's personal choice of door? That is what I live for.
     
  17. HappyABC

    HappyABC New Member

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    Apr 30, 2007

    Hi. I come from "the old school," so this may or may not be helpful.
    Read on:

    The infinitive "to study" is acting as an adverb and, in my opinion, can modify the verb "moved" or it can modify "to Paris" because
    adverbs can modify other adverbs.

    In both cases, it can answer the same question, "Moved... for what purpose?" and "to Paris... for what purpose?"

    In the sentence diagram, write "to Paris" below the verb "moved," on a diagonal-then-horizontal line. ("to"-then-"Paris").

    Then write "to study" on another diagonal-then-horizontal line below "moved," to indicate that it also modifies "moved." (Moved for what purpose?)

    --OR--

    If you want "to study" to modify "to Paris," write "to Paris" below "moved" and write "to study" on a diagonal-then-horizontal line below "to Paris."

    The prepositional phrase "about physics and chemistry" is also an adverbial phrase, and it modifies the adverb "to study," answering the question "to study...for what purpose?" (or in what manner?)
    Write it under "to study."

    If you would like me to explain the next sentence this way, let me know.

    I, for one, do not believe that grammar is as absolute as math.
    Just read a few news commentary articles by James Fitzpatrick.
    He is the "Andy Rooney" of grammar. Grammar is always evolving to serve the purpose of the times. (In my opinion.)
     

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