I wrote the curriculum series Grammar Galaxy in part because I'm a grammar nerd. Grammar has always come easily to me and I love it. But hand me a Rubik's cube or another visual-spatial puzzle and I just can't get it. If visual-spatial skills are your strength, you could send me written instructions for solving it and I might understand.
In the same spirit, I want to give those of you whose weakness is grammar some auditory instructions that might help.
Why Grammar Matters to Homeschool Moms
I have three reasons.
- We want to be clear in our communication with others. Not all grammar errors result in confusion, but some do and can have a negative impact on us socially and even financially.
- We want to honor the profession of homeschooling. Like it or not, we can be judged for using bad grammar–especially by those who don't support homeschooling.
- We want to model correct grammar for our kids. In speaking and writing, we want to teach them how to be clear and honorable by using good grammar.
3 Grammar Tips for Homeschool Moms
Now let's get to the tips.
Tip #1: Use an -ly adverb if the word explains how.
Adjectives and adverbs are often confused. Both parts of speech are describing words. Adverbs describe verbs with where, when, and how. A common mistake is to use an adjective that doesn't have an -ly ending to describe how.
Think different. Incorrect. How should you think? Think differently.
Drive careful. Incorrect. How should you drive? Drive carefully.
Add the -ly to the following adjectives in your mind or out loud.
He was acting suspicious.
Print your name neat.
Tip #2 Use the pronoun I instead of me to discuss what you did or plan to do.
Me is an object pronoun. It is used when something is done to or for you. We use I when we are the subject, talking about what we did or will do.
We wouldn't say, “Me went shopping.” It just sounds wrong. But when another person is involved, we might say, “Me and my friend went shopping.” It could sound natural to you.
To identify the error, take the other people out of the subject. Here's another example.
Me and my neighbors watched the fireworks. Take the neighbors out and you have: Me watched the fireworks. We know that's wrong. The best correction is My neighbors and I watched the fireworks. It's more polite to put yourself last in the subject.
Yesterday, me and Jamie had coffee. Incorrect. Yesterday, Jamie and I had coffee.
I wish that me and my friends lived in the same neighborhood. A tricky one with a clause, but take the friends out. I wish me lived in the same neighborhood. Incorrect. I wish that my friends and I lived in the same neighborhood.
Your turn. Correct the following sentences in your mind or out loud.
Hannah and me had a great time thrifting. (Hannah and I had a great time thrifting.)
Tomorrow you and me should go. (Tomorrow you and I should go.)
Did I tell you that me and the other moms are taking a girls' trip? (Did I tell you that the other moms and I are taking a girls' trip?)
Tip #3 With has, have, or had, use the past participle form of the verb that ends with the /n/ sound if available.
The perfect tense can be challenging to remember, so I'm sharing this little cheat to help. We use the helping verbs has, have, or had with the past participle to indicate timing of the activity. A common error is to use the past tense rather than the past participle with has, have, or had.
For example, I had went to the restaurant on time. Went is the past tense of go, but it is not the past participle–gone is. The correct sentence is I had gone to the restaurant on time.
You know the line “You had me at hello” from the movie Jerry McGuire? I know I had many of you until I said past participle. So I'm going to simplify this by telling you that when using has, have, or had, choose the verb form that ends in the /n/ sound if there is one. I had went to the restaurant on time. Went doesn't end in the /n/ sound but with /t/. Is there a verb form of went that ends in /n/? Yes. It's gone. I had gone.
Let's try another one. I had saw your post on Facebook. Saw is the past tense of see. Is there a form of see that ends with an /n/ sound? Yes! It's seen. Let's try it. I had seen your post on Facebook.
Your turn. Correct these in your mind or out loud.
I had gave the money to my daughter. (I had given the money to my daughter.)
We have wrote the company about the problem several times. (We have written the company about the problem several times.)
I have not forgot your story. (I have not forgotten your story.)
Note that this trick doesn't work with every verb, but you'll be correct more often.
Now that I've taught you these three tips, here's a sentence to quiz you. Restate this sentence correctly:
You and me have saw how to use grammar correct. (You and I have seen how to use grammar correctly.)
Let me know if this was helpful. If you're ready to learn more, consider reading Grammar Galaxy with your kids. The stories include some humor that will only make sense to adults. You can download a complete sample to try at funtolearnbooks.com/samples.
Here's what to look for in an elementary grammar curriculum.
Have a happy homeschool week!