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English Can Be Devilish

LongIsland.com

Blame the Devil by Carol Lynn Thomas Believe it or not, there is a book about language usage that's not only user friendly but really funny. Even if you snored through English class --- especially ...

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Blame the Devil
by Carol Lynn Thomas

Believe it or not, there is a book about language usage that's not only user friendly but really funny. Even if you snored through English class --- especially if you did--- chances are you'll appreciate


Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite.


No, I'm not the author, but I wish I were. June Casagrande got there first, and my hat is off to her.

"The rules of language function like one big conspiracy to make most of us feel stupid," Ms. Casagrandre says. She does indeed make a good case for Satan's having a hand in slipping in a large dose of confusion.

Consider this duo:


its


and


it's.



"It's"

is a contraction for "it is." "Its" is a possessive as in "The dog wagged

its

tail." The tricky part about keeping them straight is that nasty apostrophe, the little squiggle we associate with possessives. (The

dog's

tail wagged.) We have to approach these two words with reverse thinking: the possessive has no apostrophe. It's not fair, is it? But that's the way it is.

How many times have you said or heard someone say, "Oh, I feel so nauseous I'm afraid I'm going to throw up"? Considering the fact that "nauseous" means "disgusting," you might want to try to break that habit. If you have an upset stomach, say that you feel "nauseated" instead. Notice that the word "ate" appears in "nause

ate

d." It might help you choose the correct word the next time you've eaten something that disagrees with your stomach.

You also might be tempted to say you feel


badly


when your stomach rebels. No doubt, you've heard that more times than you can count. Are you shaking your head, insisting that there's nothing wrong with that? Well, yes, there is.

The trouble may come from the "ly" ending. We're telling how we feel, remembering that adverbs describe verbs, and so many of them end in "ly." I'll spare you a lengthy explanation of the grammar. Just read on.
"Feel" is a tricky verb. When we use it in the following examples, we see action.
*I feel the sharp edge of the knife.
*The vet feels the dog's belly.
*The dog feels the vet's hand.

In each of those sentences, we see something in progress --- action. For those of you curious about the grammar, notice that in each sentence there is a direct object, a word telling

what

the person or animal feels.
*edge
*belly
*hand

On the other hand, when there is no action in the sentence and no direct object, we are describing how a person or animal feels as in these examples:
*Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck.
*I feel bad about the sad ending of your story.
*Don't you feel bad that she lost her dog?

"Feel" in the above examples is called a "verb of being." It requires an adjective after it. Here are more examples:
*I feel so happy for you.
*Do you feel tired today?
*On Christmas Eve, many children feel too excited to sleep.

The three adjectives are the following:
*happy
*tired
*excited

The list of words and rules bedeviling English speakers is a long one. For a close look at many of them, pick up a copy of


Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies.


You'll be glad you did.

----------
Carol Lynn Thomas is the author of


Out of Time


, an audio book published by Blackstone Audio Books. A retired English teacher, she is currently an editor/writer/consultant for The Middle Grades Reading Network, University of Evansville.

Beginnings is published three times a year and is printed exclusively for the new writer. Only never before published or minimally published writers can submit to Beginnings.

Questions can be emailed to Jenine Killoran, Editor, Founder and Publisher of Beginnings Publishing, Inc., at:

jenineb@optonline.net