“Conjunction Junction. What’s your function?”

My apologies for being silent for so long.

I just got back from the sixth grade.

The writing of a novel for the NaNoWriMo challenge has made me look at grammar and punctuation again. I know the task was to just write and get to the 50,000 word mark, but I found myself conscious of how I was writing. That has been an unanticipated response. I thought it would be easy just to pound out 50,000 words. And just so you know, this is a blog post and although I hope that I do not make horrible mistakes while I am writing, there will probably be some. Maybe more than some. Or should that be more than a few?

So here’s what happened.

While rummaging through the junk drawer of my desk, I found a little booklet that I have kept for the past 46 years. This booklet is titled, Fundamentals of Grammar. The notation on the inside cover is just two lines: “Copyright by William Leahy,” with two dates: 1962, 1964. Our school, a Catholic grade school – uniforms, pleated plaid skirts, knee socks and saddle shoes – had a little bookstore and I bought this book from it when I was in the sixth grade. From what I can recall, I bought it (probably cost something like 10 cents) to help me with my English grammar homework.

There’s only four topics in the table of contents: The Sentence and Its Parts, Words and Their Uses, Punctuation, Capitalization. As I paged through, I came to remember why I kept this book for so many years – It is written for a grade schooler.

I love that.

There’s no reason to make grammar, punctuation and sentence structure complicated. Here’s an example from the book:

Direct Object

The direct object of a verb receives the action of the verb or shows the result of the action. It answers the question What? or Whom? after each action verb.

He used the book last. (He use What?)
John liked her very much. (John liked Whom?)”

After all this time, I still remember those examples. What really caught my attention was Voice, Tense and Mood. I had forgotten about those parts of grammar. I use them, of course, but I am not conscious of them when I write, and I should be.

There are some differences between 1964 and 2011, the use of the comma being one of them. A controversial little thing where its usage has almost become a free-for-all. Of course, the biggest difference between 1964 and 2011 is sentence structure and spelling. You’re not sure what I mean by that?

R U serious?

One thought on ““Conjunction Junction. What’s your function?”

  1. The beauty of grammar is that it is (to some extent) universal. Even in Chinese and Japanese one can easily find back the very concept of a “direct object”.

    Sometimes one language allows you to express an idea more directly, in less words, than would another. But there is always a logic involved — and any human, whatever his mother tongue, can grasp a logic.

    You are right to cherish your language. And a sixth grade textbook perfectly does.

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