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11 Great Uses of Technology in the Classroom

Students using technology in the classroom.

Students using technology in the classroom.

Society has progressed into the digital age, and the field of education has advanced right along with it. Teachers must now reach out to a generation that is more comfortable asking questions by talking to Siri than by raising a hand in the physical classroom.

Whether you teach at a school that offers hundreds of iPads or a single dinosaur computer with dial-up (if that’s still even a thing), the following tips and tools will help you use technology in the classroom to foster learning in your tech-savvy students.

1. Bring teaching into a digital environment.

Ever wish there was “an app for that” when it came to teaching? Well, platforms such as EdmodoSchoology, and Moodle are now available to help teachers stay on top of course content, assignments, and assessments. Your students (and you) will love the ease and convenience that modern technology offers.

2. Give your students a leg up in grammar with GrammarCamp for Classrooms.

With access to a top-notch online grammar class, pesky spelling and grammar questions can finally be answered with ease! This resource allows older students to learn at home or in the classroom with interactive games and quizzes to help them retain lesson material.

3. Teach every subject, from physics to gym, using iPads.

With its internal accelerometers and balance sensors, the iPad is capable of recording the precise measurements necessary for physics experiments (e.g., with the Clinometer app). Ideal for kinesthetic learners, mobile devices can be used in gym class to assess students’ exertion and balance capabilities.

4. Liven up math, geography, and other subjects with Google Maps.

Are your students bored with English literature, math problems, or geographic measurements? No sweat! Recapture their interest with Google Maps, which has innumerable applications for education. Games such as Smarty Pins and Earth-Picker combine computer literacy with educational trivia, while My Maps lets you create your own maps and learn how to read them. With a little creativity, Google Maps is a valuable learning tool in the classroom.

5. Encourage your students to download free ebooks.

Ebooks that are in the public domain are available through Project Gutenberg, a site that offers a wide variety of classic literature for free. If you teach literature in a post-secondary school, you can provide links to electronic versions of your course texts to save your students some money (and to save paper).

6. Enhance audio learning with recording apps.

Not only can you record group discussions with a voice-recording app, but you can also use audio recordings to improve students’ ability to read aloud. Students can record their reading multiple times and listen to the audio playback. This can help students hear their levels of fluency while reading and recognize when they are speaking with expression. Though technology can have a distancing effect (e.g., paying attention to Facebook rather than the textbook), it can also help students to engage with concepts in unprecedented ways.

GrammarCamp for Classrooms7. Have fun with SMART Boards.

Kids love moving, seeing, hearing, and interacting with information in exciting ways. What better method to bring all these teaching modes together than interactive whiteboards? In addition to their uses for notetaking, brainstorming, and media presentations, you can play games with your students using SMART Boards. Download templates for games like Jeopardy!, use interactive websites such as BrainPOP, or do some research to discover other relevant whiteboard activities.

8. Roll call? Or Balloon Pop?

Given the various options for using technology in the classroom, having students shout “Here!” and raise their hands seems a bit out of date. Instead of counting those outstretched arms by hand (no pun intended), you can use an interactive whiteboard to keep track of attendance. Students can even be made responsible for their own morning check-ins by tapping virtual balloons with their names on them. This use of technology saves time and helps you keep track of your class all at once.

9. Connect students to professionals and peers with Skype.

Though students are tempted to text in class, communication applications can be channeled for educational use. Programs such as the Skype an Author Network allow you to arrange interactive Q&A sessions with authors of children’s books for free. Or, you can use Skype to interact with other classrooms, enable remote participation and collaboration, or practice speaking in another language. Make the call (okay, that was a pun) to use technology to your classroom’s advantage.

10. Promote collaborative skills using Google Docs.

The importance of collaboration in educational, professional, and business sectors cannot be taught through teacher-oriented methods of learning (e.g., “the talking head” of traditional lectures). To prepare students for the working world, use platforms such as Google Docs for group projects. One idea is to have your students write collaborative stories using different font colors to keep track of each student’s edits. This program is also handy for shared research projects.

11. Use apps to get instant feedback.

If you’re wondering how your students are responding to your use of technology in the classroom, why not have them fill out a poll to receive their feedback? Use apps and programs such as MentimeterPoll Everywhere, or Socrative to gauge students’ responses to content-related questions or teaching-related feedback in real time. For once, mobile phones in class aren’t a distraction to learning.

Remember, technology is an incredible tool that can either enhance your students’ education or detract from it. If used creatively, apps, websites, resources, and devices can prepare your students with an education that is suitable for the digital age.

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That vs. Which: Proper Usage Is the New Black

That vs. Which

That vs. Which

“All problems are boring until they’re your own.”

As pessimistic as that sounds, Red’s right. Maybe you’re in the middle of a sentence and you realize: “Wait! I don’t know if I should use that or which in this instance.” It’s important to pick the right one. You don’t want to go Jessica Simpson when you’ve got Rihanna.

Luckily, proper word usage is the new black. If you’re writing in British English, good news: that and which are accepted as interchangeable. However, if you’re writing in American English (or if you want your sentence to be as precise as possible), you need to use that and which correctly.

Before you can decide whether that or which is appropriate for a sentence, it’s important to know the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

Restrictive Versus Non-restrictive Clauses

A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. If a restrictive clause were removed, the sentence would not make sense at all, or the meaning of the sentence would be significantly altered.

A non-restrictive clause introduces helpful information, but that information is not necessary for someone to be able to understand the sentence.

Remember: Every sentence is a story. Completing that story requires the correct choice: that or which.

Three Steps: That vs. Which

It’s important to keep restrictive and non-restrictive clauses in mind when considering the three steps for deciding whether to use that or which:

  1. Use that to introduce a restrictive clause and which to introduce a non-restrictive clause.
  2. When writing a restrictive clause, do not place a comma before that. When writing a non-restrictive clause, place a comma before which.
  3. When a non-restrictive clause appears in the middle of a sentence, place commas around it.

O’Neill, scatter the nuns! There’s a van full of examples coming through!

Using That

Sentence Structure“All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens and to absorb its power.

With the phrase “smarter than other chickens,” it is important to understand that Red is referring to a specific chicken: the smartest chicken.

“There used to be a sign that said ‘CAUTION! WET FLOOR!’ Really told people what was going on.”

The same can be said here. If the phrase “that said ‘CAUTION! WET FLOOR'” was absent, we would have no detail about the sign itself. The phrase is restrictive, so that is used.

“But it wasn’t my moral instincts that led me to Nicaragua in the summer of ’88. It was a young freedom fighter named Carlos.”

And as stated in Rule 2, that is not preceded by a comma because it is a restrictive clause.

Using Which

Now let’s look at which:

“I tried everything: soap shavings, fox pee, which they sell at the Home Depot for $120 a gallon . . .”

The non-restrictive clause following which reads almost like an addendum; it’s just extra information—a side note.

“So what if he drools a small pond? He takes care of you, doesn’t he? He takes care of your mother, and he’s handsome, and he’s good. And at least he’s trying, which is a lot more than I can say for you!”

As this example shows, which should be preceded by a comma.

“Well, I’ve always thought that agnostic was sort of a cop-out. But you know, if I had to label it, I’d say that I’m a secular humanist, which is not to say I’m not spiritual.”

Piper’s rambling illustrates how non-restrictive clauses simply add more information that is not completely necessary to the creation of a complete sentence. The same can be said for O’Neill’s rant against red velvet cake:

“No, in your heart of hearts, you know as well as I do, red velvet . . . tastes like Play-Doh. It is not velvety. And the only thing that’s good about it is the cream cheese frosting, which is meant to live on top of carrot cake, like God intended.”

The addendum about carrot cake is not imperative to the sentence that explains the only good element of red velvet cake.

Conclusion

Seeing that and which used incorrectly is more depressing than a Tori Amos cover band. Luckily, you have all the tools in your belt to use the correct word without fail. Now you can kick up your feet, relax, and maybe even enjoy a King Cone.

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9 English Grammar Videos That Are Anything But Boring

English Grammar Videos

Grammar is often labelled a boring subject, associated with dusty classrooms and complicated worksheets. Admittedly, we can understand why grammar doesn’t inspire happy thoughts in many people, but as any English teacher can tell you, grammar mishaps can be hilarious.

Don’t believe us? We’ve assembled a list of nine English grammar videos that prove how funny English grammar can be. Some are educational, and some are, well, just plain comical. Watch on and see for yourself.

1. Semicolon (feat. Solange)

Ah, the elusive semicolon. This tricky punctuation mark has created problems for many a student. Unfortunately, this hilarious rap will not teach you anything about the semicolon—unless you watch it right to the end. Regardless, you will laugh—hard.

Warning: This video contains some graphic language.

2. Word Crimes

“Weird Al” Yankovic educates the world on word crimes with this hilarious song. “Word Crimes,” of course, are grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. It’s not all jokes, either. This English grammar video contains some good pieces of writing advice. Trust us, it’s a good use of three minutes.

3. The Elements of Style

William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White’s Elements of Style has been remixed into a clever rap. The video has it all: literary references, funny costumes, and solid writing advice. Turn your “ink to gold” and learn “how to put the pen down right” with this great video.

4. How to Pronounce Beyoncé

Have you ever wondered the proper way to pronounce Beyoncé? How about hyperbole? Or chipotle? Well, Pronunciation Manual will not help you. This YouTube channel is filled with horribly mispronounced words, a spoof of the Pronunciation Book channel, which provides accurate pronunciations. You will never say the word Beyoncé the same again.

Disclaimer: Just so everyone is clear, this is not actually how you say Beyoncé.

5. Stop Embarrassing Yourself

Saying words incorrectly is, according to Hank Green, the most embarrassing thing ever. Using his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers, Hank manages to provide a lesson on grammar, geography, and pronunciation in just three minutes.

6. Schoolhouse Rock: Conjunction Junction

A list of English grammar videos would not be complete without this Schoolhouse Rock video. It’s just a classic. Sprinkled with light humor and set to an incredibly catchy tune, “Conjunction Junction” has educated a generation of people on proper grammar (even if said people have forgotten it years later). Check it out to gain a comprehensive understanding of conjunctions.

Warning: There is a very good chance this song will get stuck in your head for ages—likely until next Christmas, when it will inevitably be replaced by an endless cycle of “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” (which is just as catchy if somewhat less educational).

7. Apostrophe Usage: The Rescue of a Misused Apostrophe

Set in modern day Chatham, Ontario, a group of soldiers go on a mission to save the misused and misplaced apostrophe. This is their story.

Disclaimer: If you witness punctuation misuse, please report it to Scribendi.com.

8. Noah Fence Taken

You know when you’re scrolling through your Facebook timeline and you see a status with really bad grammar—so bad it makes you cringe? Well, Jackfilms put that feeling into a video series. Join him as he recites some of the worst YouTube comments and social media posts of the week. This video is guaranteed to make you laugh, cringe, and maybe even cry.

Warning: This video also contains graphic language. He is, after all, reading Internet comments.

9. Learning English Pronunciation

If you learned the English language as a teenager or as an adult, then you remember the struggle. Understanding and pronouncing are two very different things, and it can be hard to get your pronunciation just right. This scene from the movie The Pink Panther pretty much sums up the struggle all English language learners face.

Conclusion

See? We told you we could prove it! Grammar may be boring at times, and English is certainly a hard language to learn, but we hope you see that learning grammar can be fun. If you need more help with English grammar, check out Inklyo’s GrammarCamp course or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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What Is an Irregular Verb? Find Out and Test Your Knowledge!

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

An Introduction to Irregular Verbs

An irregular verb is a verb that is not conjugated (changed according to tense) in the same way as most other verbs. While native English speakers learn which verbs are irregular as young children, memorizing this seemingly random list of irregular verbs can be very difficult for English as a second language (ESL) learners. Still a bit confused?

Let’s start by looking at some common regular verbs:

Regular Verbs Chart

Makes sense, right? Just add –ed, and you’ve got yourself a verb in the past tense. But this rule does not work for irregular verbs. For example, fly doesn’t become flyed, but flew. Eat doesn’t become eated, but ate, and so on. Here are more examples of irregular verbs:

Irregular Verbs Chart

For a more comprehensive list of irregular verbs, check out this dictionary of irregular verbs. Unfortunately for ESL learners, the only way to be sure about what is an irregular verb and what is a regular verb is to memorize them while reading and speaking English. With lots of time and practice, even a non-native speaker can be an expert in these tricky parts of speech!

Test Your Knowledge!

Think you know all there is to know about irregular verbs? Put that knowledge to the test with this extensive irregular verb quiz created by the language experts at Scribendi.com. For the seasoned English professional, this quiz can be a great way to brush up on some of the lesser-known irregular verbs. For the ESL learner, quizzes like this one can be a great way to test your learning progress!

Image source: Olu Eletu/Stocksnap.io

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The English Language Learner’s Guide to English Prepositions

English Prepositions

Peter flew to the window. Then, he was at the window. Earlier in the night, he had flown by the window. He thought it was open, so he flew into the window. Wendy saw Peter from the window. Her breath left a mark on the window. Peter’s favorite part of the window was how it opened.

All I had to do in the above sentences was change the prepositions and alter the wording a bit, and bam! they were new sentences with completely new meanings. Still, the object of each of these sentences was the window. As you can see, prepositions are small but mighty parts of speech. To English language learners, these pesky little words can be very challenging to master.

It’s really no surprise that English prepositions are so difficult to learn. For one thing, English has an excessive number of these relational words—more, in fact, than any other language out there. On top of that, the rules for when to use each preposition can be quite arbitrary. Native English speakers know when to use each preposition only because they are so familiar with the common uses of these words, but not because there are technical, logical rules that dictate their usage.

So, you may be wondering, is it even possible for an English language learner to master prepositions? Well, that depends. Are you willing to do lots of reading, lots of writing, and lots of practicing? Then of course it’s possible! Anything is possible, after all. All it takes is faith and trust . . . and a little bit of pixie dust!

What is a preposition?

A preposition is a part of speech that indicates the temporal, spatial, or logical relationship between the object and the rest of the sentence. Common prepositions include to, of, for, by, from, about, and around. There are many others, including above, after, before, below, beneath, during, following, into, inside, near, onto, outside, through, toward, under, and upon.

Prepositions are very important to the meaning of many sentences. Just look at these sentences about Peter and the Lost Boys to see what I mean. The prepositions are in bold, and the objects are underlined.

Peter flew home to Neverland.

The Lost Boys had been waiting for Peter for hours.

Thankfully, none of the boys knew how to tell time.

Why are prepositions important?

Peter Pan Let’s look more carefully at each example. We can do this by removing the prepositions and seeing what effect that has on the sentence.

Peter flew home Neverland.

In the first example, to is needed to connect Neverland to the rest of the sentence. Without it, the sentence stops making sense after home.

The Lost Boys had been waiting Peter hours.

In the second sentence, there are two objects: Peter and hours. For establishes the role played by these objects. Without for, Peter actually becomes an adjective describing hours, which neither makes sense nor conveys the intended meaning.

Thankfully, none the boys knew how tell time.

In the final example, removing the prepositions means there is now no logical connection between none and the boys, nor is it clear how tell time fits into the rest of the sentence.

As you can see, prepositions are very important for creating meaning!

More examples

I know memorization isn’t the best way to learn, but when it comes to prepositions, it’s probably your best bet. Here’s a quick list of rules and examples of proper preposition usage to remember.

  • Peter can go home or be at home, but he has to go to his house or be at his house. He can’t go house or be at house.
  • Saying that Peter flew by Captain Hook’s ship is very similar to saying that he flew past the ship. However, saying that Peter lives by Captain Hook’s ship means he lives near the ship, not that he passes by the ship to get home.
  • Tinkerbell recovered from an injury, but she is done with pirates and she hopes for a peaceful future with Peter.
  • Peter can fly to Wendy’s window at night, noon, or midnight, but if he travels to the window at other times, he must go in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
  • Peter Pan was published in 1911, but it was published on a Friday.

Test your knowledge and learn more!

Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better way to practice than to take a quiz! If you’d like to learn more about when to use prepositions, you should take a break from Peter Pan and focus your attention instead on another magical topic: puppies! This fun quiz covers basic preposition usage with help from your favorite furry friends.

Or maybe you’re looking for more comprehensive information about prepositions. If that’s the case, check out The Complete Guide to the Parts of Speech, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about the building blocks of the English language. How magical!

Image source: Unsplash/Pixabay.com, Stevebidmead/Pixabay.com

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How to Distinguish between Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

If you speak English (and if you’re reading this, you presumably do), you’ve probably confused two words that are pronounced or spelled the same but have different meanings. This is extremely easy to do, because English contains many homonyms, homophones, and homographs.

Hold on a minute—more words that are similar-looking and easy to confuse? I’m supposed to be helping you, not making this more complicated! While homonyms, homophones, and homographs make English much more difficult, that complexity also makes the language very interesting, and occasionally, very funny.

Understanding the difference between homonyms, homophones, and homographs is vital for communicating properly, so let’s dive in!

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

Homonyms

Homonyms (homo meaning same and nym meaning name) are words that sound alike but are different in meaning. They can be spelled the same or differently. It’s important not to misuse homonyms, though, because the meaning of what you want to say can change drastically if you confuse the word’s meaning.

For example, if your friend tells you that he saw a murder on the way home from work, you’ll probably want to clarify whether he means that he witnessed a violent crime or whether he saw a group of crows. This is because it will be difficult to tell which he means over the phone or in a text message, as the words are spelled the same and pronounced the same. (However, it will probably be easy to tell which he means in person, as you’ll be able to see what kind of facial expression he’s making!)

Homophones

There, their, and they’re are probably the most misused words in the English language. They’ve been misused on restaurant signs, in Internet comments, and across bumper stickers. What is it about these words that makes their usage so tricky? The answer: they’re homophones.

Homophones (homo meaning same and phone meaning sound) are words that are pronounced the same but are different in meaning. They differ from homonyms because they are not spelled the same, as you can see in the example of there (indicating a place or idea), their (indicating possession), and they’re (indicating a contraction of they are).

Homographs

Homographs (homo meaning same and graph meaning writing) differ from homonyms and homophones in that homographs are not pronounced the same. They are spelled the same, however, and are different in meaning. They are not so easily confused in spoken English, but they can be tricky to spot in written English.

Consider the word bow. Did you picture a tied-up ribbon? The front of a boat? The device used to play a string instrument? An actor lowering his upper body? The word bow is a homograph with different pronunciations and many different meanings. So you’ll have to consider the sentence’s context to determine the intended meaning.

Conclusion

By considering the differences between the words themselves—nym, phone, and graph—it’s easier to grasp and remember their definitions. Looking at common examples of homonyms, homophones, and homographs helps to display their differences.

While the English language doesn’t make it easy, understanding the differences between words that look or sound the same is important for getting your point across and for understanding others, both of which are key to successful communication.

Image sources: karolyn83/Pixabay.com, TheDalleyLama/Pixabay.com

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Understanding Verb Moods with 15 Hilarious Tweets

Understanding Verb Moods

Understanding Verb MoodsVerb moods are not unlike the moods of people (happy, sad, angry, etc.) in that they indicate the manner in which an action or condition is intended or conceived. Unlike people’s moods, though, which have an endless variety, a verb may only occur in one of three verb moods: the indicative mood, the imperative mood, or the subjunctive mood. Using funny tweets, we can begin to understand the different verb moods and how they function in English.

Also, as a disclaimer, we’re not saying that these tweets are flawless in terms of grammar and punctuation. They are, after all, just tweets. However, we hope they’ll help you understand the various verb moods in a way that is more entertaining than that of a typical grammar article!

The Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is used to express an assertion or denial or to ask a question. Since it’s the most common verb mood, most of the statements you make or read will be in the indicative mood. The tweets below all use the indicative mood, each one asserting a statement:

Although this tweet doesn’t make a statement, it does ask a question, meaning it also uses the indicative mood:

https://twitter.com/mindyfurano/status/709207975315935232

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is also a common mood, but it is used to give orders or to make requests. Take a look at the demands presented in the tweets below.

https://twitter.com/ellaceron/status/591240860743966720

https://twitter.com/kat_murp/status/714517569521123328

The Subjunctive Mood

Of the three moods, the subjunctive mood is the one that causes the most problems because it rarely appears in everyday conversation or writing. It is only used in a set of specific circumstances.

It is used in in contrary-to-fact clauses beginning with if:

It is used in wish statements:

https://twitter.com/whitneycummings/status/568897975256117248

It is used in “that” clauses following verbs such as ask, insist, recommend, request, and suggest:

https://twitter.com/theblackking11/status/713997727349088256

It is used in certain set expressions such as be that as it may, as it were, come rain or shine, or far be it from me:

Finally, it is used in a dependent clause attached to an independent clause utilizing an adjective that expresses urgency (such as crucial, essential, important, imperative, necessary, or urgent):

Whatever your mood, follow Inklyo on Twitter for more great grammar-related content!

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The Wizarding Guide to Conditional Sentences

Conditional Sentences

Conditional Sentences

  • If I don’t read every day, I get very grumpy.
  • If I read Harry Potter enough, I’ll surely receive my acceptance letter to Hogwarts.
  • If I hadn’t read the entire series multiple times, I wouldn’t be able to write this article about wizardry and the types of conditional sentences.
  • Unless you have something against magic, you should enjoy reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Not only do the above sentences show how nerdy (read: awesome) I am, but they are also all conditional sentences. In fact, they demonstrate all four types of conditional sentences: the real conditional, the unreal conditional, the mixed conditional, and the special conditional. Cool, right?

Okay, so I know that learning about conditional sentences isn’t exactly as exciting as, say, Quidditch. And believe me, if I could wave my wand (11.5-inch beechwood with a unicorn hair core, in case you were wondering) and magically put this knowledge in your head, I would. However, if Harry Potter has taught me anything, it’s that people cannot be taught unless they are willing to learn. And that, my friend, is why you shall have to take up your own study of the types of conditional sentences—with my help, of course. And yes, you do have to call me “Professor.”

What Is a Conditional Sentence?

A conditional sentence describes something that is a condition for something else. That is, for one thing to occur, the other must have occurred first. Conditionals often, though not always, begin with if, like these:

If I fail Potions, I won’t be able to become an Auror.

If Snape weren’t so scary, I wouldn’t do so poorly in Potions.

Not all conditional sentences begin with if. In some examples, the conditional portion of the sentence actually occurs in the second part of the sentence. In these cases, no comma is required.

You should try out for the Seeker position if you want to play Quidditch.

Meet Harry at the pitch when you’re done Herbology class.

That wasn’t so hard, right? Learning about conditional sentences is as easy as Wingardium Leviosa—just remember to use the swish and flick, and you’ll have it down in no time! Now on to slightly more complicated spells—er, I mean, grammar rules.

Real and Unreal Conditionals

Conditionals can be real or unreal. That is, they can describe an event that has happened or is likely to happen, or they can describe an event that has not happened and is not likely to happen. Here are some examples of real conditionals.

I feel happy when I read Harry Potter.

If someone borrows my copy of The Philosopher’s Stone, that person must promise to return it within a week.

Here are some unreal conditional sentences:

If I were an Animagus, I would definitely transform into an owl.

If Rowling hadn’t written the Harry Potter books, the world would have been a less magical place.

The first example is an unreal conditional because I am not, in fact, an Animagus, and sadly, I have no hope of becoming one. The second is an unreal conditional because Rowling did write the Harry Potter books (thank goodness!).

Mixed Conditionals

A mixed conditional sentence is one that occurs when the two clauses—the if clause and the main clause—occur in two different time periods. A mixed conditional may be saying that an event that is currently occurring will cause a future event, or it may be saying that an event that has already happened is affecting a current event. These examples should help make things a bit clearer.

If you’ve ever been in a tangle with Devil’s Snare, you know how unwise it is to struggle against the plant’s constriction.

If I had attended Hogwarts like I was supposed to, I would probably be a Transfiguration professor by now.

It should be noted that like other types of conditional sentences, mixed conditionals can be either real or unreal. The above examples could be classified as either real or unreal, depending on how seriously you take your favorite fictional universes.

Special Conditionals

Of all the types of conditional sentences, special conditionals are probably the trickiest to understand. Special conditionals describe events that can only occur if something else happens first. There are five common forms of special conditional sentences: unless, whether (or not), even if/even though, only if/if only, if so/if not.

Confused? Fair enough. Allow me to shed some Lumos on special conditionals with these brief explanations and examples:

Unless: The event will not occur except under a set of specified conditions. The condition is an exception to what is otherwise the rule.

Harry would not have been able to conjure a Patronus charm unless Professor Lupin had taught him how.

Whether / Or Not: Whether is used in the place of if when there is more than one option, and or not comes into play when one of the options is the opposite of the other. Whether means that, regardless of the options, the same course of action will be taken.

Whether he wins or dies, Harry will still be upset that someone entered him in the Triwizard Tournament.

Whether it’s right or not, Harry can’t help but have a crush on Ginny.

Even If / Even Though: Even if means that, regardless of the existence of the condition, the outcome of the event will not change. Even though means that the condition certainly does exist, but it still will not affect the outcome of the event.

I will remain loyal to Professor Dumbledore even if no one else is.

I will remain loyal to Professor Dumbledore even though he is dead.

Only If / If Only: The first phrase places an emphasis on the special condition that must be met for an event to occur. If only is used in an unreal conditional to express wishes or regrets.

Ron agrees that Harry can date Ginny only if they keep the snogging to a minimum.

If only I had been born after 1998, I would certainly have received my Hogwarts acceptance letter.

If So / If Not: This type of conditional sentence features a shortened if clause that is used because the condition has already been mentioned.

Gilderoy Lockhart is supposed to be signing autographs today. If so, Flourish and Blotts is going to be very busy.

I hope I have time to buy a new broomstick. If not, I’ll have to borrow someone else’s for now.

Conclusion

And that, dear student, concludes my lesson on the different types of conditional sentences. If you think that using Harry Potter to learn about grammar is as cool as taking down a mountain troll, you might want to check out these Harry Potter-themed articles on homophones, comma usage, interrogative sentences, subject–verb agreement, ellipses, exclamatory sentences, and pronouns.

If you’d like to learn about the other kinds of sentences, check out Inklyo’s newest ebook, The Complete Guide to Sentence Structure, on Amazon or at your local Flourish and Blotts.

Image source: Eirik_Raudi/Pixabay.com

Sentence Structure Ebook

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9 Proofreading Tips for Revising Your Essay at the Last Minute

A Quick Checklist for the Procrastination-Prone Student

Proofreading Tips

It’s two o’clock in the morning.

For hours, you’ve been frantically writing a paper that is due tomorrow. By some sweet miracle, you’ve managed to stay away from Netflix long enough to finish writing the first draft of your paper.

You breathe a sigh of relief and prepare to crawl away from the perils of your desk toward the safety of your bed. But alas, you do not make it.

Instead, terror strikes your heart. You gasp and clutch your shaking hand to your sweaty chest, for you’ve just realized that the battle is not yet won. Though you’ve finished writing, you still face one more daunting task: you must proofread your paper.

How will you do it?

You open your web browser, and though it takes almost all the willpower you have left, you resist the urge to post a Facebook update about your progress (“Currently trading in my sanity for a degree in philosophy. On second thought, likely never had any sanity in the first place”). Instead, you go straight to Google and frantically start searching for proofreading tips that will allow you to get more than three hours of sleep tonight.

Search no more, my friend. Though they won’t replace a substantial edit by a pair of fresh eyes (nothing can), these proofreading tips should help you remove the most glaring errors from your paper. Finishing that home stretch while retaining your precious mental marbles just got a bit less stressful.

But first, a disclaimer: If you struggle with the rules of grammar and punctuation, even the handiest of proofreading tips may not help you polish your paper. Unfortunately, these tips will only be helpful if you’re familiar with the errors you seek. A short-turnaround proofreading service may be something to consider if you don’t have confidence in your own editing or proofreading abilities. With that in mind, here are some proofreading tips to try.

Consistency Proofreading Tips

Ask any editor, proofreader, or college professor what irks them most about student papers, and you’ll likely find that inconsistency takes the cake. No matter how you slice that chocolate torte, writing something five different ways in the same paper is just plain wrong. The best way to eliminate inconsistency, especially after a long night of writing, is to tackle each potential inconsistency error one by one.

1. Check Capitalization and Acronyms

Names, terms, titles, and headings should all be written the same way. To find inconsistencies, scan your document for every usage of a term, and make sure each instance is written the same way. Acronyms should also be used consistently. Each acronym should be defined the first time it is used, and it should replace the term it represents for every use thereafter.

2. Check Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes

It can be easy to mix up hyphens (-), en dashes (–), and em dashes (—). They look so similar! Check out this guide to using these pesky punctuation marks, then use Ctrl + F to search your document for each instance of hyphenation and dash usage. Pay special attention to hyphenated terms!

Proofreading Tips Poster
Click to enlarge.

3. Check Spelling

Check the language setting of your word processor. Is it set to U.S., U.K., Canadian, or Australian English? To make sure the language is consistent throughout, select the entire body of text in your document (which you can easily do by pressing Ctrl + A), and choose the correct variety of English. Though this should help you find inconsistencies in spelling, be aware that Word will not catch all spelling inconsistencies. For example, realize and realise are both accepted spellings for the same word in Microsoft Word’s U.K., Canadian, and Australian English dictionaries. The same goes for words like labor/labour and labeling/labelling. To avoid inconsistencies, search your document for both versions of words that may be spelled inconsistently.

For specialized terms that Word doesn’t recognize, after checking the spelling using an online dictionary, add the terms to your Word dictionary so that every instance of the correctly spelled word is recognized. That way, only words that are actually being spelled wrong will be labeled as such.

4. Check Formatting and Headings

Read each of your headings individually, and make sure they are all formatted consistently. Then check that the indentation and spacing are the same across all paragraphs. Remember that most style guides recommend using only one space after a period, not two.

Other Proofreading Tips

Consistency obviously isn’t the only worry when it comes to proofreading. Grammar and punctuation errors are usually lurking in student papers—especially those written in a rush. If your grasp of grammar is decent, you should be able to solve most of your own problems. The trick, of course, is finding those problems. Here are three proofreading tips for detecting the errors that your eyes habitually overlook.

5. Print Your Paper

Though this will not be a feasible option for long papers, like dissertations, it can be a useful tip for shorter documents. (You’re definitely not trying to proofread your dissertation at the last minute anyway, right?) Giving your eyes a break from screen time can help make them more aware of errors that they missed before.

6. Change the Appearance of Your Paper

If printing isn’t an option, consider doing something else to change the appearance of your paper. Copying the content into a different document without formatting is one option, as is temporarily changing the font size or style.

7. Read Your Paper out Loud

There are two potential downfalls to this technique. The first is that reading a paper aloud actually takes much more time than most students allot for such a task, and the second is that it can be difficult to focus long enough to read the entire paper. These are the very reasons why reading your paper out loud is a handy proofreading technique: doing this forces you to slow down. It also helps stop your brain from automatically skipping words.

8. Find a Study Buddy

While not technically a last-minute tip, exchanging papers with a study buddy can be very useful when it comes to ironing the kinks out of your final draft. Make friends with a classmate at the beginning of the semester, and then send your papers to each other for a quick read before submission. One more disclaimer: make sure your study buddy is an adept proofreader!

9. Give Up . . .

. . . On doing it yourself, that is. If you’re running out of time and still not feeling confident about your final draft, check out Scribendi.com’s short turnaround times for essay editing and proofreading. For important assignments, enlisting the help of an expert editor may be the best proofreading tip of all.

Image source: B-D-S/BigStockPhoto.com

ProofreadingCamp

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Saying It All with the Compound-Complex Sentence

Compound-Complex Sentence

A red telephone.

Do you know what I love most about English grammar? How little there is to learn.

Everything is so simple, so straightforward. I never feel confused about any of it. That’s why everyone is so good at learning the ins and outs of English grammar: it’s so easy.

Ha, ha, ha. I know—I’m hilarious.

Of course, mastering the rules of any language is a challenge, but for some, English is a particularly difficult nut to crack. Take, for example, sentence structure. There are four basic sentence structures in English, and the first three—simple sentences, compound sentences, and complex sentences—are relatively easy to understand.

But what the heck is a compound-complex sentence? How many darn clauses can we possibly squeeze into one sentence, anyway?

A Quick Recap of Sentence Structure

If you’re having a hard time remembering what the different sentence structures are, take a look at the handy chart below. In the examples, independent clauses are marked by italics, while dependent clauses are in bold font.

A chart of the types of sentences.

Independent and Dependent Clauses Revisited

A quick reminder: an independent clause can stand on its own as a sentence, while a dependent clause cannot. It’s easy to distinguish the two types of clauses if you simply separate them from their sentence and see if they still make sense. For example:

I have never been a great student, but because I like grammar, I have spent a lot of time studying sentence structure.

There are two independent clauses in this sentence. These clauses can act as their own sentences:

I have never been a great student.

I have spent a lot of time studying sentence structure.

The dependent clause cannot stand on its own:

But because I like grammar.

As you can see, the dependent clause makes no sense on its own. It depends on the other clauses in the sentence to give it context and meaning. Because the full sentence contains two independent clauses and one dependent clause, it is a compound-complex sentence.

The Compound-Complex Sentence

Still confused? Fair enough. Let’s take a more extensive look at the compound-complex sentence. As mentioned, a compound-complex sentence is composed of two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. The compound-complex sentence is a combination of the compound sentence, which combines independent clauses, and the complex sentence, which combines an independent clause with a dependent clause. Let’s look at another example, preferably one that has nothing to do with grammar itself.

Here are all the things I want to say:

I am hungry.

I could eat an elephant.

I’ll eat a muffin instead.

Rather than using three simple sentences, I can combine all three thoughts into one compound-complex sentence:

I am so hungry that I could eat an elephant, but I’ll eat a muffin instead.

The two independent clauses have been joined by a conjunction (in this case, the subordinating conjunction that), and the dependent clause has been joined to the two independent clauses using another conjunction (but).

Here is another example:

I dislike mornings.

It’s very early to be at work.

I’m excited to go back to bed.

These simple sentences can be combined as follows:

I’m excited to go back to bed, as it’s very early to be at work, and I dislike mornings.

Still Stumped?

If you’re still struggling to grasp the compound-complex sentence, why not give this sentence structure quiz a try? Not only does it cover the most complicated of the sentence types, but it also tests you on the other three types. By the time you’re done, you’ll be identifying sentence structure types faster than I can express a desire for baked goods. And let me tell you, that’s pretty darn fast.

Image source: Luis Llerena/Stocksnap.io

Sentence Structure Ebook