Use these tips to improve your writing!
Parts of Speech
Sometimes, people divide a sentence into three parts: subject, verb, object. Here is another way to explain that concept: doer, doing, done to. “The cat jumped onto the chair.” Doer = cat Doing = jumped Done to = the chair Remember these three parts when you study tricky verbs.
Lie = something living creatures and nonliving things can do; e.g. A dog can lie down. A rug can be lying on the floor. I have lain down on the floor. (Notice that the past participle of ‘lie’ is ‘lain’.) Trick: only the ‘doer’ can lie.
Lay = something a living creature does to creatures or nonliving things; e.g. I can lay a book down. You can lay a baby in a crib. I have laid my burden down. (Notice that the past participle of ‘lay’ is ‘laid’.) Trick: only the ‘done to’ can be laid.
Sit = something living creatures and nonliving things can do; e.g. I can can sit. Tables can sit on the floor. Trick: only the ‘doer’ can sit.
Set = something a living creature does to creatures or things; e.g. The cat can set the toy down on the floor. You can set the table. Trick: only the ‘done to’ can be set.
Rise = something living creatures and nonliving things can do; e.g. The sun can rise. A smell can rise. My hopes can rise. Trick: only the ‘doer’ can rise.
Raise = something a living creature does to creatures or things; e.g. I can raise my arm. Protesters can raise a stink. Dogs can raise a howl. We can raise our grades if we work hard. Trick: only the ‘done to’ can be raised.
Singular versus Plural
Note that all these are singular subjects: anybody, anyone, club, each, either, everyone, herd, neither, none, one, school, somebody, someone, team (Hint: the article ‘a’ or ‘an’ indicates a singular noun is coming.)
All these are plural subjects: all, both, she and I, we
Singular subjects generally get verbs ending in ‘s’. E.g. Everyone sits. None of the cookies was eaten. Each student completes the assignment. None of the books is worth reading. Either Sam or Robin sings.
Plural subjects generally do not. E.g. All of us will sit. Three of the cookie were eaten. Six students complete the assignment. All of the books are worth reading. Both Sam and Robin sing.
Sometimes ‘past’ and ‘past participle’ use the same form of the word:
1. ‘jumped’ and ‘have jumped’
2. ‘walked’ and ‘have walked’
Sometimes, though, ‘past’ and ‘past participle’ are different:
1. ‘chose’ and ‘have chosen’
2. ‘grew’ and ‘have grown’
3. ‘spoke’ and ‘have spoken’
4. ‘swam’ and ‘have swum’
5. ‘took’ and ‘have taken’
6. ‘rose’ and ‘have risen’
7. ‘drank’ and ‘have drunk’
8. ‘did’ and ‘have done’
9. ‘saw’ and ‘have seen’
10. ‘sang’ and ‘have sung’
Sometimes there is a pattern with past tense:
1. ‘ed’ ending: walked, jumped, listened, smiled, laughed
2. ‘a’ in the middle: ran, sang, gave, swam, sprang, sang, drank, came
3. ‘o’ in the middle: brought, rode, shook, wore, wrote, chose, spoke, stole, tore, wove
Sometimes there is a pattern with past participles:
1. ‘n’ is at the end: ‘have grown’, ‘have risen’, ‘have seen’, ‘have shaken’, ‘have worn’, ‘have blown’
2. ‘u’ is in the middle: ‘have sprung’, ‘have rung’, ‘have drunk’, ‘have spun’, ‘have swum’, ‘have swung’
Read some great picture books illustrating grammar concepts:
Brown, Don. Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. [Third person point of view in present tense]
Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008. [First person point of view in present tense]
[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2012 Sophie Rosen.]