Long ago, in a school system far away, I learned the basic building blocks of language. I sat at my desk like an obedient sponge and listened to every word my teacher said. Grammar lessons began, painlessly enough, with the parts of speech.
Nouns seemed harmless, a person, place, or thing, but soon tricked us and became plural and proper. Verbs were fun. They supplied action but got sneaky, changing form and tense. Then the elements became more complicated.
Adjectives and Adverbs both modify nouns. My elementary brain wondered why there weren’t enough jobs in Grammar World to go around and not make them share one. Pronouns could replace nouns, and prepositions show the relationship between a noun and other words. There’s even a song to help us remember them and a rule to stop us from using them at the end of a sentence. Of course, this rule is meant for people speaking Latin, not English, but we follow it anyway. Confused yet?
Punctuation appeared like a simple concept, but not for all. Commas are a perfect example. Some never use them and cause pages of run-on sentences. Then some place commas between every other word, like dropping bread crumbs to help them find their way to the end of a thought. Don’t get me started on exclamation points. Am I only allowed five per novel? Ridiculous!
As we continue in school, grammar lessons intensify along with our hormones. We are introduced to Determiners and Qualifiers, which sound like villains we should run from. Our most essential questions in life are, ‘What should I do about a dangling participle?’ and ‘How will I get into a good college if I can’t diagram a sentence?’
Time has past and life is more sedate now. In writing my latest novel, You’re My Favorite, I realized that our vocabulary never gets the attention it deserves with all the emphasis on grammar. It prompted me to give my protagonist, DELANEY SHEA, a unique character trait.
Delaney, a bestselling author, received a critique from a college professor early in her career, saying she possessed superior writing skills but an elementary vocabulary. Because of this, Delaney subscribes to the Word For the Day app on her cell phone. She methodically uses the word that appears on her phone, in a sentence before the end of each day.
To the annoyance of my family and friends, I have done the same for years. It not only helps to build my vocabulary but satisfies my fascination for new words. I’m not a total nerd. I’m also fascinated by wine, chocolate, coffee, and hockey.
Try it. It’s free, good for your brain, and if you ever appear on Jeopardy, it may help you with a vocabulary daily-double. In case you were wondering, in all the years since elementary school, I’ve been asked many questions, but never to diagram a sentence.
Have a question or a comment? Let me know.