# Sách A Grammar for Reading and Writing

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## Sách A Grammar for Reading and Writing

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The topics covered here describe the "meaningful chunks" of English sentence structure. In so doing they examine key grammatical principles underlying effective reading and writing. When discussing speech, we say we know something when we can...

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1. z  A Grammar for Reading and Writing
4. Finally, consider the following three sentences: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry. At first glance, the three sentences seem to have the same structure. 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry. As we try to find meaning in the sentences, however, we discover that their structure is different: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry. how we break a sentence up. Punctuation often helps in this effort, but punctuation marks only certain boundaries. There is the story of the English teacher who wrote the following words on the board and asked the students to punctuate the sentence: Woman without her man is nothing. Students came away with different meanings, depending on how they grouped the words. (Reach an understanding of the sentence yourself, then see the footnote for the results.) (1) Slots, Constructions, and Meaning Once we recognize that we actually read chunks, we might then ask: · How do we recognize chunks? What do they look like? And that leads to two other questions: · Where in a sentence do these chunks normally fall, and · What meaning can we attach to a particular chunks that is, to a particular grammatical construction occurring in a particular position in a sentence? Complete Reference: The Noun Phrase looks at the most common construction in English sentences. Other sections identify particular positions or slots within a
5. sentence and the meaning attached to the various constructions appearing in those positions. (1) Some read the words as: Woman, without her man, is nothing. Others read the same words as: Woman! Without her, man is nothing. We find, to a great extent, what we want to find! Complete Reference: The Noun Phrase Full References The discussion of the choice of language noted that a single concept is often signaled by a variety of words, each word possessing slightly different connotations. We can indicate that people are less than content by saying they are angry , irate , incensed , perturbed , upset , furious , or mad. The broader our vocabulary, the greater our options and the more precisely we can convey our meaning. And yet no matter how wide our vocabulary may be, a single word is often insufficient. A single word, by itself, can appear somewhat vague, no matter how specific that word might seem. The term dog’ may be specific compared to mammal,’ but it is general compared to collie.’ And collie’ is general compared to Lassie.’ Then again, many different dogs played Lassie! Suppose you want to indicate a female person across the room. If you don’t know her name, what do you say? That girl. If there were more than one, this alone would be too general. It lacks specificity. The girl in the blue Hawaiian shirt x The taller of the two cheerleaders by the water cooler When a single term will not supply the reference we need, we add terms to focus or limit a more general term. Instead of referring to drugs in a discussion, we might refer to hallucinogenic drugs. We might distinguish between hard drugs and prescription drugs . In so doing we modify the notion of a drug to describe the specific one, or ones, we have in mind. (Then again, at times we are forced to use many words when we cannot recall the one that will really do, as when we refer to that funny device doctors pump up on your arm to measure blood pressure instead of a sphygmomanometer ). This section examines how we construct full and specific references using noun phrases. An ability to recognize complete noun phrases is essential to reading ideas rather than words. A knowledge of the various possibilities for constructing extended noun pharses is essential for crafting precide and specific references. Nouns To begin our discussion, we must first establish the notion of a noun.
6. English teachers commonly identify nouns by their content. They describe nouns as words that "identify people, places, or things," as well as feelings or ideas—words like salesman , farm , balcony , bicycle , and trust. If you can usually put the word a or the before a word, it’s a noun. If you can make the word plural or singular, it's a noun. But don't worry...all that is needed at the moment is a sense of what a noun might be. Noun Pre-Modifiers What if a single noun isn't specific enough for our purposes? How then do we modify a noun to construct a more specific reference? English places modifiers before a noun. Here we indicate the noun that is at the center of a noun phrase by an asterisk (*) and modifiers by arrows pointed toward the noun they modify. white house * large man * Modification is a somewhat technical term in linguistics. It does not mean to change something, as when we "modify" a car or dress. To modify means to limit, restrict, characterize, or otherwise focus meaning. We use this meaning throughout the discussion here. Modifiers before the noun are called pre-modifiers. All of the pre-modifiers that are present and the noun together form a noun phrase . NOUN PHRASE pre-modifiers noun * By contrast, languages such as Spanish and French place modifiers after the noun casa blanca white house * homme grand big man * The most common pre-modifiers are adjectives, such as red , long , hot . Other types of words often play this same role. Not only articles the water *
7. but also verbs running water * and possessive pronouns her thoughts * Premodifiers limit the reference in a wide variety of ways. Order: second, last Location: kitchen, westerly Source or Origin: Canadian Color: red, dark Smell: acrid, scented Material: metal, oak Size: large, 5-inch Weight: heavy Luster: shiny, dull A number of pre-modifiers must appear first if they appear at all. Specification: a, the, every Designation: this, that, those, these Ownership/Possessive: my, our, your, its, their, Mary’s Number: one, many These words typically signal the beginning of a noun phrase. Some noun phrases are short: the table  * Some are long: the second shiny red Swedish touring sedan
8. * a large smelly red Irish setter * my carved green Venetian glass salad bowl * the three old Democratic legislators * Notice that each construction would function as a single unit within a sentence. (We offer a test for this below,) The noun phrase is the most common unit in English sentences. That prevalence can be seen in the following excerpt from an example from the section on the choice of language: The stock market’s summer swoon turned into a dramatic rout Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged. The stock market’s summer swoon turned into a dramatic rout * * Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged. * * To appreciate the rich possibilities of pre-modifiers, you have only to see how much you can expand a premodifier in a noun phrase: the book the history book the American history book the illustrated American history book the recent illustrated American history book the recent controversial illustrated American history book the recent controversial illustrated leather bound American history book Noun Post-Modifiers We were all taught about pre -modifiers: adjectives appearing before a noun in school. Teachers rarely speak as much about adding words after the initial reference. Just as we find pre -modifiers, we also find post -modifiers— modifiers coming after a noun. The most common post-modifier is prepositional phrases: the book on the table *
9. civil conflict in Africa * the Senate of the United States * Post-modifiers can be short a dream * or long, as in Martin Luther King Jr.’s reference to a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves * and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. What does King have? A dream? No. He has a specific dream. Once we are sensitive to the existence of noun phrases, we recognize a relatively simple structure to the sentence. Here we recognize a noun phrase with a very long post-modifier—thirty-two words to be exact. We do not get lost in the flow of words, but recognize structure. At the point that we recognize structure within the sentence, we recognize meaning. (Notice also that post-modifiers often include clauses which themselves include complete sentences, as in the last example above.) Post-modifiers commonly answer the traditional news reporting questions of who , what , where , when , how , or why . Noun post-modifiers commonly take the following forms: prepositional phrase the dog in the store * _ing phrase the girl running to the store * _ed past tense the man wanted by the police *
10. wh - clauses the house where I was born * that/which clauses the thought that I had yesterday * If you see a preposition, wh - word ( which, who, when where ), -ing verb form, or that or which after a noun, you can suspect a post-modifier and the completion of a noun phrase. The noun together with all pre- and post-modifiers constitutes a single unit, a noun phrase that indicates the complete reference. Any agreement in terms of singular/plural is with the noun at the center. The boys on top of the house are ............. * Here the noun at the center of the noun phrase is plural, so a plural form of the verb is called for (not a singular form to agree with the singular house) . The Pronoun Test In school, we were taught that pronouns replaced nouns . Not so. Pronouns replace complete noun phrases . Pronoun replacement thus offers a test of a complete noun phrase. Consider: The boy ate the apple in the pie. What did he eat? The boy ate the apple in the pie. * Want proof? Introduce the pronoun it’ into the sentence. If a pronoun truly replaces a noun, we’d get *The boy ate the it in the pie. No native speaker would say that! They’d say The boy ate it. The pronoun replaces the complete noun phrase, the apple in the pie . Boxes Within Boxes: Testing for a Complete Noun Phrase The goal of reading, we noted above, is not to recognize grammatical features, but to find meaning. The goal is not to break a sentence or part of a sentence into as small pieces as possible, but to break it into chunks in such a way that fosters the discovery of meaning.
11. Consider one of the examples above of a prepositional phrase as a post-modifier: the book on the table Book is a noun at the center of the noun phrase. But table is also a noun. If we analyze the noun phrase completely, on all levels, we find: the book on the table * on the table  * We can have prepositional phrase within prepositional phrase within prepositional phrases: …the book on the table in the kitchen… * on the table in the kitchen… * in the kitchen … * We don't want to recognize every little noun phrase. We want to recognize the larger ones that shape the meaning. The book is not "on the table." The book is "on the table in the kitchen." The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State. Question: Who is in the Senate? a) two legislators b) two legislators from each State? The answer is b). The full Senate consists of two from each state (100 people), not simply two! We read the sentence as The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State. * If we read the sentence as
12. The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State. we miss the meaning. Earlier we noted that pre -modifiers in noun phrase can be expanded to significant length. For the most part, we increased the length of the pre-modifier by adding additional adjectives, a word or two at a time. Noun phrase post - modifiers can be expanded to much greater lengths. We can add long phrases which themselves contain complete sentences. the park where I hit a home run when I was in the ninth grade . * The sentence within the post-modifier is printed in boldface. The following sentence indicates something was lost. What was lost? He lost the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn. The answer is the complete phrase ……… the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn. The base term book is modified as to author (Mark Twain), topic (about the Mississippi), as well as intent or purpose (that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn.) We assume that he has another book by Twain about the Mississippi that he did not lose. Want proof? What would be replaced by it’? The full reference of a noun phrase is often conveniently’ ignored in movie advertisements. Janet Maslin, movie critic for The New York Times , complained when an advertisement for the video tape of John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" quoted her as describing the movie as director Francis Ford Coppola’s best and sharpest film,’ when, in fact, her review stated: John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" is Mr. Coppola’s best and sharpest film in years. (1) The original quotation does not refer to the best and sharpest film’ of Coppola’s career, but to his best and sharpest film in years.’ Noun Phrases: The Dominant Construction
14. Some claims are made for certain, some "in all probability" or "within a specific margin of error," some for given conditions. When drawing careful distinctions, authors are not being wishy-washy or nit picking. They are simply being precise. They are saying exactly what they want to say or feel secure in saying based on the available evidence. Weak writers can achieve an immediate gain in the level of thought of their writing by taking advantages of the opportunities for adding pre- and post-modifiers. For writers, this model is a reminder of the opportunity to extend, limit, or otherwise shape a specific idea. You can greatly increase the sophistication and depth of thought of your work by taking advantage of these pre- and post- modifier "slots". Having written a statement, you might go back in editing to see how you can further shape your thoughts by making use of these slots. The Constitution is the nation’s charter, and lawmakers should resist the temptation to push for amendments every time an election year rolls around. Notice how much richer the next sentence is (additional modifiers in bold face) . The Constitution of the United States is the nation’s bedrock charter, and devoted lawmakers sworn to uphold it should resist the dangerous temptation to push for pandering amendments every time an election year rolls around. (1) Janet Maslin, When Phrases That Flatter Are Misused,’ The New YorkTimes , Arts & Leisure section, August 23, 1998, p. 9. Sentence and Predicate Modifiers At times when reading, we come away with little, if any, understanding. We see the trees, but not the forest. We may miss the meaning for a number of reasons. We may not know the meaning of certain words or the concepts to which they refer. Even when we understand the words, we may come away with little understanding because the writing itself is particularly complex. In this latter instance, it is often helpful to apply grammatical analysis, to consciously attempt to break the sentence into meaningful units. A Model Of English Sentence Structure All English sentences follow the same basic formula. All speakers of the language are familiar with that formula, and yet this model is rarely if ever taught. (1) The discussion here lays that formula out. The discussion of noun phrases demonstrated the need to recognize grammatical constructions as complete units. There we were concerned with a single grammatical construction irrespective of where it appeared within a sentence.
15. This section looks more broadly at the sentence as a whole. It identifies various positions or slots within the sentence and discusses how constructions appearing within these slots shape the meaning of the sentence as a whole. In so doing, the discussion shows you how to make sense of complex sentences when you come across them in your reading, and how to construct them in your own writing. Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences Simple sentences contain a subject and predicate--a topic and a statement about that topic. More complicated sentences can be formed by stringing elements of a simple sentences together to make compound sentences or by adding other elements to make a complex sentence . These pages focuss on three ways of expanding a simple sentence into a complex sentence:  Sentence Modifiers  Predicate Modifers  Inserts For background discussion of simple and compound sentences, see Simple Sentences . Review: Sentence and Predicate Modifiers We read all sentences with a dual awareness of both meaning and structure. We break each sentence into meaningful chunks and figure out their grammatical relationships: Recall our three model sentences: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry. We can now see how we analyze these sentences differently to find meaning. Using the notation above, we now see the following structures: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. * 2. The boy ate the apple [ in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple { in a hurry } To understand each sentence, we must analyze the relationship of its parts. That process is made easier with a knowledge of and a feeling for the various possible relationships: here noun modifiers, sentence modifiers, and predicate modifiers. Remember the sentence He did not marry her because he loved her. The two meanings stem from two equally legitimate analyses. In the analysis He did not marry her [ because he loved her
16. they are not married. The phrase because he loved her is in the end sentence modifier slot that modifies the remainder of the sentence. We can test this by shifting the final construction from the end to the front slot. He did not marry her because he loved her Because he loved her , he did not marry her Note the addition here of the comma when the front slot is filled. In the analysis He did not marry her because he loved her they still might be married for other reasons. The phrase because he loved her is determined to be in the predicate modifier slot, indicating a reason for marrying. He did not marry her {because he loved her} Examples Other instances of grammatical ambiguity typically appear in headlines, as the following. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms We can now read this as a reference to a certain disease Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms * Female mushrooms have cancer! Or as an event Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms * Cancer in women is increasing—obviously the intended meaning!. Analyze the following yourself. · Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead · Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
17. · Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter · Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim · Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors · Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years Other examples can be found in "The Lower case" section of the Columbia Journalism Review : (5) : Thai Hospital Admits Starving Refugee Babies The Cambodia Daily , 2/26/98 Salad still good after 50 years Tribune-Star (Terra Haute, Ind.) 3/11/98 Transportation department to hold public meetings on I-49 The Times (Shreveport, La.) 3/19/98 MEDIA: Some Fear Coverage Reflects Judgment Los Angeles Times 1/29/98 Can you distinguish between ambiguity of word meaning and grammatical ambiguity? Implications For Reading What does the above analysis do for us? To find meaning in a sentence, we must break it into meaningful parts, and we must understand how those parts are related to each other. When we group words into larger constructions, we accomplish two goals. First. we reduce the complexity of the sentence as a whole into smaller, more manageable parts. In so doing, we group words to identify complete references. The meaning we come away with depends on how we break up (analyze) a sentence. The best strategy is to initially break the sentence into a few parts. Locate a basic simple sentence and identify how any remaining constructions are related to that basic simple sentence. The slot model offers a template for that effort. Earlier we recognized King's full dream. Within the construction defining that dream we can now recognize a time, a location, and an event: one day on the red hills of Georgia
18. the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. We find a complex sentence consisting of two front sentence modifiers followed by a simple sentence with a predicate modifier at the end one day ] on the red hills of Georgia ] the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together { at a table of brotherhood. Finally, consider the following sentence: When Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, a great chapter in American life came to a close and a greater chapter began. At first, this appears to be a long and complex sentence. When we draw on the notions reviewed above, however, we see that its structure is really simple. We have a front sentence modifier When Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ] a great chapter in American life came to a close and a greater chapter began. followed by a series of simple sentences a great chapter in American life came to a close and a great new chapter began To test this analysis, try shifting the modifier: A great chapter in American life came to a close, and a great new chapter began. [ when Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The large construction passes the test for a sentence modifier. While that large construction may be the most interesting piece of the sentence, it is not the most crucial to the meaning. The main idea of the sentence is about great chapter(s) beginning and ending. The large construction does not identify or describe those chapters; it only says when the shift came. Implications For Writing
19. The "slot" model of sentences developed above offers a template into which to fit constructions in the effort to make sense of sentences. The same model offers writers opportunities to qualifying references and ideas in terms of place, quality, time, purpose, type, extent, or conditions. Writing that does not make use of the sentence modifier, predicate modifier, and insert slots can be decidedly childlike in expression and simplistic in thought. (1) The discussion is based on Robert L. Allen, English Grammars and English Grammar , Scribner's, Scribner's, 1972. Out of print. (2) Letter to Editor, The New York Times , May 8, 1998 (Printed May 12, 1998), by Charlton Heston, NRA First Vice-President (3) William H. Dunlop, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times , Austin edition, June 10, 1998, p. A28. (4) Pete Hamill, Twenty Seven Words-The Bloody Problem of the Second Amendment , (Mightywords, 2000), www.mightywords.com, p. 4. (5) The examples from March/April and May/June 1998 issues. Sentence Modifiers The sentence modifier slot holds constructions that modify the remainder of the sentence, much as pre- and post-modifiers modify a central noun in a noun phrase. pre-modifier noun post-modifier ———  *  ———— SENTENCE MODIFIER ] subject + predicate [ SENTENCE MODIFIER We shall mark front and end sentence modifiers with the notion front modifier ] ................................ [ end modifier Recall the second model sentence from the set of three at the introduction to this section: 2. The boy ate the apple [ in the summer. Here the final phrase, in the summer , modifiers the earlier sentence as a whole. It indicates when the boy at the apple. What proof do we have that this last phrase really modifiers the remainder of the sentence as a whole? The proof lies in the fact that  the main portion can stand alone as a simple sentence, and The boy ate the apple.  the modifier portion of the sentence can be shifted between the front and back without essentially changing the meaning. (Emphasis may change slightly, and there is a stylistic convention of putting short sentence modifiers
20. first.) The boy ate the apple in the summer . In the summer The boy ate the apple. There are, in effect, front and end "slots" that can be filled with comments on the remainder of the sentence. You can, with little trouble imagine all sorts of comments that might be inserted into the sentence modifier slots at the front and end of the sentence. ________________ ] the boy ate the apple [ ________________ Note that in the test for a sentence modifier does not work with the other two of the three sample sentences: 1. * In the pie. the boy ate the apple. 3. * In a hurry the boy ate the apple. Here the sentences are clearly incorrect, or at least awkward. We will explain what is happening in the final model sentence in a moment. Grammatical Constructions Filling Sentence Modifier Slots Any slot in a sentence can be described in terms of the position of that slot, the constructions that can fill that slot, and the meaning imparted by construction within that slot. Sentence modifier slots can be filled by anything from a single word, Yesterday, to long phrases. Whenever it rains, … After the game was over and we had lost our third game... Because it would be senseless any other way... Content Sentence modifiers typically  qualify (in what way, under what conditions),  limit, or set conditions or circumstances (for whom, why, when, where), or  indicated reasons or conclusions. Punctuation Sentence modifiers generally take a comma when they appear at the front of a sentence and are more than a single word. No comma ever appears before a sentence modifier in the end position. SENTENCE MODIFIER ] , _______________________ [ SENTENCE MODIFIER The comma brackets off the front sentence modifier. Stylistically, shorter constructions appear early, and after a comma; longer one's appear at the end. Tactics and Strategies Some basic tactics and strategies for reading and writing should be apparent. You can make better sense of long and complicated sentence by attempting to recognize sentence