BIG 4 Clusters of Commonly Confused Words (CCW)

Commonly confused words, or homonyms, are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings.  The Big 4 Clusters of CCWs refer to the four sets of the most commonly misspelled homonyms. These word clusters reached this status because they’re such commonly used words. See, I just used one!

But seriously, let’s classify these words according to their function instead of the more typical, “they’re, their, there, etc.” style. Maybe that will make their spelling easier to rememberAssignment: Write twelve sentences using each of these words in its own sentence.

CONTRACTIONS

1. it’s = it is (3rd sing.)

    It’s sunny today.          

 

 

2.  they’re = they are (3rd pl.)

     They’re at the brown brick house.

     Walt and Gloria are at the brown brick house.              

3.  you’re = (2nd  ) you are

    You’re a good cook. You’re good cooks.

 

  • Note that all three of these contractions use “is” or “are” with a subject pronoun.
  • I have used two sentences on #2 to show how a pronoun (they) substitutes for third-person subject nouns.
  • “You’re” is the same word for singular and plural, just as “you” refers to one or more people and can be the subject or object of the sentence.
  •  “You all/y’all” in the South and “You guys” in the North appear to be slang efforts to deal with the lack of two separate words for the second person singular and plural.

POSSESSIVE

4.  its (3rd sing.)

     The house needs its sink fixed.  

It is rare for something without a gender to have or own something.

 

5.  their (3rd pl.)

      Their house is near the park.

      Ray and Dorothy’s house is near the park.

6. your (2nd)

 I like your

   website(s).

 

 

 

      • Notice that none of these possessive pronouns use apostrophes—unlike a noun(s) functioning as a possessive adjective would require an apostrophe. For example: “Danny’s screwdriver” could be referred to as “his screwdriver” if somebody else was talking about it.
      • The odd reality about #4 “its” is noted in the box.
      • I have used two sentences in #5 to show how a pronoun (their) functioning-as-an-adjective substitutes for third person possessive nouns, which in this case serves as the subject of the sentence.
      • “Your” is the same word for singular and plural.  

ONE SPELLING, TWO MEANINGS 

  homonym Definition/description Example
7. to preposition before a noun or pronoun meaning “towards” She went to the cafeteria.
8. to When used before a verb; the word becomes an infinitive and can’t function as the main verb of the sentence. I love to sing with Spanish tapes while reading lyrics to improve my listening comprehension and have fun doing it.
9. too also (“tambien” in Spanish) I want some chips and hot sauce too.
10. too Over-doing or under-doing of what is desirable. (“demasiado” in Spanish). We put too much salt in that casserole. Is he considered too small to play linebacker in college?

 

ETC.

I don’t have a category for all of these words; here are the two left over from our Big 4 Commonly Confused Sets of Words.

 

11.  there = refers to direction or location.

      There is a red truck coming down the street.                                                   

12. two = 2.

I kept two kittens from the first litter.             

 

 

                        MOST CONFUSING OF THE BIG 4 CCW’S

“It’s” and “its” receive my vote for the most frequently confused pair or set of words in this category; this seems to be a unanimous decision. Even books and website entries may show this error, a lack of editing.

Furthermore, animals that you don’t know are referred to by “its” For example, “The jaguar hurt its paw.”

On the other hand, you should refer to animals that you know personally by their gender—not “it” or “its.” Obviously this applies to house pets, a favorite farm animal, and even more creatures if you’re a zoo employee or in a related profession. For example, “Fluffy is friendly to all visitors. Also, when she lived with a previous owner, Fluffy used to visit a neighborhood-gathering spot frequently and gained much respect for her rat-catching ability.”

 

http://www.edhelper.com/language/language_samples113.html  EdHelper provides “List of Homonyms” 252 groups of words. You’ll need to provide the meaning for the words.

Final Exam for Developmental English/Writing, by Mr. J.D. Meyer: Spring 2005… Edited by Mentor, Lew Sayers

8 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement: Circle the correct answer

1. Present Tense Verbs
a. The penguin squawks at the bulldogs.
b. The dogs barks at the penguins.

2. Words/Phrases between Subject and Verb
a. Some students who quit coming to class need to be ignored
and not tracked down by me.
b. That instructor with the Acura and the Mustang have a second job

3. Subject after the Verb
a. There are too many students “chillin” in their rooms.
b. Where is the keys of the reading instructor?

4. Compound Subjects
a. LaTonya and Adelia are on the honor roll.
b. Barnes and Noble have a bookstore in south Tyler.

5. Indefinite Pronouns
a. Everyone were watching the basketball playoffs in the dorm.
b. Almost everyone eats rice daily in China.

6. Agreement with Nearest Subject when Joined by “or.”
a. Either the cats or the dog attack unwanted, rude visitors on my command.
b. Either asphalt shingles or metal is used for roof construction in East Texas.

7. Collective Nouns
a. Our team has a new coach.
b. The squadron have certified airplane mechanics for maintenance.

8. Special Cases
a. Her glasses need adjusting immediately.
b. My black trousers has a tear on the side.

COMMA RULES
1 Between Items in a Series: Single and Multiple items.
2 Between Compound Sentence
3 After an Intro. Word, Phrase, or Clause
4 Two Commas around Interrupters.
5 To Separate Quotes from a Sentence
6 Before a Non-Essential Phrase
7 To Prevent Confusion

Comma Exercise: Just list the rule used, and each rule is used once. I provided the commas this time.

9. We went to the zoo and saw cheetahs, elephants, and quetzals
10. Joe asked, “Have you finished writing the final yet?”
11. Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys, two teams who’ve struggled lately, have new head football coaches
12. She wants to go to the biker club, but he wants to watch interior decorating shows.
13. Where is the cat, Willie?
14. The student is borrowing my stapler, which is purple and very modern-looking
15. After I finish writing this test, I’m going to work on my wonderful website.

Paragraphs: Match the synonyms; write your answer in the middle column. The answer is the letter next to the definition.

16. Unity……………… a. Relevance
17. Support……………. b. Sufficient
18. Coherence……………c. General statement giving the essay’s structure
19. Sentence Skills ……..d. General statement about a paragraph.
20. Topic Sentence……….e. Clear links between ideas
21. Thesis Statement……..f. Grammar

Irregular Verbs: Is the underlined word(s) used correctly? True or False

22. He drank too much Dr. Pepper after payday.
23. I have wrote my essay.
24. Where have the students hidden from me today?
25. He driven to his favorite place in the country.
26. Somebody stolen some tests, so I changed the order of the answers—ha, ha!!!
27. Have you did your essays?
28. They wrote a three-paragraph essay and flunked.

Run-Ons and Fragments: Match the Definition to the Term.

29. Comma splice…………A…….A run-on when only a comma is used …………………………………. instead of end punctuation or a comma …………………………………..and coordinating conjunction
30. Fused Sentence……… B…… A fragment with a subject and verb that ………………………………….is an incomplete thought without an ………………………………….independent clause because it starts ………………………………….with a subordinator.
31. Added Detail Fragment…C……. A run-on in which two or more
…………………………….sentences are stuck together with no
…………………………….punctuation.
32. -“Ing” or “to” + Fragment… D…A fragment that could have been a
…………………………….non-essential phrase at the end of the
…………………………….sentence, often a “grocery list” of ……………………………………items without a subject or verb.
33. Dependent Word Fragment…. E……A fragment without a main verb.
……………………………..Instead there is just a gerund or …………………………………….infinitive.

Quotation Marks: Circle the right answer.

34. What is my “southwest to northeast” rule of quotation marks?
a. It’s a blatant take-off of a Cary Grant movie.
b. These directions mean that the comma goes after the quotation marks at all times
c. The comma goes in the southwest, and the quotation marks go in the northeast. Or the period goes in the southwest, and the quotation marks go in the northeast.

35. Which is a paraphrased statement?
a. Mother said, “You sure look pretty today.”
b. Mother said that I sure look pretty today.

Which types of words need an apostrophe? True or False. Clue: Three are true.

36. Plural nouns: The cat’s have a bowl.
37. Singular nouns showing possession: The comma chapter thrilled Mr. Mason’s classes.
38. Contractions: It’s very humid today.
39. Singular pronouns that show possession: It’s roof needs to be fixed.
40. 3rd Person Singular Verbs: Ricky run’s pass patterns
41. Plural nouns showing possession: The puppies’ owner wants to give them away.

Writing: Prewriting, Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Conclusions

42. What is something we see in introductions that we don’t see in conclusions?
a. attention-grabber and thesis statement.
b. categories for the essay topic
c. recommendations.

43. What is something we see in conclusions that we don’t see in introductions?
a. attention-grabber and thesis statement
b. categories for the essay topic.
c. recommendations.

44. When is prewriting most important?
a. when you have lots of time for an essay or report.
b. when you are uncertain about your choice of topic or find a topic difficult.
c. if it’s for extra credit.

45. An attention grabber is mainly___________ while a recommendation is chiefly________
a. persuasive…………..entertaining
b. entertaining…………persuasive
c. informative………….entertaining
d. entertaining…………informative

Match the part of speech with the examples
Part of Speech Examples
46. a, an, the…………………… . a adverbial conjunctions
47. at, beside, from, of………………..b articles
48. “FABSONY” like—and, but, so, or…….c subordinators
49. if, until, while, though…………….d prepositions
50. furthermore, however, indeed…………e coordinating conjunctions

Answer Key for Developmental English/Writing Final, by J.D. Meyer

8 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement
1. a…………………. 5. b
2. a……………………6. b
3. a……………………7. a
4. a……………………8. a

7 Comma Rules
9. 1………………….13. 7
10. 5………………… 14. 6
11. 4………………….15. 3
12. 2

Paragraphs
16. a………………..19. f
17. b………………..20. d
18. e ……………….21. c

Irregular Verbs
22. T………………….26. F
23. F………………….27. F
24. T………………….28. T
25. F

Run-Ons & Fragments: Match the Definition to the Term
29. A………………..32. E
30. C………………..33. B
31. D

Quotation Marks
34. c…………………35. b

Which types of words need an apostrophe?
36. F………………….39. F
37. T………………….40. F
38. T………………….41. T

Prewriting, Introductions, Thesis Statements, & Conclusions

42. a…………….. 44. b
43. c…………….. 45. b

Match the part of speech with the examples

46. b…………….. 49. c
47. d…………….. 50. a
48. e

SOL 17: Publicizing my Developmental English/ Writing textbook through Open Source on Academia.edu, by JD Meyer

In response to “What summer writing are you doing now that will inspire your future students?”

I wrote, copyrighted, and illustrated a Developmental English/Writing textbook for my students. I taught this course for ten of the years from 1994-2006 with my textbook for seven of those years as the primary textbook.

For many years, I’ve published some chapter sections as free samples to interest publishers in my textbook and gain fans along the way. I have a website at Academia.edu https://independent.academia.edu/JDMeyer I used to have a Pageout website at McGraw-Hill before it was discontinued. A few of my chapter sections are at Open Stax of Rice University, formerly known as Connexions. My Subject-Verb Agreement Module is one of the top articles for both Academia.edu & Open Stax.
However, I’m on SSDI for asthma & COPD–not to mention other issues that were revealed later when I got on Medicare, Medicaid, and Cigna Health Springs. If I make more than an extra $120/month, I’ll lose some life-saving medicine and no telling what else. A big money August could really mess me up!

Then I learned of the Paul Quinn College turnaround success story. This HBCU in the SE Oak Cliff was in severe danger of closing until PQC got a new president, Dr. Michael Sorrell. Dr. Sorrell’s major reforms were to build the “We Over Me” Farm in the former football stadium, and have students do some of their work-study there to ease the cost of a private college. Furthermore, he required instructors to use free Open Source materials for textbooks. My textbook may have been cheaper than the rest, but it wasn’t free.

Recently, I added “The Four Persuasive Strategies for English/Writing,” “Promo-Pack for Descriptive Essay Section,” “Subjects, Verbs, & Other Parts of Speech with Prepositions Chart (89),” and “College Retention: Vocational Counseling & Publicizing Psychological Type Theory– The Personality-Vocation Match” to my Academia.edu site.

My motivation to add these chapter sections and essay was based primarily on two factors: commitment to the Open Source paradigm advanced by Dr. Michael Sorrell and finding out that a young cashier at the nearby Family Dollar is trying to get a GED. I almost did cartwheels when long-time Internet honcho-friend, Angela Maiers, like my Four Persuasive Strategies chapter section. She’s the originator of the You Matter paradigm.

To conclude, teachers don’t always go away after retirement if they keep writing and interacting with others—especially if the writing includes a textbook in a critical need area.

SOL 15: Two Funny Ways to Teach Beginning Grammar, 3-26-15

How about hearing a couple of funny ways I taught beginning English grammar? The vast majority of our L-Squared audience isn’t retired, so I’m going to share some memories this morning.

A great man once wrote that if the students can identify prepositional phrases, then they’re more likely to find the subject and not make subject-verb agreement errors. I bet it was John Langan. The typical basic sentence structure in English is Subject-Verb-Object.

Prepositions are usually about space. Here’s a way to illustrate the relationship, “The teacher threw the eraser over the students’ heads.” Yes, I really threw it! Moreover, most prepositions start with the letters “a,” “b,” “o,” “u,” or “t.” I pointed out that feature on my handout or in the textbook too. It’s good to do something funny in the first week of the semester to build the teacher-student relationship.

Here’s another funny antic. Fragments are incomplete statements while a sentence has a subject, verb, and expresses a complete thought. However, “I type,” is a sentence, for it expresses a complete thought and an object isn’t required. “Drives to the basket after a fake in the opposite direction,” is a fragment because there’s no subject. One could change “drives” to “drive” and have an imperative order-giving (coaching?) statement because “you understood” would be the subject. Certainly adding a subject pronoun (he/she) or someone’s name to the start of the sentence would make a good sentence as well. Yes, I actually demonstrated  that favorite basketball move!

Furthermore, teachers who move around the classroom have better class control. Appearing stuck behind the desk may make one look stiff or scared.  Obviously walking up  to a loud student’s desk is a far more common tactic. Normally this is an issue for younger grades, but a remedial English class isn’t exempt from junior high style disruption by the students. By the way, I also substitute taught in all grades: PK through 12 as well as teaching college level Developmental English and Adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

I hope the Slice of Life audience found these two stunts amusing and will consider doing them some day. Maybe you could do them for review because we’ve passed the mid-point of the semester!

Sustainability in Composition: The Qualities of Critics, According to Marcus Berger & Textbook Engagement and Humor

Sustainability in composition answers the six qualities of critics, according to Crisis in Criticism by Marcus Berger; (1) curiosity, (2) attentiveness, (3) concern, (4) vision, (5) art and language, and (6) debate a critic makes available. The last quality caught my attention first, for sustainability in composition allows a student to report on his/her neighborhood without fear of attack for being too regional, multicultural, or liking contemporary music too much. An instructor should model curiosity, attentiveness, and concern—the first three qualities of Berger’s good critic—by allowing a wide range of model essays. Before long, our instructor’s edited student essays will be able to complement his/her own model essays and inspire the students. Finally, art and language (#5) can happen in an essay when students get to write about topics, such as their favorite music genre or art form.

Now let’s examine textbook engagement as another issue of sustainability in composition. Earlier this year at a local downtown arts event, I read a selection of largely amusing model sentences from my Developmental English/Writing textbook, together with their particular category.

Let’s look at three examples. Here’s a way to joke about the generation gap while providing instruction in commonly confused words, “I can’t understand why so many young people wear (lose/loose) jeans and why flared jeans and bell-bottoms haven’t made a comeback.” Early in the semester, I demonstrate how prepositions are often about space and begin with the letters, “a,b,o,u, or t” (another preposition)with this sentence, “The teacher threw an eraser over the students’ heads.” This is an account of rare physical humor in a classroom. I illustrated the use of a dash to prevent an added-detail fragment while saluting Whitney Houston and admitting to hording cats with the following statement, ” He has found the greatest joy of all–to have a pack of red cats.”

Later I realized that such model sentences add to textbook engagement for students, and that can be another aspect of sustainability in composition. According to Berger’s Six Qualities of Critics, I believe it shows #2 attentiveness, #3 concern, and #5 art and language. Textbooks have been criticized largely for their rocketing expense and frequently trivial revisions, but lack of engagement is a problem too. Who wants to read an expensive, boring textbook if you can get away with it? Hopefully, these practices show #4 vision, but I would be afraid to claim that for myself.

This addendum will be linked to my http://independent.academia.edu/JDMeyer article, “College Composition Topics: Give Regional a Chance.”