Grammar and Mechanics

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In this section, you will learn about two kinds of words that are very useful in writing descriptions. They are adjectives and prepositions.

Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns. Adjectives tell what things (or people) look like, what kind they are, or how many of them there are. Adjectives answer the questions what kind? which one? and how many?

what kind? the ojd car with the broken window which one? the fourth chapter of the book how many? twelve students

Here are some things you should know about adjectives.

1. Adjectives always come in front of nouns, not after them.

three young Japanese high school students

2. Adjectives can also follow linking verbs.

be He is happy. smell That smells good, seem You seem sad. taste Candy tastes sweet, look She looks beautiful. feel Silk feels smooth.

3. Adjectives are always singular. Never add an -s to an adjective or use a plural word as an adjective.

a six-foot wall (not a six-feet wall)

a five-dollar bill (not a five-dollars bill)

a two-year-old child (not a two-years-old child)

4. Nouns can be adjectives.

the English book a shoe store some tennis balls the Japanese students

5. Adjectives referring to nationalities and languages are capitalized.

an ancient Egyptian custom my Spanish class the Cuban government

6. -ing and -ed words (past participles) can be adjectives.

a swimming suit my cooking class the sleeping baby the boring class the bored students a used car a broken heart the stolen money


Identifying Adjectives

Work with a partner or by yourself.

1. Circle all the adjectives in the following paragraph. (Some sentences may not have any adjectives.)

2. Then draw an arrow to the noun each adjective describes.

__ My First Car 'Mymrst^fcar was midland (ugly) but I loved it anyway 2The main paint color was black, but it also had blue, green, yellow, and white paint in different places. 3The body was in terrible condition. 4It had several big dents. sThe hood lock was broken, so I had to tie it down with a strong rope. 6 Also, the back bumper was rusty, and the front window was cracked. 7The inside of the car was also a disaster. ®The inside door handle on the passenger side was missing, so you couldn't open the passenger door from the inside. 9The seats had at least ten holes in them. l0Also, the gas gauge was broken. 1 'it always showed "full," so I often ran out of gas. l2The speedometer was broken too, so I never knew how fast I was driving. 13Like a first love, my old VW had a few faults, but to me it was perfect.

Prepositions Another important kind of word is the preposition. Prepositions are little words such as of, to, from, in, at, after, during, until. Some prepositions are two words (next to, because of, according to) or even three words [in front of). Most prepositions are one word, however. Here is a list of common

























according to




because of




in addition to




in back of




in front of




in place of




next to




out of

caution: Some words such as to are sometimes prepositions and sometimes another part of speech. Compare these two sentences.

a. We went to the supermarket.

b. We wanted to buy some fruit.

In sentence a, to is a preposition because it is followed by a noun phrase (the supermarket). In sentence b, the word to is part of the infinitive verb phrase to buy.

Prepositional A preposition is usually combined with a noun or noun phrase to make a Phrases prepositional phrase such as at home or at six o'clock.

Some prepositional phrases answer the question where. These are prepositional phrases of place:

at home on the desk next to the window under the bed along the wall in front of the house to the library opposite the door in my bedroom closet outside the garage between the two beds around the corner

Some prepositional phrases answer the question when. These are prepositional phrases of time:

after class in the morning in 1999 at midnight before a test on New Year's Day

Other prepositional phrases show possession:

(the father) of the bride (the colors) of the rainbow

(the name) of my boss (the president) of the company

Others describe or identify someone or something:

(the woman) with red hair (the man) in the dark blue suit

(the student) from Ecuador (the car) with the broken window practice

| Work with a partner.

Identifying ^. put parentheses () around all prepositional phrases in the following

Phrases paragraph. (One sentence has none.)

2. Underline the preposition in each phrase.

My Desk

'The inside (of my desk^ looks like a second-hand store. 2Each drawer is filled with junk. 3In the center drawer, you can find paper clips, erasers, pencils, pens, rubber bands, and small bottles of glue. 4I have a complete hardware store in my top drawer. 5If you want to fix something, you can find whatever you need there. 6In the second drawer from the top, I keep snacks in case I get hungry at night. 7Small items of clothing are in the third drawer from the top. 8The bottom drawer holds my collection of wind-up toys. 9I play with them during study-breaks. I0I have such a variety of things in my desk that, according to my friends, I could start a small business.

M/WiU^l Describing a Room i

Work by yourself. Then work with a partner to edit each other's paragraphs. Write a paragraph describing one of the pictures in the activity on pages 70-71.


Write the Topic Sentence

Begin your paragraph with a sentence that names the place and tells what kind of person lives or works there. For example, your first sentence for the picture of the workshop might be one of these:

This is the workshop of a very neat person. This garage belongs to a well-organized person.


Write Specific Details

Next, write several specific details that describe the place. Suppose you had decided that the first picture is the room of a messy teenage boy. Write sentences that describe the mess. Use adjectives in your description.


Write the Ending

If you wish, end your paragraph with a sentence that tells your feeling or opinion about the place. For example, you could write:

I would make the owner of this room clean it up!

The owner of this garage is probably a very good handyman.

STEP 4: Then edit your paragraph with a partner. Directions for editing are on

Edit the First Draft pages 16-17. Use the Paragraph Checklist.



Check the paragraph form. (Does the paragraph look like the model on page 4?)


Does the paragraph begin with a topic sentence? Q Q Does the paragraph have specific details? r H Are the specific details in space order?


Check for capital letters. | Q Check the spelling.

Check the commas.

Is there a period at the end of all the sentences? SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Q [j Check the sentences. Do they have at least one subject and one verb, and do they express a complete thought?

Does the paragraph contain both simple and compound sentences?

Q Q Check for comma splices.

STEP 5: Write a neat final draft to hand in to your teacher.

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