Misused Words: Beside and Besides

What a differences a little suffix makes, huh? 🙂 Today I have an easy and mini tip for you.

Misused Words: Beside and Besides

Beside (without the s) means next to something or on the side of something.

For example: The pencil is beside the book on the kitchen table.

For example: Sit here beside me.

Besides (with the s) in addition to something.

For example: Mary has many more journals besides this one.

For example: Besides the main presenter, we listened to three other authors at the writer’s conference.

That’s it. The hardest part is just remembering which is which. 🙂

Next Steps

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Grammar Basics: The Sentence Fragment

Over the last few weeks, we spent a lot of time on sentences. We went over the simple sentence, the compound sentence and, the complex sentence, and finally, the compound-complex sentence. Now it is time to conquer sentence fragments.

Grammar Basics: The Sentence Fragment

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

What is a Sentence Fragment?

As you now know, a sentence is a group of words that are brought together into a complete thought. Additionally, in order to be a complete thought, a sentence must have at least a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb).

A sentence fragment, on the other hand, is a set of words brought together but is not a complete thought. It is usually missing either a subject or predicate.

There are several types of sentence fragments. A dependent clause (subordinate clause), which was discussed when you learned about complex sentences, is a type of sentence fragment. Other types of sentence fragments include, verbal phrases, participle phrases, appositives, and infinitive phrases. For simplicity’s sake, I will save the definition of each type and how they fit into sentences (or become fragments) for future posts.

A Couple of Examples

Sentence: Although took a long time, I finally finished the book.

Sentence: I finally finished the book.

Fragment: Although it took a long time.

Although it took a long time, but I finally finished the book” contains an independent clause and a dependent clause, along with a subject [I] and predicate [finished], making it a complete thought. “I finally finished the book” is an independent clause with a subject and predicate, thus, it is also a complete thought. “Although took a long time” does not contain a subject and predicate (although it does contain a pronoun and verb), nor does it express a complete thought. It is a fragment.

Sentence: A woman at the library checked out 50 books.

Fragment: A woman at the library.

Fragment: Checked out 50 books.

The woman at the library checked out 50 books” is an independent clause, contains a subject [woman] and a predicate [checked out], and expresses a complete thought, making it a sentence. “A woman at the library” is not an independent clause. It contains two nouns but no predicate or any verb at all. Also, it does not express a complete thought, therefore, it is a fragment. “Checked out 50 books” is also a fragment because it does not express a complete thought, nor does it include a main subject or predicate so it is not an independent clause. [“Checked out 50 books” is an example of a verbal phrase.]

The Trick

When in doubt, always look for the subject (main noun) and predicate (main verb). A complete sentence MUST always have at least one of each.

Also, ask yourself, “Does this express a complete thought?”

If a sentence makes sense, and contains a main subject and verb, there is a good chance that it is a sentence and not a fragment.

TO FIX A FRAGMENT: You need to attach the fragment to an independent clause, such as with subordinate clauses, or you need to somehow interject a subject and/or predicate into the phrase, either before or after. Or, you can rewrite the sentence altogether.

Next Steps

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The Lost Art of Letter-writing

Oh, my. I came across this TED video yesterday and as soon as I watched it, I knew I had to share it with you.

This short video made my cry. You see, in this video, Lakshmi Pratury talks about the letters her father for her before he passed away. Besides my compassion for her loss, her words touched me because they brought back some memories.

As someone who loves to write (no surprise there!), I used to write a lot of letters. Of course, those were the days before email, instant messages, and Twitter. In particular, I would write to one of my cousins almost weekly and I looked forward to her response. Then, when I spent time discerning a religious vocation (that may be a surprise to you!), I wrote my parents and family once a month and my friends a little less frequently. I tell you, I cherished the letters I received from my mom! They somehow got lost over the years, but I wish so much that I still had them. (Even today, I still insist on sending physical Christmas cards!)

This video reminds me that the need for the physical is important. Emails and the digital world is great (and I will never give them up), but there is something special getting a letter that someone took the time to write, fold and send through the snail mail. It sure beats bills and adverts!

Lakshmi Pratury wants to start an old fashioned letter-writing revolution. She plans to write for her son, and I think it is a great idea. So, I’m in. How about you? You in?