The Use and Abuse of Parts of Speech, or, Why Basics Are Important

Finished reading example sentences my classes made up for a current unit of vocabulary words today.  As usual, many of these sentences are complete nonsense. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’d say that more than 80% of them were just fine, and even though each class had done plenty of exercises with these words and researched published examples, I still have come to realize that awkward sentences like these are a natural part of the learning process.  They’ll be revised next week, with guided practice. 

By far the biggest thing that strikes me about these, though, is the consistency of the most common error, and what a fundamental error it is: students don’t know how to use parts of speech.  We have nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and the rest drilled into us from elementary school, and here are high school students who, when shown that a word is a noun, will still try to use it as a verb in their own efforts: “He impetussed at me.”  Actually, the most frequent mistake–one that seems to come automatically when trying out an unfamilar word–is to make it an adjective: “He was a really impetus guy.”

So even in honors classes, I spend more time than I ever thought I would reviewing the difference between parts of speech and how to use them. 

I jotted down the “best” examples I saw of mistaken usages in this week’s papers.  Though some concern verb tense, confusing a word with a similar word, or attaching the wrong meaning to a word, the vast majority of these are matters of switched parts of spech. 

The vocabulary words are in italics.


Our army is nostalgia.

Apple juice has a great quintessence.

This wind is impetus.

I was impetus and willing to talk again.

Lawyers tend to be duplicity people. 

I kept a steady impetus while running up the hill.

Hitler showed great averse towards the Jews.

I had to cursory over my study guide before the test.

Cursory reading is how people read.

He is the most quintessence person in our class.

I laughed at her when she made grimace.

She felt bad after she had done duplicity.

I was very cursory when I read over my essay.

By impetus, I grabbed hold of the railing.

The quintessence form of a lemon is a seed.

I always retrogress when it comes to school.

Angles are benevolent.

I am meticulous on my cleaning.

The cursory of some students will cost them their grade.

That was a very duplicitiful act.

The child was very impetus when he ate a sugar loaded cake.

The little girl ex-tolled him.

There was a grimace expression on her face.

Being cursory on a test is never going to end well.

He was sully.

These teenagers used to tantalize this kid.

Her teacher writes illegible.

During interview the criminal was feint.

When I punched the teacher I got expulsed.

Those people who didn’t pay for their house got expulsionated.

The student got expulsion from the school.

Because I failed the 11th grade I’m illegible to be a Senior.

Loitering is very low lucrative.

The comedian was the funniest mediocre I’ve ever met.

The bowling plans have been adjourn.

People can be mediocres.

He said to not ever dissolute in yourself.

The hens kept proliferating eggs.

They went to Haiti to fodder the starving families.

They had to expulsion the man out of the bar.

The teenager was dissolute to the rules her parents had set for her.

The judge said, “This meeting is to be adjourn.”

He went to the gym to fortify.

The hard workers had to eat scraps and fodder like foods.

Some articles should just be a terse.

The jeer comments made the girl cry.

Someone always tries to make a feint move.

He tried to feint my plan.

He always had to fodder the animals.

They started to dissolute after another loss.

The general subjugate.

It is a fodder when you see something spectacular.


3 comments on “The Use and Abuse of Parts of Speech, or, Why Basics Are Important

  1. At the very least, your students provided some fodder for this blog. It was spectacular indeed. My personal favorites:

    Those people who didn’t pay for their house got expulsionated.
    Because I failed the 11th grade I’m illegible to be a Senior.

    And I don’t even want to speculate about the following:

    These teenagers used to tantalize this kid.

    Some people find their way into the workplace and produce sentences containing malapropisms and grammatical errors in their written communication. There were a few repeat offenders in my previous office that dazzled and delighted us with their creativity.

  2. Don’t tell them that if they deliberately misuse words when writing poetry it can be considered creative.

    (I was chagrinned when I learned that.)

    When I was working as a writing tutor, it seemed like 50% of grammatical errors happened because the students really didn’t know exactly what it was they were trying to say. The function of grammar is to enable a writer to communicate their meaning with precision.

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