Saturday, November 25, 2006

Grammar Resources on line

The site for Guide to Grammar and Writing seems to work no longer with the death of the webmaster, Charles Darling. Here are a couple of sites that can serve as replacement resources.

The first one, Grammar Slammer, has some good grammar explanations available in a simple format that makes finding what you want fairly easy although it doesn't have the richness of explanations of the Guide to Grammar and Writing. The site appears to be a site aimed at selling a more complete product, which I have not tried and cannot endorse.


The second one, the OWL (On-Line Writing Lab) - Purdue University, has a wealth of materials on different grammar, writing, and punctuation topics. I have used this site off and on for several years. I particularly like the option of downloading pdf files of many of the explanations. While Grammar Slammer provides short and clear explanations, OWL (On-Line Writing Lab) - Purdue University supplies more in-depth explanations and exercises for practice.

Friday, November 24, 2006


In class, the question arose because a student reported that she got the answer wrong on a test because she thought due was always followed by a time. But due when followed by to means caused by. Another synonym for due is attributable according to the Columbia Journalism Review site. The explanation further notes that "due to" is usually preceded by some form of the verb be or words that function like it, that is, linking verbs.

Their examples are:

  • "The power failure was due to a lightning strike."
  • "Their exhaustion seemed due to the humidity rather than the heat."

Here is a little more about due. Due with prepositions can connect with money and time.

Due to is also used with money.

  • Ten dollars for the tickets is due to Mr. Jones.

To return to the original point about due to. When due is used with on or in, it often refers to a time.

  • The paper is due on the last day of the month.
  • Your answer is due in ten minutes.

Due has several uses beyond pointing to time including causes and money.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Because is a commonly used subordinate conjunction. The word because is not followed by very many parts of speech except in this sentence where because is not a subordinator but the word being talked about. Consider the following concordance results from VIEW: Variation in English Words and Phrases.

As we can see of the 9 lines from the results, 2 are nouns, workers and germs, one is a gerund, shooting, and 3 are personal pronouns:they or she. In one sentence because introduces another dependent clause beginning if you do not pay. In line 6, the prepositional phrase like Jesus follows because. Nine lines are not enough lines to make any serious generalization from.

However, using another online concordance, Lexical Tutor, similar results were found.

These results, based on many more lines, indicate that a noun or noun phrase, pronoun, or preposition are most likely to follow because. Consequently, when writing clauses that begin with because, we should make sure the word or words that follow include a noun, pronoun, or preposition. The most common preposition that follows because is the preposition of. Do not use a verb after because unless you are writing about the word because.