Today is Saturday, September 20, 2014

Valor Urged with Conjunctions

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By ANNE DONNELL

I called you abut this and suggested then that you use this for a column. My son’s homework involved these, so what are “coordinating conjunctions”?

- Helpful Mother

Not many people call anymore. Well, a few other old people. And, to set up the ONLINE DEPARTMENT,  I’m exaggerating (and insulting the younger people who do call including the son, age 41, whose son, my grandson, age 9, asked me to put his dad’s age in the paper, “so people will know he’s old.” Have I come full circle here?)

 “Why Not Retire In Florida?” (Thanks, PW) • A little old lady was sitting on a park bench in a Florida adult community. When a man sits down on the other end of the bench, she asks, "Are you a stranger here?" He replies, "I lived here years ago." "So, where were you all these years?" "In prison," he says.  "Why did they put you in prison?" He looks at her, and very quietly says, "I killed my wife." "Oh!" said the woman. "So you're single?" • An elderly couple in Ft. Myers had known each other for a number of years. One evening there was a community supper in the big arena in the clubhouse. The two were at the same table, seated across from one another. The man finally gathered the courage to ask her, "Will you marry me?" After about six seconds of careful consideration, she answered, "Yes. Yes, I will!" Next morning, he was troubled. Did she say yes or did she say no? He called her to ask. First, he explained that he didn't remember as well as formerly, and then he inquired, "When I asked if you would marry me, did you say yes or did you say no?" He was delighted to hear her say, "Why, I said, 'Yes, yes I will,' and I meant it with all my heart." Then she continued, "And I'm so glad you called, because I couldn't remember who had asked me." • A man was telling his neighbor in Naples, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it’s state of the art. It's perfect." "Really," answered the neighbor. "What kind is it?" "Twelve thirty." • Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to his doctor in Boca to get a physical. A few days later the doctor saw a smiling Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. Later the doctor spoke to Morris and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?" "Just doing what you said, Doc: ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful,’” Morris answered. To which the doctor replied, "I didn't say that, Morris. I said, ‘You've got a heart murmur, be careful!’”

First we’ll review what a conjunction is. A part of speech, a conjunction is a joiner. It will connect single words, phrases, or clauses to the rest of the sentence. The most commonly used conjunction is probably and, a coordinating conjunction, sometimes called a “simple coordinating conjunction.” Other examples of coordinating conjunctions: but, or, for, yet, nor, so. These are used to join equal grammatical parts, meaning these parts have the same job in a sentence, like two subjects or two direct objects or two prepositional phrases. EXAMPLE OF TWO PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES CONNECTED BY COORDINATING CONJUNCTION. Did you put the book on the table or on the piano?

What looks like a coordinating conjunction could be part of a correlative conjunction.  These have two parts, and are very familiar. EXAMPLES. Either/or; neither/nor; whether/or; both/and; not only/but also. EXAMPLES IN SENTENCES. Either you finish your homework now or I’ll see to it that you never leave home after dark again. The only one of these that is commonly misused (though I hate to suggest that someone, somewhere isn’t slaughtering another one) is neither/nor.  People tend to substitute or for nor. 

While we’re at it, we’ll finish up the types of conjunctions with two more. Adverbial conjunctions (some call them conjunctive adverbs) like however, nevertheless, consequently, moreover, this, then, therefore connect independent clauses. EXAMPLE.  It seemed the package would never arrive; however, after a delay of several days it did arrive.

And, saving the toughest for last, but remembering “…the valiant never taste of death but once,” we’ll tackle subordinating conjunctions. That quotation is used for hyperbole, as no deaths by studying English grammar have been reported, just a lot of gagging and headaches. [From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act II, scene ii, line 32ff Cowards die many times before their deaths;/ The valiant never taste of death but once./  Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,/ It seems to me most strange that men should fear;/ Seeing that death, a necessary end,/Will come when it will come.

[AND TO REMIND YOU Julius Caesar is a famous tragedy by William Shakespeare (English, 1564-1616. Actor, poet, playwright) Strictly speaking he was born English, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and died British, during the reign of James I, also James VI of Scotland, signifying the unity of Scotland and England – the British Isles. Julius Caesar was perhaps written in 1599 and probably one of Shakespeare’s first plays to be performed at the Globe Theatre. About the events leading up to the assassination of Julius Caesar, a real event in 44 BC, the play also deals with the assassination’s aftermath. Historians differ over Shakespeare’s treatment of conspirators Brutus and Cassius and their opponents Mark Antony (given the most famous words, “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen…”) and Octavian (later in real history Caesar Augustus). I love this stuff.]

So we’ll do subordinating conjunctions next week! And as Lady Macbeth (yes, more Shakespeare, and I don’t care if you are “bored with the Bard”) admonished her husband (well, she wanted him to kill the king – I’m merely asking you to read about subordinating conjunctions at a future time) “ …But screw your courage to the sticking-place,/And we’ll not fail.”  -William Shakespeare. Macbeth, Act I, scene vii, line 59ff.     

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