The Vocabulary of Grammar

Our schools now often teach little of an essential and once common knowledge, the vocabulary of grammar—the techspeak of language and writing. Words such as subject, predicate, object, or adjective and adverb, or past tense and past-perfect tense, are half understood by or wholly unfamiliar to many. Yet they’re the names of the writer’s tools. They’re the words you need when you want to say what’s wrong or right in a sentence. A writer who doesn’t know them is like a carpenter who doesn’t know a hammer from a screwdriver. (“Hey, Pat, if I use that whatsit there with the kinda pointy end, will it get this thing into this piece of wood?”)