Table of Contents

1. Mechanics: Conventions Found Only in Written Language

Is It the Right Word?

Capital Letters

Apostrophes Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms

Where Do the Sentences Break?

Not Enough for a Sentence or Too Much: Fragments and Run-Ons

Paragraphing Text Features Beyond the Paragraph

Bibliographic Citation

2. Nitty-Gritty Grammar: Words, Tenses, Sentences, and Complexity

Parts of SpeechVerb Tenses

Exploring Verb Tenses

How Sentences Work

Sentence and Text Complexity

3. Usage

Usage as a Social Marker

Talking About Usage with Students

Generational Usage Issues: Lost Battles and Losing Battles

Social-Group Usage Issues

English Language Learners and Usage

Usage and Word Choice: It’s Alternative, Not Alternate

A Footnote on Usage: Who’s in Charge Here?

4. Language Diversity and Social Justice

Myths About Language Variation

Working with Students With—and Without—Stigmatized Features in Their Language

So Now What?

5. Linguistics for Kids

What Is Language?

How Many Languages Are There in the World?

Where Did Language Come From?

What’s the Oldest Language? What’s the Newest One? What’s the Simplest One? The Most Complicated One?

Is Sign Language Really a Language?

Where Does the Alphabet Come From, and Why Doesn’t Everyone Use the Same One?

Is It True That People Taught Gorillas and Chimpanzees to Use Language?

Where Do People’s Names Come From?

Will We All Speak the Same Language Someday?


A. Language Curriculum Year by Year

B. The Common Core State Standards

C. Text Features for Student Writing: A Style Guide

D. Annotated Bibliographies

E. Literature in Different Versions of American English: Is It Authentic?