Q: What is a gerund? I think it’s sort of like a verb, but I’m not sure.
A: If you think it’s sort of like a verb, you would be correct. You would also be correct if you think some verbs are sort of like gerunds. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, which is why it’s important to diagram the sentence and see where the gerund pops up. Or down. The main thing about gerunds is that they’re always like verbs, but verbs aren’t always like gerunds. So now you know.
Q: Why is it not okay to end a sentence with a preposition?
A: Sometimes it is okay, depending on the context. A better question would be why nobody has a problem with starting a sentence with a preposition. I hope this clears that up.
Q: I think I know what a subject is, but what exactly is a predicate?
A: I’ll answer both. A subject is a British citizen, I think. It can also be something to talk about, like, “We talked about world famine, an important subject.” A predicate, on the other hand, is something you don’t want to find yourself in. For example, “A thug tried to rob him, and he realized it would be difficult to get out of the predicate.”
Q: My English teacher said that possessive pronouns don’t get apostrophes. Can you explain that, being that if I say, “The cop told me its too late to recover it’s wallet, but your okay.” The possessive pronoun seems to have the apostrophe she said its not supposed to have.
A: I see your problem, and it seems to be not your teacher, but you. I would just remove all the apostrophes from your pronouns and call it a day.
Q: What is a contraction?
A: A contraction is when something gets smaller or tighter. Although you weren’t aware of it, you were born because of contractions. Ask a doctor, or your mother.
Q: What’s the deal with colons or periods?
A: I’m the Political Grammar Guy, not a gastroenterologist or an Ob/Gyn. Stick to grammar questions.
Q: What’s a dangling participle, and why should they be avoided?
A: It’s a participle that dangles, and, as I told someone else, you’ll see it when you diagram your sentence and the participle dangles. They should be avoided because things dangling from your sentences are not very attractive.
Q: What does, [sic] mean, and how should I treat it?
A: It’s Latin for, sera iba chi, or something like that. You should always treat it with respect. Some writers put it in sentences so you’ll know to respect what’s being said. I’ve known this since second grade, when Tommy Gillespie, a classmate, told me. He seemed to know what he was talking about, most of the time. I have to go now, so later!