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May 24, 2000

Why does "To us it he gave" sounds odd to English speakers while "He gave it to us" makes more sense? The rules of language that we call grammar are conventions that guide everything from word choice to sentence structure, and these rules influence how we speak, write and think. Explore the mechanics of language through some fun activities and discover how using correct grammar can help you communicate more effectively through these direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site:

Level 1

Grammar Rock: How do conjunctions hook up words, phrases and clauses? Have fun learning grammar rules while singing such catchy tunes as "Conjunction Junction" and viewing educational cartoons.

The Grammar Gorillas: Is it a noun or a verb? Help the grammar gorillas earn bananas by identifying the correct parts of speech within a sentence.

State of Being Verbs: Meet Harry Helping Verb, Active Anna Action Verb and Stately State-of-Being Verb and learn how to identify the kinds of verbs through illustrated stories.

Level 2

Big Dog's Grammar--A Bare Bones Guide to English: This friendly guide to important grammar concepts teaches you not only how to avoid comma splices and misplaced modifiers but also how to use parallel structure and active sentences to make your prose sparkle.

English Zone: Test how grammar savvy you are through this large collection of online games and quizzes ranging from adjective clauses and passive verbs to the correct use of quantifiers and indefinite pronouns.

Grammar Bytes: Prepositions are the words that tell us, for example, where someone or something is. Learn the different parts of speech, refer to helpful explanations of grammar terms and rules, and try some interactive exercises to test your knowledge.

Level 3

Word Police Academy: Are you competent enough to issue Grammar Citations for crimes against the language? Take online exams that qualify you for the Pronunciation Patrol and the Anti-Redundancy Squad and read about current cases tried in the Word Court.

Guide to Grammar and Writing: I may give you advice, but you advise me. This site's extensive collection of resources not only explains such intricacies as dangling participles and correct comma usage, but also provides helpful techniques to help you polish your prose.

On-Line English Grammar: The definite article "the" is one of the most frequently used words in the English language. Use the subject index or the table of contents to find clear explanations and examples of proper grammar usage.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

What five questions can an adverb answer?

CLUE: See Grammar Rock

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The chances are 1 in 221 that you will pick two aces in a row out of a 52-card deck.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Bich Do, Paula Horvath, and Elizabeth Olson and Anna Manring.

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