Third grade is when kids learn, or should learn, some of the most important things about the English language. It's when they figure out how not to get laughed at by people in board meetings or in casual conversation. If you don't want your kid getting made fun of when he or she is all grown up, sending emails or whatever will be the main mode of communication in 20 years, you should make sure they pay attention in their third grade grammar lessons.
Punctuation is somehow the most clumsy and elegant thing about English. All those squiggly lines that mean nothing by themselves but give meaning to everything around them are tripped over constantly by otherwise intelligent adults. But fear not! Your third grader needn't face the same shame and humiliation!
A question mark ends any sentence that asks for information, even rhetorically.
You like robots, don't you?
Didn't you have a dog?
Do you have any idea what this means?!
The last example doubles some termination punctuation by letting the exclamation point into the mix. What's great about question marks and exclamation points is that they are termination punctuations only in narrative. In dialog, on the other hand, you can stick them anywhere you want for effect. Different writers have different styles when it comes to authoring dialog. In narration, though, an exclamation point or question mark ends a sentence.
An exclamation point is trickier than it looks prima facie. It can mean excitement, anger, or just emphasis. It should be used sparingly. Some writers treat the exclamation point like the pope treats an ostracized heathen, as some kind of taboo. They think that their verbs and nouns should do the work and that exclamation points are a like a video game cheat. You can decide for yourself. One thing's certain, though, if you use them too much, your readers will become desensitized quickly. A little goes a long way.
A period ends a thought or a statement. Easy, right? Not so fast! Run-on sentences are the bane of many a teacher's evenings. Luckily, English is like every other language in that sentences begin with a subject. A subject is the doer in a sentence. They can be I, we, they, it, or the dog, the cat, and the robot. A subject should always be at the start of a sentence. When you have a subject hanging out in the middle of a sentence, you have to make sure your clauses are in order, which means you need a comma somewhere. For now, in the third grade, know that a period comes after a subject accomplishes something.
The dog barked at the robot.
My robot uses video game cheats.
I think robots will take over the world some day.
Nouns, verbs, prepositions, and adverbs are the most important parts of speech in the third grade. Nouns and verbs are a review from the second grade, but students will lean more of them and learn how to modify them with the latter two parts of speech. YourDictionary.com has a lot fun things to review nouns and verbs, but in the third grade, prepositions and adverbs are totally where it's at.
Prepositions are words that help describe every other part of speech. They tell you when something happened or where someone is. On, around, under, over, about, in, and beneath are all prepositions. Yesterday, before, after, and today are prepositions, too. In the third grade, kids will start getting the hang of single word prepositions, but wait until they get into prepositional phrases! That's when the real fun begins.
I had a dog before I had a robot.
My dog is in my robot's belly now.
In Victorian England, they thought robots would always run on steam.
Adverbs are words that describe how things are done. They describe verbs, adjectives, and even other adverbs. Many of them end in -ly, but they don't have to.
Dogs bark loudly.
My dog was well-trained.
Robots move very quickly.
This is the worst! Good and well are not interchangeable. Well is an adverb, good is an adjective. It's simple. This isn't even a rule, but a fact of life. Why some people have a hard time with this is one of the unexplainable phenomena on the shelf at the FBI headquarters with UFO sightings and why human beings think robots should be shaped like they are.
Here are some examples for you and your third grader to live by.
This robot is good.
He cleans up my mess well.
How does your robot get along with your dog? Not so well!
This tastes good! Your robot cooks well, doesn't he?
How are you today? Good. You mean well, don't you? You're right; I meant well. Please forgive me.
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