Dead Bunny’s Guide to Basic Grammar

For those who haven’t met him yet, Dead Bunny is my teaching assistant. Don’t worry. He isn’t really a dead bunny. He’s a live bunny whose name just happens to be Dead. (Blame my students.) He has his own (neglected) blog where he was teaching algebra last year. He’s starting to produce his own tutorials on algebra topics.

But he actually started out teaching writing. After a year’s break, he’s now starting to help my writing students again by teaching the basic foundations of grammar.

While he hasn’t figured out how to teach nouns yet, he has figured out that “bunny” is a common noun and “Dead Bunny” is a proper noun. He’s still working on this one.

Verbs are much simpler. As the commercials say, a verb is what you do. So if you’re trying to decide if a word is a verb, simply ask yourself if the bunny can do the word you’re looking at. One of my students loves this one. As she’s working on her worksheets, she whispers to herself, “The bunny (word)”, and keeps going until she hits a combination that allows the bunny to do something.

Dead Bunny also likes adjectives. An adjective is a word that describes a noun. When looking for adjectives, just put the word in front of “bunny”. If it can actually describe the bunny, you’ve found an adjective. (It’s kind of funny listening to my whispering student work through these. She asks herself, “Can the bunny be (word)? No, but he could be (word). Wait, no he can’t. Aha, but he could be (word).”)

Adverbs are words that describe verbs. If the word you’re looking at can answer any one of the four following questions:

  1. The bunny did it how?
  2. The bunny did it when?
  3. The bunny did it where?
  4. The bunny did it how often?

then the word is an adverb.

The only other part of speech, the original one, that Dead Bunny has taught is prepositions. If the word can describe where the bunny is in relation to a box, then the word is a preposition. (This lesson is actually how the bunny was given his name.)

While it may seem strange to learn grammar from a fictional bunny, it’s really helped a lot of my students better understand the parts of speech. In fact, after our verb lesson, my whispering student went back to her English teacher and asked if she could retake a test she had just failed. With the help of the bunny, she got a much better grade on the retake, and she’s now using Dead Bunny to explain grammar to struggling classmates. Her teacher was quite amused.

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