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by Kay Miller

Wordsmiths is the home of Jensen’s Grammar, Journey Through Grammar Land, Jensen’s Punctuation, Jensen’s Vocabulary, Jensen’s Format Writing, and other fine language books.  Wordsmiths states their mission as “…to provide teachers and students with quality grammar, vocabulary, and writing materials in the field of English.”  As noted on the Wordsmiths website (, the purpose of grammar books is to get students to write good sentences and to practice their writing by producing paragraphs, essays, reports, etc. To this end, Wordsmiths has chosen to focus primarily on offering Jensen grammar books.

Wordsmiths Jensen Grammar
Click to visit Wordsmiths' web site

Jensen grammar books can be used with a variety of grade levels and are currently used, and highly recommended, by homeschools, Christian schools and private schools.  Jensen’s Grammar provides lessons that are simple and direct, with exercises that constantly repeat what has been formerly taught. Journey Through Grammar Land books are designed for grades 5 – 7 but have been used successfully with older students as well. 

Jensen’s Punctuation is completely self-contained for easy instruction with all of the rules, exercises, tests, and answers in one book.  Using Jensen’s Vocabulary, students study the structure and learn the meaning of root words, significantly increasing their vocabulary. Jensen’s Format Writing is a comprehensive tool that teaches the basic components of expository writing—content, style, organization, and mechanics.

For additional information or to purchase Jensen grammar books, please visit the Wordsmiths website at  Browsing the website, especially reviewing the newsletter archives and prior web articles is a valuable source of language-related learning materials.  For example, the following is an article from the October 2006 “Notes from the Smithy…” newsletter on the Wordsmiths site.


Written by Frode Jensen

A common directive in many grammar books and tests is to identify the function of a noun in a given situation. Most people just guess, but there is a better way. English, being a syntactical language, primarily uses position to determine what the noun is doing.

The position of the noun in question must be relative to some other words, and that's the key for figuring out what the noun is doing. Two basic word types determine the function of a noun. Those two types are prepositions and verbs. Finding a noun and then finding the preposition or verb associated with the noun solves most situations. Finding neither of those two words means it is most likely a subject.

The key to the system is to find the noun in question and then look to its immediate left for one of the key words, a preposition (P) or a verb (V). The key word may be the first word to the left, or it may be a word or two away, but generally you will find it within one to four words to the left.

If the first key word to the left is a preposition, then the function of the noun is the object of the preposition, the shorthand for which is OP.

The man in the car took his wife to the store.

Look to the left of car; you will find the. The is not a P or a V, so we keep looking. Next is in; it is a P, so car is an object of the preposition, OP.

If the first key word to the left is a verb, then it's time to identify what type of verb it is, active or linking. Since there are only twelve linking verbs along with their various parts, it's just a matter of seeing if the verb is one of the twelve. If so, it's linking; if not, it's active. Simple enough.

In the example above, looking to the left of wife, we find his, which is not a verb or preposition. Then we find took, which is a verb, an active verb since it is not one of the twelve linkers. This means that wife is a direct object, DO.

If the verb is active, you can be 98% sure the noun is a direct object; the shorthand is O or DO. I say 98% because once in a great while, the noun will be an indirect object, IO. The IO occurs after a GIVE type verb, but it's rare. Here is an example.

John gave his wife a rose.

Looking to the left of wife in this sentence, we find gave, obviously a GIVE type verb. Direct objects answer the question what? Indirect objects receive the direct objects. What did John give' He gave a rose. Who received the rose' His wife did. So in this sentence wife is the indirect object, IO.

If the verb is linking, then the noun is functioning as a subject complement. In other words, it completes the subject by equating to the subject, and it can generally be reversed with subject.

That man is my friend.

Looking to the left of friend we find my, which is neither a preposition or a verb. Next is the word is. It is a verb, a linking verb since it is a form of BE and is the main verb in this sentence. Nouns following linking verbs are subject complements, SC. Friend and man refer to the same person. We can reverse the sentence to read, 'My friend is that man.'

What if we don't find a preposition or a verb to the left? To put it another way, what if we find nothing to left or maybe only a noun marker or adjective? In that case we have a subject, S. Look at man in the example sentence above. That is neither verb nor preposition, and there?s nothing else. Man must be the subject, S.

That's it except for when one noun modifies another, but that's as rare as the indirect object. It's all explained in Jensen's Grammar.


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