Wednesday Writing

How do you run a marathon? One step at a time. Any major project takes time, commitment, and consistent effort. You can’t just snap your fingers and have a completed project. But you can create big things one small piece at a time.

A winding pathway of open books on leaf-covered ground. Caption: How do you write a whole book? You don’t have to write a complete book. Write a part of a book—any part you want—and then another and another. Eventually you can put them all together, and a complete book will have happened. If you can write a paragraph, you can write a complete book. You just have to keep doing it.

Monday Muddle: duck, duct

Monday Muddle: duck: (n) a type of waterbird; meat from that waterbird; a heavy cotton or linen fabric used to make sails and duck tape duct: an enclosed channel that allows the passage of a substance, for example heating duct, tear duct

Duck Tape is now a brand name of adhesive, plastic-coated, fabric tape, but it was originally the generic name of strips of duck material. The original was not adhesive, but was useful in applications from shoemaking to preventing the corrosion of steel. Neither the original nor the current is suitable for using on heating ductwork. 

Duct tape is now the more common, generic name of adhesive, plastic-coated, fabric tape. It also is not suitable for use on heating ductwork. 

If you need tape to seal your heating ducts, be sure that it specifies that it is made for that purpose. It will be more like foil than cloth tape. 

If you are interested in making clothing from duct tape, as mentioned in last week’s Muddle, and you are a senior in high school in the United States or Canada (with some regional restrictions), check out the Duck brand contest. Each year they provide scholarships to the creators of the best prom dress and best tux. If you are interested in knowing more about it or seeing winners from previous years, you can do that here: https://www.duckbrand.com/stuck-at-prom

(I am in no way affiliated with Duck Tape.)

What Is A Fronted Adverbial?

Tweet from @CJessCooke: Anyone struggling with homeschooling should know that, despite having a PhD in Literature and having published 12 books, I only learned what a fronted adverbial was when my 8 year old's teacher said he doesn't use enough of them in his written work. My caption: What IS a fronted adverbial?
Have you seen this tweet? It has been retweeted over 3,700 times, but it has also been shared beyond Twitter. Do you know what a fronted adverbial is? I’ll explain it in this post.


I don’t have a PhD, but I do have a Master of Education degree, and the focus of my education and teaching experience has been language. Specifically the mechanics of language—grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I very likely have spent a lot more time studying grammar than Dr. Jess-Cooke has, and I had never heard of a fronted adverbial before either. 

I have been a language teacher for almost three decades. I have taught parts of speech to many people, in large classrooms and in individual tutoring sessions, in two languages. This term was new to me.

It turns out that what it represents is not new; it just has a new name. When I went to school, “adverbial” was an adjective, and it has been used to mean “pertaining to adverbs” since at least the early 1600s. I don’t know when “adverbial” began to be used as a noun. The only entry in my etymological dictionary is for the adjective, and Google’s Ngram Viewer only shows the word without delineating the part of speech.

If we wanted to express that a group of words was being used as an adverb, we called it an adverbial phrase or an adverbial clause (depending on the function of the words in the adverbial grouping). If there was one single word, we called it an adverb. 

Adverbs, and any grouping of words used as adverbs, are mostly used to modify—add more information to—verbs. They can also be used to modify adjectives and other adverbs. Where they are placed in the sentence does not affect their function. It may affect the flow and interest of your sentence, and they do need to be placed in a way that makes it clear what they are modifying, but there is no real-life quota for the percentage of adverbial phrases you should use or where you should place them. 

I don’t think the use of the word “fronted” makes this term any clearer, and I think there are simpler ways to express it, but I won’t elaborate on that in this post. Here is the answer you’ve been looking for: A fronted adverbial is an adverbial phrase that is used at the beginning of a sentence. 

Tuesday Two

Write a story with only two sentences. Use the photo for inspiration if you wish.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash.

An arc of light from the earth to the sky created by a rocket being launched.