Archive for October, 2013

Of FANBOYS and Conjunctive Adverbs: How to Compose Compound Sentences

October 27, 2013

T-L-4953-FANBOYS-Co-Ordinating-Conjunctions-Display-Poster_ver_1 (1)
Let’s start with the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so). I’ll use this handy, easy-to-remember mnemonic device instead of a more technical term because some people refer to them as conjunctions (as in, Conjunction-junction, what’s your function?), some call them coordinators, while others use the term conjunctive coordinators. (Oh, those wild and crazy linguists. In England they’re called philologists. Is that cool, or what?)

FANBOYS are used to combine two simple sentences into one compound sentence. You’ll be relieved to discover that compound sentences are much easier to punctuate than those pesky complex sentences. All you have to do is replace the period with a comma, insert the appropriate FANBOY, and change the first letter of the second sentence from uppercase to lowercase.

Here are some examples:

I want to go out. My girlfriend wants to stay home.


I want to go out, but my girlfriend wants to stay home

Don’t hurt me. I am just the piano player.


Don’t hurt me, for I am just the piano player.

(I know this sounds a little goofy, but when for is employed as a FANBOY, it means because.)

I worked very hard. I should get a good grade.


I worked very hard, so I should get a good grade.

I studied all night. I got a “D” on the test.


I studied all night, yet I got a “D” on the test.
(But and yet can be used interchangeably.)

I love pizza. My best friend owns a pizzeria.


I love pizza, and my best friend owns a pizzeria.

(A note on and: By my crude estimation, only about half of the high school English teachers in Los Angeles County enforce the comma rule for compound sentences using the word and. Moreover, the comma is unnecessary when combining two simple sentences with the same subject. Thus, the following sentence requires no comma: I’m going to go out and buy a car.)

The following words are conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, besides, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, still, subsequently, then, therefore, and thus.

Now repeat after me three times: FANBOYS are NOT conjunctive adverbs and they must never be utilized as such. More on that in a future post.

Quick lesson on combining simple sentences with FANBOYS:

#1 Share the above examples of simple sentences combined into compound sentences with your students.

#2 Number off students into groups of three.

#3 Instruct each group to compose eight pairs of simple sentences and then combine them into four compound sentences. (4+8=12)

#4 When groups have completed this task, they will show their work to the teacher who will put an asterisk next to one of the complound sentences.

#5 Students will copy the compound sentences along with the two simple sentences from which it was combined on the board.

#6 Teacher will review the sentences on the board as a whole-class activity.

by Richard W. Bray

The First Stone

October 25, 2013

first stone

Look at that girl
Struttin down the line
Like she owns the whole world
Thinkin she’s so fine

She’s just living her life
Ain’t hurtin nobody else
Time to focus your mind
On just being yourself

Look at that couple
What a filthy disgrace
One’s the wrong age
And one’s the wrong race

You might wanna pause
Before you stop and stare
They’re only in your head
Cuz you want ‘em there

Look at that freak
He needs to cut his hair
He looks like Jesus
But he smells like a bear

When you look in a mirror
Who’s lookin back?
Were you put on this planet
To judge and attack?

by Richard W. Bray


October 18, 2013


If you got a problem
With the girl I’m dating
Keep your piehole closed
And stop all your hating

I heard enough
Ain’t gonna hear no more
You better go home
And shut the front door

So quick to judge
So quick to condemn
Spend your whole life saying
How you’re better than them

I heard enough
Ain’t gonna hear no more
You better go home
And shut the front door

I made it this far
Without listening to you
Please take this dollar
And go buy a clue

I heard enough
Ain’t gonna hear no more
You better go home
And shut the front door

by Richard W. Bray

War is Money

October 13, 2013


War is money
Widows weep
Bombs and rockets
Don’t come cheap

War is money
Napalm glows
It also lights up
A portfolio

War is money
Children die
Oh, what comfort
Blood can buy

War is money
War is power
Should have listened
To Eisenhower

by Richard W. Bray

Some Thoughts on Rosemary Agonito’s History of Ideas on Women

October 5, 2013



All classes must be deemed to have their special attributes; as the poet says of women, “Silence is a woman’s glory,” but it is not equally the glory of man.

Aristotle (54)

It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual impulses that could give the name of the fair sex to that under-sized, narrow shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race.

Arthur Schopenhauer (199)

Emily Dickinson’s parents would have preferred her to read less. In a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, our greatest poet notes:

My Mother does not care for thought—and Father, too busy with his Briefs—to notice what we do—He buys me many Books—but begs me not to read them—because he fears they joggle the Mind.

Although this sounds barbarous today, Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson were in alignment with over two thousand years of Western thought regarding the wisdom and feasibility of educating women.

As Rosemary Agonito demonstrates in her invaluable sourcebook History of Ideas on Women, the dominant perspective in Western philosophy from Aristotle to Freud is that women are childlike, feebleminded creatures, unsuited to function in the man’s world of action and ideas.

Nineteenth century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel argued that women are inherently unfit for anything beyond the domestic sphere:

Women can, of course, be educated, but their minds are not adapted to the higher sciences….Women may have happy inspirations, taste, elegance, but they have not the ideal. The difference between man and woman is the same as that between animal and plant….If women were to control the government, the state would be in danger, for they do not act according to the dictates of universality, but are influenced by accidental inclinations and opinions (167).

Another German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), tells us that women are basically children. By infantilizing women and feminizing childhood, male philosophers invent false polarities that preserve the status of men:

Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted; in a word, they are big children all their life long—a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the full-grown man. (194)

Unlike so many of the men who have shaped Western thought, Immanuel Kant (Prussia, 1724-1804) genuinely liked women. (There is much misogyny in the suppression of women, but misogyny is not a crucial ingredient.) Kant loves women just the way they are so much that he worries about what will happen if women endeavor to worry their pretty little heads over the affairs of men. (Some might argue that this is itself a form of misogyny.)

Laborious learning or painful pondering, even if the woman should greatly succeed in it, destroy the merits that are proper to her sex, and because of their rarity they can make of her an object of cold admiration; but at the same time they will weaken the charms with which she exercises her great power over the other sex (131).

The three ugliest villains in History of Ideas on Women are Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas.

Here’s Agonito on Paul:

There is evidence, consistent with Jesus’ example, that women played an important part in the earliest days of the new church, even engaging in such evangelical work as teaching the faith and converting large numbers to Christianity. Whatever the reason, Paul explicitly objected this new turn, and his reactionary efforts in the matter of women succeeded in setting the tone for thinking about women that would be continually reinforced in the intellectual and practical tradition in the West for the next two thousand years (68).

Paul thought women were pretty icky, and it was best to stay away from them:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

(1 Corinthians 7:1-2)

Like many contemporary Muslims, Paul felt that women should cover their heads in public in order to emphasize the greater glory of men:

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man
(1 Corinthians 11:7)

According to Augustine, man derives his superior status over women directly from God. (See Genesis, Adam and Eve).

And indeed He did not even create the woman that was to be given to him as his wife, as he created the man, but created her out of the man, that the whole human race might derive from one man (75).

Like many influential Western male thinkers including Sigmund Freud, Aquinas sees women as an inherently defective, naturally subordinate creatures.

As regards to the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material disposition, or even from some external influence; such as the south wind, which is moist….woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates (85).

John Stuart Mill, David Hume, Ashley Montagu, and Herbert Marcuse are the only male thinkers in History of Ideas on Women whose ideas on women are not appalling by today’s standards. History of Ideas on Women is mostly a dismal read. But it’s an indispensable book.

by Richard W. Bray