Grammar and More, Sponsored by Portico Books Sample Icons To Represent Parts of Speech: Spring - Action Verb, Screw - Subordinating Conjunction, Glue - Conjunction, and N-Cube - Noun

Advanced Search
  Grammar and More on Facebook Fran Hamilton on LinkedIn

Portico Books
P.O. Box 6094
Chesterfield, MO 63006
Email Us

2000-2011 Portico Books
All rights reserved.

We Rated with RSAC!
Labeled with ICRA


LinguaPhile, January 2003

A monthly e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.

Happy New Year to all! I hope 2003 will be a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for you.


New Year's Resources

The January 2001 LinguaPhile includes articles specifically related to the new year. In addition to a quotation, writing suggestions, and bulletin board ideas, you will find pointers for realizing your goals. (All too often, wishful thinking is the major strategy we employ in their pursuit.) You can see these resources for the new year at

Back to Top

Workshop: St. Louis

On Saturday, February 1, Fran will present a workshop sponsored by the St. Louis Writers Guild. Titled "Managing the Writing Process," the two-hour interactive workshop will show participants how to focus on one step at a time and how to get valuable feedback at various points along the way. The workshop will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, 9618 Watson Road in Crestwood, Missouri. Admission is free for members of the St. Louis Writers Guild; the charge for others is $5.00.

If it is convenient, please take to the workshop an idea for writing and/or a short piece or excerpt (300 words or less) on which you would like feedback.

Back to Top

Upcoming Conference: Write to Learn: Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Conferences are a great place to
 • get a firsthand look at Hands-On English products
 • introduce your colleagues to Hands-On English products
 • give feedback on products you're using (including suggestions!)
 • get your questions answered
 • avoid shipping costs on Hands-On English purchases

If you will be attending the Write to Learn Conference at Tan-Tar-A (Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri) February 7, please stop by the Portico Books table. Encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

Back to Top

Quote of the Month: Words and War

When words fail, wars begin. When wars finally end, we settle our disputes with words.
--Wilfred Funk, U.S. publisher and writer (1883-1965)

Back to Top

Sharpen Your Vocabulary: interrobang

The American Heritage online dictionary defines interrobang as a punctuation mark comprising a question mark superimposed on an exclamation point. This poses quite a challenge on a keyboard! However, most of us have probably seen "exclamatory questions" that have the question mark and exclamation point in succession: What do you think of that?!

Use of the two marks together generally indicates an immature style. In formal writing, it is preferable to use whichever mark you deem stronger in the situation. This is often a matter of opinion.

Interrobang has a variant spelling: interabang. The original spelling seems to more accurately reflect the word's meaning.

We thank subscriber Paul Menzel, Writer/Producer for WHO-TV in Des Moines, for bringing this word to our attention.

Hands-On English includes nearly 200 morphemes, along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at

Back to Top

Q and A: Numerals or Words for Ages?

Question: What is the rule for writing out the numbers in ages, for example "8 year old," or "eight year old"? And where should there be hyphens, if any?

Answer: There is not one firm rule for this. It is important to select a number below which you will spell -- and to do so consistently. Most authorities would recommend spelling all ages of persons except in scientific and technical contexts (where you are likely to have many figures or to want to compare them).

Of course, numbers twenty-one through twenty-nine, thirty-one through thirty-nine, etc. are hyphenated.

You would also hyphenate when you have several words that combine to make an adjective: eight-year-old child. However, you would say, He is eight years old.

Other factors that affect the choice between words and numerals for numbers include the size of the number, the kind of entity it enumerates, and whether the number is approximate or exact.

Hands-On English will put a wealth of information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your order -- at

We invite your questions for this feature:

Back to Top

Play to the Angel by Maurine F. Dahlberg

A great story well told -- what more could a reader want? Play to the Angel, which takes place in Vienna in 1938, is narrated by twelve-year-old Greta Radky. Greta's older brother had been a promising concert pianist, but now that he has died, her mother is threatening to sell their piano.

Early in the novel Greta tells why the piano is so important to her: "I [played the piano] because it satisfied something inside me, the way a bowl of hot soup satisfied my stomach or a breath of fresh air satisfied my lungs. But the something it satisfied was deeper than my stomach or my lungs. It was the part of me that made me me."

Without preaching, Play to the Angel provides a powerful example of a resolute heroine pursuing a dream in the face of obstacles -- in the closing chapters, the Nazi occupation. Greta receives lessons that are valuable to any performer: On nervousness: ". . . you must give the music in you a chance to chase away the fear, instead of letting the fear chase away the music." (Do you remember chiasmus from the February 2002 LinguaPhile?) Similarly, Greta is taught about two kinds of musicians -- one, which uses music to present his skill to the world, and the other, which uses his skill to present the music.

Maurine Dahlberg's first novel, Play to the Angel has been nominated for the Mark Twain Award for 2002-2003.

Recommended for fourth grade and older.
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000, 186 pages.

Available from Play to the Angel

Back to Top


How can you remove the air from a glass that is half full of water (without losing the water that is there or breaking the glass)?

Unlike most of the puzzlers in LinguaPhile, this does not involve word play -- and it is not a trick. The solution, however, is a metaphor for dealing with life situations.

Answer next month.

Answer to December Cryptoquote


History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. --Napoleon

Back to Top

Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated monthly, is now available in either a text or .doc format on the GrammarAndMore Web site:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL of the text version?
It's a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

© 2003 Fran Santoro Hamilton


FREE Newsletters

Subscribe to LinguaPhile
Subscribe to Acu-Write

View Cart/Checkout


Package Deal!
Add to Cart

Buy Hands-On English, the Activity Book (Reproducible Edition), and Hands-On Sentences for $50.00

Hands-On English, Second Edition (Handbook)
Add to Cart

The Activity Book (Practice Pages)
Reproducible Edition:
Add to Cart

Consumable Edition:
Add to Cart

Student Workbook:
Add to Cart

Hands-On Sentences (Card Game)
Add to Cart

Wild Card from Hands-On Sentences

Hands-On Icons (Visual Aids)
Add to Cart

Icon for Compound Sentence
Email this page to a friend!

About Portico Books



View Cart/Checkout