But he got them both right! Good for him. I’ll tell you what they are after the comic. See if you can tell what they are.

Frazz Comic Strip for February 17, 2004
  • First panel—Most people would say “…wish I was.” The rule is that when you state something contrary to fact, you should use the subjunctive, which he does.
  • Second panel—He correctly used lying (progressive of “lie”) instead of the incorrect “laying.”

The humor is in whether the statements are metaphors or similes…

Frazz Comic Strip for December 29, 2003

I was lucky! The comic for the next day contains the needed definitions:

Frazz Comic Strip for December 30, 2003

the conversation continues…

Frazz Comic Strip for December 30, 2003

and more:

Frazz Comic Strip for January 01, 2004

As you can tell, Frazz is a pretty good comic for us English teachers. Go click the link below the first comic and read a few.

Well and Good


I don’t recall mentioning this grade-school point of grammar before. The difference between “well” and “good.”

  • Well—an adverb. Goes with verbs. Well done!
  • Good—an adjective. Goes with nouns. Good lesson!
  • Yes, both words can be nouns, but that’s a lesson for another day.

Okay, class, here’s a test. Did he get it correct or not? Last panel.

Edited a bit to shorten it.

What grammar rules does your native language have that make no sense?

J Beckwith, B.M. Opera & Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2011). I teach English to non-native speakers. In English there are some rules that even when I explain them, I recognize that they are completely illogical.

  1. Quantities of “0” are plural. When you have 1 of something it’s singular. “It’s one degree Celsius”

But when you have 0 of something, it’s plural. “It’s 0 degrees outside.” “I have zero questions for you.”

2. Another number rule. When we use measurements before a noun, they remain singular, even when plural. I understand the logic behind this, but it still seems like it doesn’t make too much sense.

“The trip is two hours long.” But “It’s a two-hour-long trip.”

[I have to disagree with this one. Unlike many languages, the rule in English is that adjectives just don’t show number, period. Or gender, for that matter.]

The usage is probably older than I know. The word is “compute” used as a noun. Mostly I’ve heard it in the depths of IT departments, but here’s a usage in an article intended for us normal geeks. “AV “stands for “autonomous vehicle.”

You’ll need a load of on-board compute, too. Future AVs could run on up to 500 million lines of code and produce terabytes of data daily.


Well, it is shorter than something like “computing power.”

The word is even in the diagram:

Waymo/Jaguar vehicle with labels for hardware and sensor systems
It’s over the rear wheel.

When I was younger, the prefix “mini” became popular to use with an assortment of unrelated suffixes. We had “miniskirt,” of course, but I remember “mini brain,” “minicar” and “minidress,” even “miniassignment.” My linguistics prof said that “mini” was productive.

I just ran into another word or word fragment that shows signs of becoming productive: -splain.

We have the original, “explain,” but I’ve heard “mansplain” and “mansplaining” lots of times lately. Here’s a new one:

If oilsplaining isn’t already word already, it should be, because it’s the only way I feel like I can describe this essay’s purpose.


The word is even in the title of the article.

Here’s picture of the person who wrote the article, Emily Atkin:

Productivity assumes the reader doesn’t need to get a formal definition of the new word (aka neologism) because the parts of the word are familiar.

I guess I like to be a wordsplainer.

Synecdoche (pronounced sin-EK-duh-key) is when you mention a part of something but mean the whole thing. When you compliment your buddy’s car by saying that it’s a nice set of wheels, that’s synecdoche. Here the kid refers to himself but mom is thinking of, well, read the comic.


Does it count if the cartoonist is referring to everything, but the kid isn’t?

Grammar Comic


Okay, teachers, post this on your classroom wall! In fact, if you have trouble with this word, post it on your own wall!


The only things missing here are pointing out that the simple past of “to lie” is “lay,” and the simple past of “to lay” is “laid.” And the simple past of telling a falsehood is “lied.”

A caesura is when you have insert a pause in a poem to make the meter work. Every panel except the last two has a caesura between the first and second lines. You can get the feel by inserting “and” or another one-syllable word where the caesura goes.


Okay, reader challenge: Write a four-line verse (called a quatrain, by the way) with a caesura in it. Put it in the comments.

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