The Grammar of Cheese

Still Life with Fruit, Bread and Cheese, 1613
(Oil on canvas, 49,1 x 77,4 cm)
BY Floris Claesz van Dijck
Frans Hals Museum

There is only one way to teach grammar.

Compound sentence:
I drink milk, and I eat cheese.
Complex sentence:
When I eat cheese, I experience bliss.

A colon between two sentences, the first of which is an anticipatory statement:

There is one fact of which I am sure: I love cheese.

A semicolon between items in a list with internal commas:

I love cheddar cheese, a reliable sandwich standby; soft goat cheese, which is simple, yet piquant and rare; Montasio cheese, made with the well-washed curds of both goat and cow milk; and finally, Brie cheese, which is a guilty pleasure on a soft cracker eaten with thin, red, sweet apple slices and a cold glass of white wine.

An independent clause, which is a sentence, has a subject, a verb, and a complete thought:

I (subject) eat (verb) cheese (an object). You see the subject — I — does the action, the verb — eat — is the action, and the object — CHEESE — receives the action.

Yes. Yes. Yes. That is a lovely, lovely thing.

A subordinate clause has a subject and a verb, but no complete thought:
When I eat cheese…

Clearly not a complete thought. We know something more is bound to happen. There is always a passing effect after the delectation of cheese, of pleasure, almost pain that life is so short, so calm, such a gift. Like the gift of cheese from the humble cow, the humble cow with the sweet breath of alfalfa. You can smell them as their broad noses wet your hand when you gingerly offer an apple off your palm.

Here are two sentences. Which sentence is more important?

1) I saw a beautiful white and crumbly English cheese infused with port.
2) I went to the store.

Yes, number one is more important, especially when eaten with grapes, plucked from the vine on a hot day in the very center of summer.

The second sentence can be turned into a subordinate clause:

When I went to the store, I saw a white and crumbly cheese infused with port.

Much better. Very beautiful.

That is today’s grammar lesson: participial phases, prepositional phrases, appositives, Gouda, and Lappi…

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