Let’s start February’s Grammar Guardian by checking the answers to last month’s quiz:

1. There are seven days in a week. (You never say “Their are.”)

2. Their mom works at HEB. (Mom belongs to two or more children.)

3. They’re going to the mall after school Tuesday. (they are)

4. Do you think they’re having fun? (they are)

5. Why didn’t you go to their Christmas party? (Two or more individuals’ party.)

Each answer is worth 20 points. Did you get a 100? If not, keep practicing, and you’ll be a Grammar Guardian before you know it.

I’m always amazed when students tell me they’ve had teachers who tell them you can NEVER begin a sentence with “Because.” This is simply not true. The problem is that many people don’t know how. We must understand that the word “because” is dependent. This being February, let’s look at a couple of love-filled sentences:

1. Joanna is smiling because cupid sent her the man of her dreams.

When asked to use a complete sentence to answer the question, “Why is Joanna smiling?” many will say or write, “Because Cupid sent her the man of her dreams.” This is an incomplete sentence. While you can begin a sentence with “Because,” you have to know how to do it correctly. A complete sentence would look like this: Because Cupid sent her the man of her dreams, Joanna is smiling. The first part of the sentence is dependent on the second part of the sentence to make it complete. Let’s try one more.

2. Luis ate too much Valentine’s candy. He feels sick.

If I ask, “Why is Luis sick?” and you want to begin the sentence with “Because,” how would you do it? I hope you responded, “Because he ate too much Valentine’s candy, Luis is sick.” Don’t forget the comma.

One reader asked me for clarification on “Mc” versus “Mac” when pronouncing words like McDonald’s and McAllen. I learned that “Mc” is an abbreviated form of “Mac” in Scottish/Irish Gaelic surnames. Originally, “Mac” was added to the name of the father, such as MacPatrick, meaning “the son of Patrick.” Later “Mac” was added to the profession of the father to indicate, for example, “son of the bard.” (The word “bard” reminded me of the tradition of mariachis serenading loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Therefore, if Mark’s dad is a member of a mariachi group, following this tradition, his name would be Mark MacMariachi.)

This month’s quiz will focus on the homonyms/homophones “to” and “too.” There is an additional member of their group, “two,” but because this one rarely causes confusion, we won’t spend our time on it. (Did you catch that proper use of “because”?) Here’s your quiz for the month of February:

1. We are going to/too the Valentine’s Dance in Downtown McAllen.

2. Do you think your husband is going to/too buy you a romantic card for Valentine’s Day?

3. Billy couldn’t get his backpack closed because he had to/too many valentines in it.

4. Celia wanted to/too go to/too dinner with her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day, but she was to/too tired.

5. It is time to/too end this column. I want to/too wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy rest of the month, to/too.

Send email to Chris at cardis1022@aol.com.