The electronic toolbox for grammar instruction, "Grammar Gallery, " suggests that Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to delve into the nuances of verb tenses because:
• "He is cutting the turkey" is an example of the use of the present progressive tense, which expresses "an action or condition that is continuing to occur."
• "He cooks on Thanksgiving" is an example of the simple present, the verb tense that expresses "a habitual action, a general truth, or an action/condition occurring in the present time."
• "He is going to serve the turkey to his family" exemplifies "the simple future, which refers an action or condition that is yet to occur."
• "He was cutting the turkey when the doorbell rang," is an example of "the past progressive, which is the proper verb tense for an action or condition that was ongoing in the past, especially when something else was happening."
• "He cooked the turkey for five hours" illustrates "simple past tense, an action or event that began and ended in the past."
• "He has prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner" is a perfect example of "the present perfect, the verb tense for "an action that has occurred up to and including the present time, a past action with current relevance, or an action that was recently completed."
The podcaster Grammar Girl finds that Thanksgiving inspires her in a different grammatical direction. She says, "I like to think of [Thanksgiving] as a happy Gerund Appreciation Day. What better time to appreciate the English gerund than on a day that has been singled out for giving thanks, and whose name is a gerund—Thanksgiving?"
Grammar Girl goes on to explain that "a gerund is a noun formed by taking a verb and adding the suffix ‘-ing.’ The gerund form of ‘give,’ for example, is ‘giving.’" She then offers examples of compound nouns that include gerunds (bomb-defusing, for one) along with the observation that often as not there’s a singular noun in the compound that isn’t logical since it’s referring to a plurality. Her explanation as to why is that "the rule for compound nouns in English: the noun that modifies the other noun is usually in the singular." But, "One exception that comes to mind is ‘Thanksgiving: We don’t call it ‘Thank-giving.’"
Another grammar-oriented blog, the Grammar Hammer, is inspired by Thanksgiving’s potential to illuminate the differences between affect and effect. The Hammer asks: "How does Thanksgiving effect you? Or does it affect you?"
The answer is that "Most of the time, use affect (with an A) as a verb, and use effect (with an E) as a noun." That means "Turkey can affect your ability to stay awake, especially when your Great Aunt Gertrude is making another one of her 20-minute toasts to our founding fathers." And since "Effect with an E is a noun with multiple definitions, but it basically means "as a result," then, "The cranberry sauce and gravy had no effect on the dryness of the turkey."."