Punctuation Puzzle: Compound Possessive Nouns and Pronouns

 

By Zac Kieser & Donna Reish

 

Compound possessives! They are incredibly tricky! Zac does a great job teaching them in this week’s Punctuation Puzzle, but I am going to give you three “Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick” right up front about possessives (a little cheat sheet before the test!):

 

1) When two nouns possess the same thing, only the noun closest to the “possessed” object needs to show possession.

2) When a noun and pronoun both possess something, use a possessive pronoun and show possession to the noun (both).

 

But the most important tricky trick of all is one that is taught incorrectly in many sources and handbooks.

The placement of an apostrophe to show possession is based on whether the word ends in S or not—not whether the word is plural!

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Punctuation Puzzle: Split Quotations

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

If you want to show off in your writing, use a quotation properly. If you want to REALLY show off in your writing, use a split quote properly. Okay, maybe only one to three percent of the people reading your writing will know that your split quote has been written correctly, but YOU will know (and I will know if I see it!), so that counts for something, right? In my books, I teach quotes in an incremental fashion. (This is super important. I just saw a copy work assignment for third graders that contained a split quote {done incorrectly, but still}! Copy work for a third grader should contain very few quotes—and preferably only simple quotes with beginning speech tags at first!)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Proper Nouns and Quotations

 

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Oh, proper nouns and quotations. Where do I start to explain the myriad of difficulties that students (and adults!) have with these. Am I starting to sound more like Lamenting Lady than Language Lady in the openings to these Punctuation Puzzles? If so, I am sorry! When you have taught fifty to one hundred students (in second through twelfth grades) English/language arts every semester for nearly twenty years (and you write books and products for them literally every year for nearly two decades as well), you just start to really feel sorry for these precious people who have to navigate the grammar waters with all of its exceptions and varying rules. (Sympathetic, she is!?)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Degrees of Comparison and Commas

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Two of my least favorite things to teach: direct/indirect objects (and predicate nominatives) AND degrees of comparison. (Okay, maybe that is like my four least favorite things to teach!) The first ones (direct/indirect/pn) are just soooo complicated (and they can’t just be skipped or I end up with students who write She gave Sara, Joe, and he a letter….agghh…..). And the latter—degrees of comparison—soooo subjective and vague! Poor students!

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Punctuation Puzzle: Pronoun Cases and Negative Words

By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser

Subjective. Objective. Big words (as many grammar terms are—adjectival clause or appositive, anyone?) to teach to young student. And yet, even young students need to know when to use he and him—less they end up saying, “Him took my toy” into adulthood! Like everything else I teach, I start out with what students already know. (I even say to them repeatedly, “You know more than you think you know!” Then I proceed to have them tell me what they DO know about the topic.)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Commas with Adverb Openers and Which Clauses at End of Sentence

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Since it is the first of September, I assume that you have started school (or maybe Tuesday after Labor Day?) and are having review of many of last year’s concepts. And part of that might be comma review. I have a love-hate relationship with commas (though mostly love!). I love what they do for clarity, sentence rhythm, and reading aloud. (I read aloud to my kids for two to four hours a day for almost thirty years—commas become very important to the reader with that much reading aloud!) The hate part (though I guess that is a strong word for someone who loves grammar and language arts as much as I do!) is how subjective they are. This makes commas especially challenging for students to learn (and for teachers to teach!).

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