Punctuation Puzzle – Plural Nouns and Passed-Past Confusion With Cinderella

By Zac Kieser & Donna Reish

 

He passed the test or He past the test? Go passed the house or Go past the house? Passed and past are super confusing–as evidenced in social media every where. It’s not just students who have trouble with this confusing word pair!

Zac has a great puzzle below highlighting these confusing words in two different spots. I have tricks! Yep, Language Lady always has tricks! So here you go:

1) The first thing I tell students is that PASS is the verb. It is the current tense. We never say Today I PAST the test. PASS is the verb.

 

2) Next, I ask them if we were trying to make PAST the verb, what would happen to it if we added an ED to make it past tense (no pun intended!). I love doing this because they look at each other and say aloud what it could be: PASS-TED? Then I tell them to write PAST on their paper and add ED to it. In unison, they say PAY/STED! This further cements the fact that PAST is NOT the verb! PAST with ED has nothing to do with PASSING—it has to do with PASTING–as in gluing….PASTED!

 

3) Then I remind them of their Preposition Practice Pal and/or Preposition Check Sentences: Birdie flew PAST the tube or The angel flew PAST the cloud. Yep. PAST is a preposition.

 

4) Of course, I remind them that some prepositions are also adverbs (when they don’t have objects following them): The butterfly flew PAST. (Where did the butterfly fly? PAST.) I remind them that this is rare, and they don’t have to worry about it too much if they remember that PASS is the verb and PAST is usually a preposition.

 

5) Another trick I use is to point out that PAST ends with a T….. and THE begins with a T. Then I write on my board (or have them highlight it in their lesson where it is written): pasT The barn; pasT The school; pasT The park, etc. This further cements the fact that past is the preposition, not the verb.

 

6) I also re- remind (is that a thing?) students that a verb is made past tense with ED added, not T….so PASSED will always be the past tense verb and PAST will never be a verb.

 

7) For older kids, I give examples of all of the parts of speech that PAST can be–again pointing out that it is never PASS in these instances since PASS is a verb:

a. Preposition: They drove PAST the gate
b. Adjective: He is the PAST president.
c. Adverb: He flew PAST.
d. Noun: Let’s leave that in the PAST.

 

8) Older students can also grasp the concept that if there is another MOVEMENT verb in the sentence, you want the word PAST with it: We DROVE past the park. However, if there is not another movement verb in the sentence, you want the VERB PASSED: We PASSED the garage.

 

So there you have it–some tricks, some tips….and you are ready to solve Zac’s Punctuation Puzzle below…with our favorite peasant girl, Cinderella!

 

THIS WEEK’S PUNCTUATION PUZZLE:

 

Despite the prince’s crys, Cinderella ran passed the palace gates and into the forest. When the prince questioned the guardes, they told him only a poor peasant women had past through the palace gates.

 

The answer?

Despite the prince’s cries, Cinderella ran past the palace gates and into the forest. When the prince questioned the guards, they told him only a poor peasant woman had passed through the palace gates.

 

Plural Nouns

1. We have a total of five problems in our example sentences, but three of them deal with plural nouns. Plural nouns are nouns that show more than one person, place, thing, or idea.

 

2. Plural nouns are tricky because the form of the noun has to be changed in a different way depending on the noun.

 

3. Let’s check out some of the different ways nouns are made plural:

i. Some nouns change their spelling entirely: foot—feet, mouse–mice

ii. Some nouns do not change at all: deer—deer, fish—fish

iii. The ending es is added to nouns ending in sh, z, ch, x, or s: dish–dishes, whizz–whizzes, search–searches, tax–taxes, dress—dresses

iv. Nouns ending in y have two rules:

a. Add s to a word ending in a vowel + y: joy—joys

b. Change the y to I and add es when the word ends in a consonant + y: sky—skies

v. Nouns ending in o have three rules:

a. Add es to a word ending in a consonant + o (as long as it is not a music related word): potato—potatoes

b. Add s to a word ending in a vowel + o: patio—patios

c. Add s to any word that ends in o and is a music word: soprano–sopranos

vi. Change the f to v and add es for most nouns that end in f

a. Half—halves

b. Exception: roof–roofs

vii. If none of these rules apply, just add s to the word

 

4. Now, let’s apply these rules to our sentences:

Despite the prince’s crys, Cinderella ran passed the palace gates and into the forest. When the prince questioned the guards, they told him only a poor peasant women had past through the palace gates.

 

5. The word cry is a singular noun that ends in a consonant + y (iv., b.), so the y is changed to I and we add es, giving us: cries

 

6. The word guard is a singular noun that does not fall under any of these rules (vii.), so we only add s, leaving us with guards

 

7. The word women is a plural noun, but we are only talking about one woman (Cinderella). So, we need to change this to its singular form. Women falls under i., meaning its spelling changes. The spelling change for women to move it to singular is woman

 

Despite the prince’s cries, Cinderella ran passed the palace gates and into the forest. When the prince questioned the guards, they told him only a poor peasant woman had past through the palace gates.

 

Passed-Past Confusion

1. Our two other problems in the sentence are a result of confusion between the words passed and past. These words are homophones, meaning they sound the same, but they are spelled differently and mean different things.

 

2. Passed is a form of the verb pass, and it is used to show two actions:

i. When a subject has succeeded in something: He passed the test.

ii. When a subject moves around something: She passed the house.

 

3. Past is an adverb that means by or beside or a preposition that shows where something is in relation to something else.

 

Examples:

Her house was just past the city gate. (past is used as a preposition.)

He sprinted past the house. (past is used as an adverb).

 

4. Now, in our sentences, in the first case we have Cinderella ran passed the palace gates and into the forest. Here, passed needs to be changed to past since we are talking where Cinderella was running in relation to the palace gates. That is what the word past does.

 

5. In our second case, only a poor peasant woman had past through the palace gates, we are describing Cinderella’s action, not where she is in relation to the gates. Therefore, we need to change past to passed.

 

6. So, our final sentence reads…

Despite the prince’s cries, Cinderella ran past the palace gates and into the forest. When the prince questioned the guards, they told him only a poor peasant woman had passed through the palace gates.

 

Today’s Punctuation Puzzle sentence comes from a student writing assignment found in the Cinderella Twice-Told Tale.

Punctuation Puzzle: Proper Nouns and Quotations with Pinocchio

 

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 – Prepositional Phrases and Commas With Dumbo

By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser

 

Comma rules are super subjective. As a matter of fact, I tell my upper high schoolers that commas following sentence openers will generally not be the errors in SAT/ACT/PSAT testing sentences. These rules are that subjective! I hear and recognize all of the commas in Zac’s examples in this week’s Punctuation Puzzle. So even though these rules are subjective, we have to have some guidelines to follow, or students will not learn to put commas in anywhere!

 

I follow an important sequence in teaching prepositions to students (one that anyone can use whether you use my materials or not):

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Punctuation Puzzle – Raise/Rise and Indirect Quotations With Cinderella

 

Zac and Cinderella do a great job explaining the RISE and RAISE problems in today’s puzzle. But RISE and RAISE cannot be taught alone—so Zac has prepared two more Punctuation Puzzles scheduled to follow this one about those similar confusing word pairs—Set/Sit and Lay/Lie.

I will leave you without a couple of teaching tips—and I will drip more teaching tips in the next two weeks of confusing word puzzles. There are some definite ways, phrasing, and order to help with these difficult concepts, and our students deserve the very easiest way to learn complex topics such as these:

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Punctuation Puzzle – Colons With Belle & Beast

 
 By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser
 
 

Colons are seriously hard! If people use them at all, they often use them wrong. Generally speaking, people use colons following a speech tag in two instances (both of which are incorrect):

a. Following any speech tag— Donna said: “This is how you use colons.”

b. Following a long speech tag (they automatically think a long speech tag warrants a colon following it)— Donna, while teaching ten high school boys in mid-May, said: “This is how you use colons.”

Here’s some of the scoop before Zac gives you a run for your money with his colon puzzle! 🙂

 

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Punctuation Puzzle – Introductory Material and Commas With Peter Pan

By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser

 

Amazing Punctuation Puzzle this week! And not just because it is about a favorite attraction of mine at Disney World. (Btw, 267 days til our next family Disney trip!) Zac does an amazing job explaining sentence openers and comma use……but here is a Teacher Tip that I have been facing a lot lately: Students will never get a good handle on sentence openers (also called introductory material or non-essential information at the beginning of a sentence) UNTIL they have a handle on what a sentence contains.

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Punctuation Puzzle – Capitalization & Items in a Series With Alice in Wonderland

By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser

 

This week’s Punctuation Puzzle has to do with capitalizing references to people and commas with a series of three or more. The latter causes much confusion (and is covered, in part, in a recent LL slideshow, “5 Tips for Coordinating Conjunctions”). Moreover, the series of three or more is further confused with the great Oxford Comma debate.

 

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Punctuation Puzzle: Homophones and Parentheses

 

by Zac Kieser & Donna Reish

“Homophones. Homophones. Homophones. Homophones!” Did you sing along with the old Veggie Tales song? I have never seen a Veggie Tale video, and I can even sing that! (Along with “Where Is My Hair Brush?”) The song is catchy, but the homophones are often not! They can be downright tricky at times! And then there’s parentheses (unrelated to homophones…well, not really…read on!), but tricky nonetheless.

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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 With Snow White

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!)

So what does incremental quotation teaching look like? Here are some suggestions (though don’t let these ideas keep you from working through this week’s puzzle! ? ):

  1. Simple sentence quotation with BEGINNING speech tag: She said, “Let me take a bite of the apple.”
    i. Beginning speech tag quotes do not bring the question of comma or period inside the closing quote.
    ii. That makes this the simplest form to start with.

 

2. Simple sentence quotation with ENDING speech tag: “Let me take a bite of the apple,” she said.
  i. This gets way more complicated! You have to deal with the comma inside the closing quotation mark AND the lower case letter for the   ending speech tag.
  ii. Be sure to keep all sentences as SIMPLE sentences (subject-verb-object—avoid sentence openers AND compounds in beginning quotation teaching).

 

3. Advanced sentence quotation with either beginning speech tag or ending speech tag: She said, “Let me take a bite of the apple, for I know I will like it.”
  i. Do this only after the ones above are mastered.
  ii. Don’t expect students to punctuate quotations with advanced sentence structures correctly if they are unable to punctuate the advanced sentence structures correctly when not in a quote.

 

4. Single quotes within double quotes
  i. Teach this important rule from elementary on: Single quotes are ONLY used within quotes—never by themselves. (People often think single quotes are for “shorter” info—no true! They are only for use inside double quotes.)
  ii. This level of quote writing takes a LONG time to teach with lots of practice.

 

5. Split quotes
  i. Very hard (see below!). Should be used only when the other skills are cemented.
  ii. Start with this mantra: A quote only qualifies to be used as a split quote if you can cover the speech tag—and the remaining words are one sentence only. (This assumes a thorough understanding of what a real, complete sentence contains.)

 

For more quotation teaching help (besides Zac’s amazing puzzle below!), check out a recent blog post and video here )

(And check out the Tricky Trick sheet that goes with quotation teaching here)

 

 

PUNCTUATION PUZZLE:

 

“If you believe it is poisoned,” the elderly lady replied. “Let me take a bite to assure you it is not.”

 

The answer?

“If you believe it is poisoned,” the elderly lady replied, “let me take a bite to assure you it is not.”

 

Split Quotations

 

1. The errors in this puzzle all have to do with a concept called split quotations. A split quotation is a quotation that has a speech tag in the middle. This contrasts with a speech tag at the beginning or end of a quotation. Check out the following examples:

The friendly lady pleaded, “Allow me to give you this apple.” (speech tag at the beginning)

“Allow me to give you this apple,” the friendly lady pleaded. (speech tag at the end)

“Allow me,” the friendly lady pleaded, “to give you this apple.” (speech tag in the middle)

 

2. Split quotations can be tricky to punctuate. There are two rules we have to follow.

a. First, we have to use two commas.

b. The first comma comes after the first part of the quote, but inside the quotation marks.

“Allow me,” the friendly lady pleaded, “to give you this apple.”

c. The second comma comes after the speech tag, but before the rest of the quotation.

“Allow me,” the friendly lady pleaded, “to give you this apple.”

 

3. The second rule you we have to follow is not capitalizing the first letter of the second half of the quotation.

“Allow me,” the friendly lady pleaded, “to give you this apple.”

We have to do this in order to show that the second part of the quotation is still a part of the previous sentence, not a new, complete sentence by itself.

 

4. This leads us to an important item: not everything that looks like a split quotation is a split quotation. We have to be careful to not apply the split quotation rules until we know we have a split quotation.

 

5. The key to identifying a split quotation is identifying whether the quotation is two separate sentences or one complete sentence. If the quotation is one complete sentence it is a split quotation. Let’s look at some examples:

i. “Do not let anyone in,” the dwarves warned. “The queen is devious.”

ii. This quote contains two separate sentences; a.) Do not let anyone in. and b.) the queen is devious.

iii. Therefore, it is not a split quote and should have a period, not a comma after the speech tag. It should also have a capital letter at the beginning of the second part of the quotation, since this section is a complete sentence.

 

6. Check out this second example:

i. “I promise not to let anyone in,” Snow White answered, “even if they appear friendly.”

ii. This quote contains one complete sentence along with a dependent clause. I promise not to let anyone in is a complete sentence while even if they appear friendly is a dependent clause, not a complete sentence.

iii. Therefore, all the rules of split quotations do apply to this sentence.

 

Now let’s return to our original problem sentence:

i. “If you believe it is poisoned,” the elderly lady replied. “Let me take a bite to assure you it is not.”

ii. Is this sentence a split quotation or not? (Is it two separate sentences or one complete sentence?)

iii. We can see that our problem sentence is one complete sentence. Let me take a bite to assure you it is not is a complete sentence, but If you believe it is poisoned is a subordinate clause, not a complete sentence.

iv. Therefore, the rules of split quotations apply to this sentence.

v. Adding a comma after the speech tag and capitalizing the first letter (l) in the second part of the quotation, we end up with this:

“If you believe it is poisoned,” the elderly lady replied, “let me take a bite to assure you it is not.”

 

Today’s Punctuation Puzzle sentence comes from a student writing assignment found in the Snow White Twice-Told Tale, a downloadable Really Writing product that will be available in January 2018. Check out other Really Writing products here.

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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Punctuation Puzzle: Commas with Interjections and Adjectives

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Today’s Punctuation Puzzle brings to light an important comma rule that is not readily known. Commas are super subjective and thus challenging to write with. So whenever we can have a fairly fool-proof trick (or tricks in this week’s puzzle!) up our sleeve to make the comma insertion easier, we want to do it. (This is especially true in teaching English to our students—let’s make every trick, tip, mnemonic, song, rhyme, jingle, rap, and check sentence that we possibly can for our wonderful students! (See more of these in the Think Fast Grammar Quiz downloadable product available at Character Ink Store and in the Members Area of this blog!)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Subordinate Clause and Possessive Nouns

Punctuation Puzzle: Subordinate Clause and Possessive Nouns

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Welcome to another exciting episode of Punctuation Puzzle! 🙂 I am having so much fun creating these with my writing assistant, Zac Kieser. Grammar and usage can be super confusing—and these puzzles are a great way to learn with the steps and reasons broken down for you. (Kind of like our Editor Duty assignments in Character Quality Language Arts!) Don’t forget to do them with your students—and feel free to forward to a friend who might need a little Language Lady in their life! 😉

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Punctuation Puzzle: Appositives and Subject-Verb Agreement

Punctuation Puzzle: Appositives and Subject-Verb Agreement

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

My writing assistant, Zachary Kieser, and I are having so much fun coming up with these Punctuation Puzzles! They are interesting ways to brush up on grammar and usage skills that you might be rusty on—and great for junior high and high school students to do with you since the answers are explained thoroughly. Add this to your school day for more learning fun with your kids!

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Punctuation Puzzle: Led vs. Lead & Alot vs. A lot

Punctuation Puzzle: Led vs. Lead, Alot vs A Lot

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Today we have a PUNCTUATION PUZZLE—plus a couple of other errors for you to find!

 

The shepherd lead them to the brook and they drank alot, because they were very, hot, and thirsty.

 

Here is the answer with an explanation for each aspect below:

The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot because they were very hot and thirsty.

 

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Punctuation Puzzle: Commas and Periods in Quotes

Punctuation Puzzle: Commas and Periods in Quotes

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Okay…here is another Punctuation Puzzle for you to solve! Try to figure out where punctuation marks should go–before you look below at the answers/explanations!  🙂

 

I read the magazine article titled “Baby Games” and I read an encyclopedia essay called “Baby Showers”

 

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Punctuation Puzzle: George Washington Carver—Compound Sentences!

Punctuation Puzzle: George Washington Carver—Compound Sentences!

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

I’m bringing back the Punctuation Puzzle! Many readers said they enjoyed these puzzles….so I will be bringing you one each week. (I love them too!)

For your Character Ink Cottage Class kids and others with upper level students, do these with them! They will be so good for their grammar and usage skill development!

 

Here’s the Puzzle:

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