Tag Archives: Comma Clues

Comma Clues #2: Comma Between Double Describers

Comma Clues #2 Use Commas to Separate Two or More Descriptive Describers

I recently had the misfortune of seeing a sign outside a chicken franchise that read hot, juicy, chicken. You can imagine my outrage!!!

It, of course, took us here at Language Lady to Comma Clues #2: Use Commas to Separate Two or More Describers (But Not Between the Describer and the Word Being Described!).

 

Two benchmarks that I teach for inserting commas between describers:

Continue reading

Comma Clues #1: Creating a Compound Sentence With a Comma-Coordinating Conjunction (,cc)

Comma Clues #1 Compound Sentence With Comma-Coordinating Conjunction

 

“Conjunction Junction—what’s your function?”

Did you start to sing along? Can you picture the images?

How old are you????? lol

Most kids today are not raised on “School House Rock,” which is such a shame! Because you really can’t forget the songs, jingles, rhymes—and dare I say—rules learned from those little ditties. (You can still find them on Youtube!)

And those little ditties are really needed when it comes to commas! Commas are a mystery to many people–and rightly so! They are extremely subjective at times across the board. And then, different handbooks and authorities stress different rules for them, making them even more elusive.

Continue reading

Comma Clue #4: Commas With Subordinate Clause Openers Part III of III

Do you remember what a subordinate clause is from yesterday? A subordinate clause is a sentence (independent clause-can stand alone) that has a subordinator added to the beginning of it (which makes it a dependent clause-is dependent upon something else in order to be used {has to have a real sentence put with it in order to be used}).

Think of subordinate clauses by either of their two names:

1. Subordinate clause–subordinate to the rest of the sentence
2. Dependent clause–dependent on something else to go with it (a real sentence/independent clause) in order to be used

Click here if you need to brush up on subordinators via our Subordinator-Check Sentence or subordinate rhyme.

Subordinate Clause Opener: Now for the opener part.

If you have been reading Language Lady for long, you have learned that a sentence opener has the following characteristics:

1.      It gives a sentence more information.

2.      It comes at the beginning of a sentence, which gives a paragraph a
different rhythm than if it included all subject-verb patterned sentences.

3.      It is often set off with a comma-again, adding to the rhythm of your
sentences.

4.      It si usually non-essential, meaning that the senence is still a
sentence without the addition of an opener.

5.      It shows advanced writing skills because a writer who has a handle
on the many varieties of sentence openers has a large toolbox of sentence structure at his disposal.

So…if a subordinate clause is a group of words that contains a subordinator+subject+verb, then a subordinate clause opener is a subordinator+subject+subordinate clause that is used as a sentence opener.

Simple enough, huh?

The tricky parts of subordinate clause openers are

(1)   Be sure that you never use a subordinate clause opener by itself,
thinking it is a sentence. (It will sound like something is missing-because it is-the real sentence!)

(2)   Be sure that you put a comma following a subordinate clause opener.

When you start a sentence with a subordinate clause, 
Put the comma in when you hear the pause!

Here are some complex sentences created with subordinate clause openers attached to “real” sentence. In grammar lingo, each one is a complex sentence because it has a dependent clause (subordinate clause) at the beginning attached to an independent clause (real sentence).

If you learn subordinators well, you may write sentences with subordinate clauses.

If you put a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence, put a comma in before writing the real sentence part.

As you learn more and more about sentence structure, your writing will improve.

Since people are impressed by good grammar and strong writing, you will become an impressive person as you learn grammar usage.

When you start a sentence with a subordinate clause, put the comma in where you hear the pause.

Although many people do not remember much about dependent and independent clauses, this does not make these clauses unimportant.

Because I want to write well, I am working on my usage skills.

Though some consider analyzing sentences as outdated, I know that it helps me write better.

If you lasted to the end of this lesson, you will be able to write well with subordinate clause openers!

COMMA CLUE #4: Comma Following a Subordinate Clause Opener Part II of III

Did you memorize subordinators, so you can write with subordinate clause openers properly? If not, you can find the post on there here.

Once you memorize subordinators, you are ready to write with subordinate clauses. Specific to this lesson, you will be ready to write subordinate clause openers (subordinate clauses that are added to the beginnings of sentences).

As far as a subordinate clause is concerned, it contains a subordinator and a subject and a verb.

Subordinator + Subject + Verb

When she drove,

As he said,

After she left,

When they arrived,

Because he smiled,

Did you notice anything about those subordinate clauses? If you noticed that each one would be a sentence if the subordinator were removed, you are correct!

A subordinate clause is a sentence (subject + verb) that has a subordinator at the beginning of it!

Sentence: She drove.
Subordinate clause:  When she drove,

Sentence: He said.
Subordinate clause: As he said,

Sentence: She left.
Subordinate clause: After she left,

Sentence: They arrived.
Subordinate clause: When they arrived,

Sentence: He smiled.
Subordinate clause: Because he smiled,

So….a subordinate clause is a sentence (independent clause-can stand
alone) that has a subordinator added to the beginning of it (which makes it a dependent clause-is dependent upon something else in order to be used {has to have a real sentence put with it in order to be used}).

Think of subordinate clauses by either of their two names:

1. Subordinate clause–subordinate to the rest of the sentence
2. Dependent clause–dependent on something else to go with it (a real sentence/independent clause) in order to be used

So….that is enough of subordinate clauses for today. In the next and final installment of this Comma Clue #4, we will attack the subordinate clause used as a sentence opener–the subordinate clause opener.

COMMA CLUE #4: Comma Following a Subordinate Clause Opener Part I of III



Today’s Comma Clue can be confusing–but it is one of the most needful for comprehension as well as for sentence fluidity when reading aloud. 



When you start a sentence with a subordinate clause,
Put the comma in when you hear the pause!



That is a cute rhyme (don’t you think?)….but unless you know what a subordinate clause is (and prior to that, what a subordinator is), it will not do you much good to recite it. So this post will go back to what subordinators are first. 

Maybe you were taught that subordinators (words that make the part of the sentence that they are in be “subordinate” to the rest of the sentence) are called other things, like conjunctives or subordinate conjunctions. Some grammar handbooks do not even classify subordinators at all but call them whatever other class they fall under (i.e. the preposition before might always be called a preposition, even though it is a subordinator when it has a subject and verb following it).

Regardless of what you were taught about subordinators, they are extremely important to good writing. Why? 

1. A subordinator is a word that falls at the beginning of a subordinate clause.
2. A subordinate clause is a group of words that begins with a subordinator and has a subject and verb following it.
3. A subordinate clause is subordinate to the rest of the sentence–that is, it is “less than” the real sentence.
4. A subordinate clause may not stand alone as it is not a real sentence.
5. A subordinate clause sounds as though something is missing when it is read–because something is (the real sentence!).
6. A subordinate clause may be joined with a complete sentence to create a complex sentence, but the subordinate clause may never stand alone.

So….what are subordinators?

Let’s start with the first six that we teach our youngest language arts students in our books:

Since, when, though
Because, if, although.

Yeah, it’s a rhyme! Cute, huh? (I love teaching!)

Anyway, for you older folks, we have a Subordinator-Check Sentence that most subordinators fit into. In a nutshell, if a word fits in the check sentence and the word is not an adverb, it likely a subordinator:

________________________ the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.


Since the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.


When the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.


Though the submarine went down, we could STILL  see it.


Because the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.


If the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.


Although the submarine went down, we could STILL see it.

Okay, that is the first six. Here is a lengthy, but not exhaustive list of subordinators:

-after (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-although
-as (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-as if
-as long as
-as soon as
-as though
-because
-because of (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-before (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-even
-even if
-even though
-if
-inasmuch as
-in order that
-lest
-now (more commonly used as an adverb)
-now since
-now that
-now when
-once
-provided
-rather than
-since
-than (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-that
-though
-til (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-unless
-until (also a preposition when it just has an object following it)
-when
-whenever
-where
-where ever
-where as
-whether
-which
-which ever
-while
-who
-whoever
-why


In as much as the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.

Until the submarine went down, we could STILL see it.

While the submarine went down, we could no longer see it.



 We will stop here and give you time to memorize these before we go on in a day or two working on punctuating sentences that begin with subordinate clauses. Just looking at the Subordinator-Check Sentence, though, you can probably deduce that the first rhyme in this post is accurate: a subordinate clause opener is followed by a comma. More later!


Picture from http://staff.jccc.net/mfitzpat/style/bd04892_.gif




PUNCTUATION PUZZLE: Commas and Periods With Quotation Marks

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! Smile…

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

Okay….are you ready?

Proper punctuation of that sentence is as follows:

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



Here is why the punctuation is the way it is:

1. “Baby Games” is the title of a magazine article; an article is a minor work (a work within a work–in this case, an article within a magazine). Minor works are shown by surrounding the title in quotation marks.

                           I read the magazine article titled “Baby Games,”



2. You need a comma before the AND because this sentence is a compound sentence (Complete Sentence {CS}, and Complete Sentence {CS}). One way you can combine two sentences into one to create a compound sentence is to use a comma-coordinating conjunction (,cc–,for/,and/,nor/,but/,or/,yet/,so). Always test to see if you are really creating a compound by reading each “half” of the sentence by itself–and ask yourself if it could stand alone.

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

3.  In the US, a comma ALWAYS goes inside a closing quotation mark (whether it is part of the quoted material or not). (This is not the case in British writings.)

                         “Baby Games,”



4. “Baby Showers” is the title of an encyclopedia essay; an essay is a minor work (a work within a work–in this case, an essay within an encyclopedia). Minor works are shown by surrounding the title in quotation marks.

                    “Baby Showers.”




5.  In the US, a period ALWAYS goes inside a closing quotation mark (whether it is part of the quoted material or not). (This is not the case in British writings.)

                      “Baby Showers.”

*Picture from http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/jigsaw-puzzle-punctuation-marks-28310853.jpg

Comma Clue: Subordinate Clauses (Preview!)

               Comma Clues!!!                  

Tomorrow’s COMMA CLUE is going to be about subordinate clause openers…so I’ll leave you with this little jingle to sing to yourself if you have insomnia tonight (instead of counting sheep!):

When you start a sentence with a subordinate clause,
Put the comma in when you hear the pause!

And then my sweet middle school students, knowing my love for the ballroom, all rise up from their seats and shout “CHA CHA” at the end of it…I have the greatest students! 🙂

COMMA CLUES #3: Greeting and Closing of Letter

Today’s Comma Clues post was actually supposed to be up yesterday–in case you were writing a love letter in honor of Valentine’s Day!! If you are still in the middle of penning a love note for that special someone, be sure to follow these two comma rules–with a freebie capitalization rule thrown in as a, well, Valentine’s Day gift!

This information could be more valuable to you than you might think: I just read that a new survey shows that following “teeth,” grammar is the next benchmark that would-be daters use in evaluating potential mates on dating sites. So study this thoroughly before you write that letter! Smile…

Comma Clues #3: A comma should follow the greeting (salutation) and closing of a letter.

Dear Ray Baby, 

All my love,

I have to leave you with a few tips:

1. This rule applies to the “friendly” letter–which I assume your love letter will be.

2. Never use a colon following a greeting in a friendly letter. The colon should only follow a greeting in a business letter.

3. Always capitalize all major words in a greeting of a letter. In this way, think of it as a title and capitalize accordingly. 

a. Dear Friend and Colleague (no cap for and)
b. Dear First True Love

4. Only capitalize the first word in the closing of a letter (except for proper nouns in it, of course).

a. Sincerely yours,
b. All my love,

So…go write that love letter with confidence. And be sure to flash those pearly whites when you actually meet!

Punctuation Puzzle: Compound With Semicolon (GWC)

Are you ready for another Punctuation Puzzle?

George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life because of this he became successful in everything he did.


1. There are two complete sentences (CS) here:
            a. George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life.
            b. Because of this he became successful in everything he did.

2. Because there are two complete sentences (CS) there, I would place a semicolon between the two (though you could put a period and capitalize the second half and have two separate sentences, if desired).

         George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life; because of this he became successful in everything he did.


3. When you have a compound sentence, you have to treat each sentence separately in terms of its punctuation. Thus, you need to examine the first half of the sentence (the first “real” sentence of the compound sentence) to see if it needs any other punctuation. Then you must do the same with the second half.
              a. George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life. (NO punctuation needed within first half)
              b. Because of this,  he became successful in everything he did.(I WOULD place a comma following the short prepositional phrase [PP] opener “Because of this” simply because I hear a pause following it. {The rules for commas following short PP openers are subjective and usually based on voice inflection or clarity achieved by the use of a comma. We teach liberal comma use following sentence openers in our programs.})


4. Thus, my final verdict on punctuating this compound and slightly complex sentence is as follows:

 George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life; because of this, he became successful in everything he did.


Punctuation really is a puzzle, isn’t it? Smile…


Little addendum to yesterday’s PUNCTUATION PUZZLE:

George Washington Carver had a driving force for knowledge that would reside within him for the rest of his life; because of this, he became successful in everything he did.

1. One of the only uses for semicolons is to create a compound sentence (without having to use a coordinating conjunction For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So–FANBOYS–since these words may give additional meaning).

2. Benchmark for creating compound—are the two halves of the sentence extremely linked? In the case above, they are so intertwined that they actually form a cause and effect of sorts. Closely linked sentences are good candidates for creating compound sentences.

Have a prolific day, Language Lady friends!

Comma Clues #2: Use Commas to Separate Two or More Describers

I recently had the misfortune of seeing a sign outside a chicken franchise that read hot, juicy, chicken. You can imagine my outrage!!! It, of course, took us here at Language Lady to Comma Clues #2: Use Commas to Separate Two or More Describers (But Not Between the Describer and the Word Being Described!).

I was thrilled to find the image above to instruct you in the commas-with-describers rule because those two benchmarks are the ones that I teach in my grammar books:

1. If you can reverse the order of the words that you are placing a comma between, and the phrase still makes sense, use a comma:

a. She had on that bright, beautiful dress. (She had on that beautiful, bright dress—YES…comma is needed.)

b. She had on that, bright dress. (She had on bright that dress–NO…comma is not needed.)

2. If you can put an AND in between the two words you are placing a comma between, and the phrase still makes sense, use a comma:

a. She had on that bright, beautiful dress. (She had on that bright and beautiful dress—YES…comma is needed.)

b. She on that, bright dress. (She had on that and bright dress—NO…comma is not needed.)

For those who like technical explanations, we teach that commas go between DESCRIPTIVE adjectivest (bright, beautiful) but not between CLARIFYING adjectives (that, five, this–which are usually called something else anyway, like pronouns, etc.).

More on comma before the and in a series of three or more (bright, beautiful, and colorful dress) in Comma Clues #3! Have a lovely, grammatically-correct day!

Save