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:


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.


S is for SUBORDINATE CLAUSE—Phrases and Clauses

S is for SUBORDINATE CLAUSE—Phrases and Clauses

Image from languagearts.ppst.com

We talked about PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES when we did the letter P a while ago. Now we are going to move into S–SUBORDINATE CLAUSES.

We have talked at length about what a sentence contains:

C apital

A ll makes sense

V erb

E nd mark

S ubject


Again, most people have trouble witht the A one–All makes sense. When a “sentence” doesn’t make sense, it is often because it is not a sentence at all, but it is a phrase or a clause.

We are going to talk in detail about phrases and clauses in the upcoming weeks because we are going to talk a lot about sentence structure–openers, simple sentences, compound sentences, etc.

So…a little “phrase and clause” lesson is in order first:

1. Phrase–

a. Group of words

b. Group of words that is not a sentence

c. Group of words that is not a sentence and does not usually contain a subject and a verb (though may seem to have one or the other)

d. There are various types of phrases–the one that people are most familiar with is the prepositional phrase–begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition:
      i. over the clouds
     ii. into the clouds
    iii. around the clouds
   iv. within the clouds
    v. under the clouds

2. Clause

a. Group of words

b. Group of words that might or might not be a sentence

c. Group of words that contains a subject and a verb

d. Two kinds of clauses

     i. Independent clause–also called a sentence

     ii. Dependent clause–also called a subordinate clause

Don’t despair! These are not as complicated as they sound! You write with them all the time–but I hope to help you recognize them and punctuate them correctly in sentences–over the next few weeks!

Happy writing!

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

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!

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