S is for SUBORDINATE CLAUSE (Starting With SUBORDINATORS!)

S is for SUBORDINATE CLAUSE (Starting With SUBORDINATORS!)

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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? 

A subordinator is a word that falls at the beginning of a subordinate clause.

A subordinate clause has the following characteristics:

1. It is a group of words that begins with a subordinator and has a subject and verb following it.

2. It is subordinate to the rest of the sentence–that is, it is “less than” the real sentence.

3. It may not stand alone as it is not a real sentence.

4. It sounds as though something is missing when it is read--because something is (the real sentence!).

5. It 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 is 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, those are 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!


Q and A: Colons

Q and A: Colons

“Sometimes I see colons used before quotes; other times I see them used before lists. Which is correct? How do I know when a colon is the right punctuation mark?”

Just taught this yesterday to a dozen kids preparing for the SAT–and I’ll be teaching it again tomorrow to a dozen more who are preparing for the SAT. I will tell you what I told them:

1. You want to learn how to use colons. That skill will make you look smart since so few people know how to use them properly!

2. You should always have a complete sentence on the left side of the colon:

a. This means that it CAN be used following a speech tag (before your quoted words) IF the speech tag is a complete sentence:

      i. Yes: HE SPOKE WORDS OF COMFORT: “You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it.” (Words on the left of the colon could stand alone; you could place a period there, and it would be a real, complete sentence.)

    ii. No: HE SAID: “You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it.”

b. This means that it CAN be used to introduce a list IF the introduction to the list is a complete sentence:

     i. Yes: I NEED SEVERAL THINGS FROM THE STORE: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

     ii. No: I NEED TO GET: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

c. This means that it CAN be used to ask a rhetorical question IF the words preceding the colon make up a complete sentence:

  i. Yes: WE LOOKED FOR HIM EVERYWHERE: suddenly he appeared!

  ii. No: WE LOOKED AND: suddenly he appeared!

3. A colon should NEVER follow two types+ of words:

a. An action verb used as an action verb. No: SHE WANTED US TO GIVE: money, time, and household goods.

b. A preposition used as a preposition: No: SHE ASKED US TO: come early, stay late, and work non-stop.

+When a sentence ends in an action verb or a preposition, that word usually makes the sentence into a non-sentence (i.e. you can’t put a period there and call it a real sentence): She asked us to.

4. Colon use is often subjective in technical writing, such as text books, blogs (!), and other places where they are used to teach or expound upon topics in list form, etc.

A is for APPOSITIVES!

A is for APPOSITIVES!

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A is for APPOSITIVE!

We teach the appositive extensively in our writing and language arts books because it is an amazing conciseness technique–and it shows a student’s skill in handling difficult grammar concepts and punctuation challenges. Plus, it truly does help a student write more concisely!

Here is the basic of this grammar item:

1. Is a phrase that restates something else.

2. Is usually used to restate (or elaborate on) the subject (though it can be used to restate anything really.

3. Is set off with commas if it falls in the middle of the sentence. (Remember: Anything that is set off with commas should be “removable” and a complete sentence remains without it!)

4. Can be used to combine two sentences into one in short, choppy sentences.

Example:

Donna writes language arts and composition books every day.

Donna has written over fifty curriculum texts.

Donna, WHO HAS WRITTEN OVER FIFTY CURRICULUM TEXTS, writes language arts and composition books every day.

Cool, huh?






A is for APPOSITIVE

Did you know that last week’s PUNCTUATION PUZZLE had an appositive in it?

I had barely noticed her mood, HER TEMPERAMENT, when she suddenly blew up, and she began shouting and throwing things at me, which was something I was not accustomed to seeing.

Notice the following:

1. Her temperament renames the noun mood.
2. It is set off with commas surrounding it (her temperament).
3. It (along with the commas) can be removed from the sentence, and a complete sentence remains.


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 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!


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