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




day 99: lie and lay

Sit and rise have I’s–and lie does too.
“Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.
Here we are at the end of our Wacky Word pair—lie and lay.
Remember these lie and lay tips:
  1. Lie has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
    1. I lie in bed at wide awake.
    2. Yesterday I lay awake half the night.
    3. Before that I had lain down when the cat jumped on me.
  1. Lie means to stretch out in a flat position—anybody or anything can lie, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT laid)
    1. She lies down with a headache every day.
    2. The sun is lying low.
    3. She has lain down for a nap.
  1. Lay must have an object following it—something that it is being laid down.
    1. Lay your book on the table.
    2. He laid his money down.
    3. She has laid the towels in the sun.
Okay…the tenses for the three:
1. Lie
            a. Base form: lie—Tomorrow I will lie down early. (Remember—no object; down is an adverb; early is an adverb here, not an object.
            b. Past simple: lay—Yesterday I lay in the sun. (Tricky part: past tense of lie is lay; lay is also the present tense of lay—to lay something down!)
            b. Past participle: lain—They have lain low ever since then.
            d. Third person singular: lies—The dog just lies under the tree all day long.
            e. Present participle/gerund: lying—The sun was lying on the horizon for so long today.
2. Lay
        1. Base form: lay—I lay the kids’ clothes out every day. (Tricky: lay is the base form of lay (to put something down; it is also the past tense of lie—to stretch out by yourself or itself.)
        2. Past simple: laid—Yesterday I laid the pink pants out for Jon.
        3. Past participle: laid—Before the dog came in, I had already laid his bones out.
        4. Third person singular: lays—He lays the book down every night at ten.
        5. Present participle/gerund: laying—I am laying the swim suits out to dry.
Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick
  1. Again, do sit/set first (all same base word for tenses of set!) or rise/raise (since many people get this pair correct even if they do not know sit/set and lie/lay very well).
  2. Do rise/raise after sit/set or sit/set after rise/raise (saving lie/lay for last).
  3. Memorize acronym/rhyme to cement the fact that all three with I’s are the ones that are done by someone or something (not to something).
  4. When you get to lie and lay, to lie first all by itself until it is memorized. Then do lay. (I am starting to wait a week between the two with lots of practice on lie during that week before moving on to lay.)
I’m officially done with sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! Time to move on. I feel that I have risen to the occasion and am glad that I did not sit idly by and lay these tricky ones aside. Glad I did not let people lie in agony over these Wacky Words. I would like for all of us to set our grammar burdens aside and raise a toast in honor of sit/set; rise/raise; and lie/lay! J (Last time for a while, honest!)

day 99: rise and raise

Sit and rise have I’s–and lie does too.
“Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.
I like to start with the simplest Wacky Word pair—sit and set. Then I like to move onto rise and raise. (And leave the “wackiest” pair, lie/lay, for the end.)
Remember these rise and raise tips:
  1. Rise has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
    1. I rise around
    2. Yesterday I rose at dawn yesterday. (Not really!)
    3. Before that I had risen when the cat jumped on me.
  1. Rise means to come up to a higher position—anybody or anything can rise, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT raised)
    1. She rose to greet us.
    2. The sun is rising late.
    3. Our grades have risen lately. (Technically, grades are raised by someone (“I raised my GPA”)—but if you do not state who raised them, they would be rising by themselves—which we know doesn’t really happen!)
  1. Raise does have an i—but not only an I like rise—raise is done to something.
  2. Raise must have an object following it—something that it is being raised.
    1. Raise your glass for a toast.
    2. He raised his children well.
    3. The children are raising their hands in class now.
Okay…the tenses for the two:
1. Rise
            a. Base form: rise—Tomorrow I will rise early. (Remember—no object; early is an adverb here, not an object.
            b. Past simple: rose—Yesterday I rose late.
            b. Past participle: risen—They have risen to the task.
            d. Third person singular: rises—The sun rises early now.
            e. Present participle/gerund: rising—The sun was rising later in the day before.
2. Raise
        1. Base form: raise—Today I raise my voice in song. (Object—voice)
        2. Past simple: raised—Yesterday I raised the log and found a mole.
        3. Past participle: raised—Before I put the binoculars down, I raised them up and looked through them in the distance.
        4. Third person singular: raises—She always raises her voice when she is angry.
        5. Present participle/gerund: raising—I am raising the bar in that class!
Tomorrow is quiz day…so be ready! J

day 58: Be a Helper, Link Verb Song

To help you remember the Be, a Helper, Link verbs, there is a little rhyme
that you can sing to the tune of ABC’s (or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”):

            ABCDEFG

            Be, a Helper, Link verbs,
            HIJKLMNOP

            Is, Are, Am, Was, & Were.

            QRSTUV

            Be, & Being, Been, Become,
            WXYZ

            Has, & Had, & Have are ones.
            Now I said my ABC’s

            Can, Could, Shall, Should—they are fun.

            Next time won’t you sing with me?
            Will, Would, Do, Did, Does, & Done.
            ABCDEFG

            May, Might, Must—they are some as well,

            HIJKLMNOP

            Appear, Look, Seem, Remain, Taste, Feel, & Smell.

 

day 44: examining caves more closely–subject

If you learn that a sentence contains five things—and you learn to recognize these things easily, you will learn to evaluate whether every sentence you write is a “real” sentence or not more easily.
Remember, CAVES is the acronym we will use to examine a sentence.
C apital
A ll makes sense
V erb
E nd mark
S ubject

The last letter of CAVES—subject—is what we will examine today. Each “simple sentence”—that is, each “real” sentence must contain a subject. We will call this the sentence’s main subject—because a sentence may contain other subjects in other parts, but a sentence must only contain one subject (the main subject) to be a real sentence.
Tomorrow we will learn the details of a sentence’s main subject—the S of CAVES—subject–each sentence must have a subject.

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