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!

day 110: more prepositions as other parts of speech

I think I confused more than helped in my last post about “coming with…” I am going to elaborate a bit on the different uses that words that are commonly prepositions might have in writing:

1. First of all, a word is seldom a certain part of speech in isolation. Words are called parts of speech because they are used in a certain way in speech (and writing). Thus, it is often incorrect to say that, for instance, a dog is a noun. You can be dog tired. You can dog somebody to pay you. A part of speech is a part of speech when it is used–not in isolation.

2. Thus, the preposition as other parts of speech problem. We have students memorize lists of prepositions (though we prefer to have them use them in Check Sentences, again, because that is how “parts of speech” are used)–but we have to remember that those prepositions are only prepositions when they are used as prepositions–how is that for confusing? Remember, a preposition must have an object following it in order to be considered as being used as a preposition.

3. Examples!!! I will list prepositions below to show how they may be used as prepositions or how they may be used as other parts of speech–again, in context.

a. Over
    i. I am coming over. (Adverb–tells where you are coming….)
    ii. Jump over the water. (Preposition–begins the prepositional phrase (PP for short): over the water…)

b. Down
  i. He fell down. (Adverb–tells where he fell..)
  ii. We rode down the hill. (Preposition–begins the PP down the hill…)

c. Before
  i. Before we go to class, let’s check our backpacks. (Subordinator–before is used as a subordinator beginning the subordinate clause before we go to class–a subordinate clause is a clause (subject/verb) that begins with a subordinator and is not a real sentence by itself.)

  ii. I heard that story before. (Adverb–tells when you heard that story…)

  iii. He has to go before the leaders. (Preposition–begins the PP before the leaders…)

Hope this helps! Feel free to write in questions–if I don’t know the answer, I will look the question up in my 600 page reference! 🙂

day 74: phrases, clauses, and sentences

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!


day 36: prepositions that are synonyms

We have already learned prepositions that are antonyms (opposite). Now for our last day of preposition work, we will learn prepositions that are synonyms (meaning the same or almost the same).
First a little mnemonic for antonyms and opposites!
Antonyms—Opposite (both begin with vowel sounds—ant—opp)
Synonyms—Same (both begin with S—syn—same)
When you consider that prepositions show position, it makes sense that if you know one preposition that means a certain direction (i.e. over), then other words that mean the same thing may also be prepositions (above, on top of, etc.).
Consider these prepositions that might be considered synonyms—if you know one from each list, you are likely to be able to think of the others:
1. aboard
            a. on
            b. atop
            c. atop of
            d. astride
2. about
    1. amid
    2. amidst
    3. among
    4. amongst
    5. around
    6. by
    7. near
    8. next to
    9. round
  1. above
    1. atop
    2. atop of
    3. on
    4. on top of
    5. over
    6. up
    7. upon
  1. Against
    1. anti
    2. barring
    3. despite
    4. in spite of
    5. opposite of
  2. Ahead
    1. ahead of
    2. before
    3. in front
    4. in front of
  3. Along
    1. about
    2. alongside
    3. alongside of
    4. Along with
    5. Amid
    6. Amidst
    7. Among
    8. Amongst
    9. At
    10. Beside
    11. Besides
    12. Round
    13. Close
    14. Close to
    15. By means of
    16. Near to
    17. Next to
  4. amid/amidst
    1. about
    2. against
    3. among
    4. amongst
    5. around
    6. at
    7. beside
    8. beside of
    9. by
    10. next to
    11. round
    12. through
    13. throughout
  5. anti
    1. across from
    2. against
    3. barring
    4. opposite
    5. opposite of
    6. versus
  6. around
    1. about
    2. amid
    3. amidst
    4. among
    5. amongst
    6. aside
    7. aside of
    8. circa
  7. aside
    1. along
    2. alongside
    3. alongside
    4. aside of
    5. beside
    6. beside of
    7. by
    8. next
    9. next to
    10. close to
    11. near to
  8. astride
    1. a. atop
    2. atop of
    3. on
    4. on top of
    5. over
    6. up
    7. upon
  9. at
    1. beside
    2. beside of
    3.  by
    4. toward
    5. close to
  10. barring
    1. anti
    2. opposite
    3. opposite of
    4. outside
    5. outside of
    6. due to
    7. except for
    8. save
  11. before
    1. ahead
    2. ahead of
    3. in front of
  12. behind
    1. beyond
    2. following
    3. in back
    4. in back of
The purpose behind the “synonym prepositions” is two-fold: (1) help students realize that if a word is a preposition (and they know that one), then more than likely other words that mean the same thing and fit in the same space are probably prepositions as well; (2) to help students think of even more prepositions—that they might not realize they know. Again, if a student learns to recognize prepositions well, he will recognize prepositional phrases well and will be able to isolate them (mentally, at least) in his sentences to achieve correct subject-verb agreement. (Also, it will help in using prepositional phrase openers in sentences  and punctuating them correctly.)

day 23: homework help—more why learn prepositions?

Check out yesterday’s post for the introduction for “why learn prepositions.” Then read on for information that might help you as a student, parent, teacher, or anyone who wants to write with proper subject-verb agreement.
A preposition is a word that shows position or time between one item and another. It is the first word of the prepositional phrase.
A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition—the word that shows the “position” from or to. In the prepositional phrase, “the angel flew into the clouds,” clouds is the object of the preposition.
Again, we learn prepositional phrases so that we can mentally eliminate them in order to match our sentence’s subject with its correct verb. Recognizing and mentally removing prepositional phrases is a truly “writing worthy” skill as it will help a person write more grammatically correct.
Consider the sentences below that have the prepositional phrases isolated with parentheses. Once you mentally eliminate these prepositional phrases, you can easily match the sentences’ subjects with their verbs.
  1. The boy (in the woods) was lost.
    1. Isolating “in the woods” with parentheses keeps the writer from thinking that the sentence’s subject is woods—and keeps the writer from writing “woods were,” which is not correct.
    2. The sentence’s real subject is boy and needs the singular verb was.
  1. (On the outskirts) (of town,) a little house fell down.
    1. This sentence contains a double prepositional phrase.
    2. This double prepositional phrase is used as a sentence opener—coming before the sentence’s real subject and real verb.
    3. By isolating both prepositional phrase openers with parentheses, we find that the sentence’s real subject is house (or a little house—some grammarians consider the one word subject and some consider the entire subject with its describers) and the sentence’s verb is fell.
  1. The blonde girl (out of all the girls) was (on key.)
    1. This sentence contains two prepositional phrases
                                                    i.     Out of all the girls
                                                   ii.     On key
    1. By isolating them with parentheses (and thus, not considering them when we find our subject and verb), we can see that the sentence’s subject is girl and verb is was.
    2. If we did not isolate “out of all the girls,” we might be tempted to think that “girls” is our subject and use the plural verb “were.”
Re-read the sample sentences carefully. Without isolating the prepositional phrases, would you have been tempted to use the wrong verbs? Isolating prepositional phrases is one of the most helpful beginning writing skills that a writer can learn. It helps eliminate one of the most common sentence writing errors—that of mismatched subjects and verbs.
That’s enough for today! Join us tomorrow for many tricks and tips to help you and/or your students memorize many of the one hundred-plus prepositions.

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