Punctuation Puzzle: Proper Nouns and Quotations

By Donna Reish & Zac Keiser

Oh, proper nouns and quotations. Where do I start to explain the myriad of difficulties that students (and adults!) have with these. Am I starting to sound more like Lamenting Lady than Language Lady in the openings to these Punctuation Puzzles? If so, I am sorry! When you have taught fifty to one hundred students (in second through twelfth grades) English/language arts every semester for nearly twenty years (and you write books and products for them literally every year for nearly two decades as well), you just start to really feel sorry for these precious people who have to navigate the grammar waters with all of its exceptions and varying rules. (Sympathetic, she is!?)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Degrees of Comparison and Commas

By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish

Two of my least favorite things to teach: direct/indirect objects (and predicate nominatives) AND degrees of comparison. (Okay, maybe that is like my four least favorite things to teach!) The first ones (direct/indirect/pn) are just soooo complicated (and they can’t just be skipped or I end up with students who write She gave Sara, Joe, and he a letter….agghh…..). And the latter—degrees of comparison—soooo subjective and vague! Poor students!

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Punctuation Puzzle: Pronoun Cases and Negative Words

 

Subjective. Objective. Big words (as many grammar terms are—adjectival clause or appositive, anyone?) to teach to young student. And yet, even young students need to know when to use he and him—less they end up saying, “Him took my toy” into adulthood! Like everything else I teach, I start out with what students already know. (I even say to them repeatedly, “You know more than you think you know!” Then I proceed to have them tell me what they DO know about the topic.)

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Punctuation Puzzle: Commas with Adverb Openers and Which Clauses at End of Sentence

Since it is the first of September, I assume that you have started school (or maybe Tuesday after Labor Day?) and are having review of many of last year’s concepts. And part of that might be comma review. I have a love-hate relationship with commas (though mostly love!). I love what they do for clarity, sentence rhythm, and reading aloud. (I read aloud to my kids for two to four hours a day for almost thirty years—commas become very important to the reader with that much reading aloud!) The hate part (though I guess that is a strong word for someone who loves grammar and language arts as much as I do!) is how subjective they are. This makes commas especially challenging for students to learn (and for teachers to teach!).

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Punctuation Puzzle: Commas with Interjections and Adjectives

 

Today’s Punctuation Puzzle brings to light an important comma rule that is not readily known. Commas are super subjective and thus challenging to write with. So whenever we can have a fairly fool-proof trick (or tricks in this week’s puzzle!) up our sleeve to make the comma insertion easier, we want to do it. (This is especially true in teaching English to our students—let’s make every trick, tip, mnemonic, song, rhyme, jingle, rap, and check sentence that we possibly can for our wonderful students! (See more of these in the Think Fast Grammar Quiz downloadable product available at Character Ink Store and in the Members Area of this blog!)

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