We had an interesting conversation in my high school creative writing class this week. One of the students started a sentence with and, and, of course, the more grammarly types thought that he should not.
Being the kind of teacher who does not like to let any potential lesson pass, I delved in. That is what I would like to “teach” here today–but first let’s go back to those earlier lessons on compound sentences and comma use–and, of course, what a coordinating conjunction is to begin with.
By Zac Kieser and Donna Reish
Today we have a PUNCTUATION PUZZLE—plus a couple of other errors for you to find!
The shepherd lead them to the brook and they drank alot, because they were very, hot, and thirsty.
Here is the answer with an explanation for each aspect below:
The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot because they were very hot and thirsty.
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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.
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.
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.
We teach three writing strategies in our books that I just heard used wonderfully together in Michael Connelly’s new novel (The Black Box). (I listen to fiction sometimes while I clean, drive, edit, etc., since time is short here!)
“The store owners shot looters. The National Guardsmen shot looters. And looters shot looters.”
Three elements to try to incorporate in your writing this week:
1. SSS5 x 3—Super Short Sentence of Five Words or Fewer Three Times in a Row
2. Redundancy on Purpose! Way cool when redundancy (repeating the same words) is done on purpose!)
3. Repeating sentence structure--Subject-Verb-Object Pattern
Try one–or all three–this week!