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Conquering The Comma And Other Punctuation Marks By Jill Oliver Compiled from information and materials provided by Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)

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Presentation on theme: "Conquering The Comma And Other Punctuation Marks By Jill Oliver Compiled from information and materials provided by Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Conquering The Comma And Other Punctuation Marks By Jill Oliver Compiled from information and materials provided by Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)

2 Overview: Punctuation Marks Commas Semicolons Colons Parentheses Quotation Marks

3 The Comma A comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause is needed in a sentence. Commas help to clarify meaning for the reader by separating clauses, words, and phrases.

4 Clauses and Phrases A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb that complement each other. –Clauses can be independent (they make sense by themselves) or dependent (they make no sense by themselves). A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject or a verb that complement each other.

5 Compound Sentences A compound sentence is a sentence made up of two independent clauses. Commas are used to separate these clauses when they are joined by coordinating conjunctions. A conjunction joins words, phrases, and clauses together in a sentence. The following are coordinating cojunctions: –for –and –nor –but –or –yet –So An easy way to remember this is by using the acronymn: FAN BOYS

6 The weather was beautiful, so Kelly went to the beach. S V The weather was beautiful, so Kelly went to the beach. Conj. S V Compound Sentences The comma in a compound sentence is placed before the coordinating conjunction.

7 Compound Sentences So, where does the comma belong in the following sentence? Sean built a sandcastle and Tammy played with her ball Sean built a sandcastle, and Tammy played with her ball S V Conj. S V

8 Dependent Clauses A dependent clause contains a subject and verb, but cannot stand independently. Still, they may appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Dependent phrases and clauses are used to clarify and add detail to an independent clause. Dependent clauses can often be spotted by the use of dependent clause markers. Some markers include: Because Since When While Until Though Although Unless If As After Before Once Whether

9 Dependent Clauses When a dependent clause is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it becomes an introductory clause. –When using introductory clauses, place a comma between the independent clause and the dependent clause. When a dependent clause is located after an independent clause, DO NOT place a comma between the two.

10 Dependent Clauses Which phrases need commas and where do they go? After Jackie ate all the cookies Annabella baked more. DCM S V After Jackie ate all the cookies, Annabella baked more. S V Annabella baked more cookies after Jackie ate them all. S V DCM S V Annabella baked more cookies after Jackie ate them all. DCM S V S V While Annabella bakes often, Jackie eats more than she bakes. DCM S V S V While Annabella bakes often, Jackie eats more than she bakes.

11 Essential vs. Nonessential Phrases Clauses An essential clause or phrase is used to modify a noun. –It adds information that is critical to the meaning of the sentence. A nonessential phrase or clause adds extra information to a sentence. –This information can be eliminated from the sentence without damaging the meaning of the sentence. Essential clauses are NOT set off by commas. Nonessential phrases and clauses are ALWAYS set off by commas.

12 DCM S V S V My neighbors, who live down the hall, are very rude! S nonessential phrase V My neighbors, who live down the hall, are very rude! DCM S V S V The people who live next door are very rude! S essential phrase V The people who live next door are very rude! DCM S V S V Chris bought Jo earrings for Christmas, her favorite holiday. S V nonessential phrase Chris bought Jo earrings for Christmas, her favorite holiday. DCM S V S V The chai that I order from Java Kai is better than this one! S essential phrase V The chai that I order from Java Kai is better than this one! Essential vs. Nonessential Without the essential phrase, the sentence does not make complete sense: The people are very rude! Even without the phrase the sentence makes sense: My neighbors are very rude! Use commas to set off additional and unnecessary information. Here’s a tip: The word “that” is almost always an indicator of an essential phrase or clause.

13 Other Comma Uses Place commas in a sentence to divide items in a list and help the reader avoid confusion. –Commas should be placed in series of words, phrases, or clauses. Also, commas are used to separate adjectives that provide an equal description of a noun. THE TEST: Can you put “and” between the adjectives? Can they be described in reverse order? If so, use a comma. the small red flowerfour hungry puppiesthe cranky, noisy child

14 The Comma Splice Error A comma splice is an error in which two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Insert a conjunction or semicolon between the two independent clauses. Start a new sentence. S V S V We had a nice time, I hope we can meet again soon. S V S V has revolutionized communication, mom has written fewer letters since she started using it. We had a nice time, and I hope we can meet again soon. We had a nice time. I hope we can meet again soon. has revolutionized communication; mom has written fewer letters since she started using it.

15 Semicolon ; Semicolons are used instead of commas to join independent clauses when: –No connecting words are used I am going to Las Palmas Express; I intend to eat in the restaurant. The girls were tanning at the beach; they didn’t make it to class. –The two clauses are linked using a conjunctive adverb (an adverb that joins independent clauses) such as however, moreover, therefore, consequently, otherwise, nevertheless, thus, etc. I am going to Las Palmas Express; moreover, I intend to eat in the restaurant. The girls were tanning at the beach; consequently, they didn’t make it to class.

16 Colon : Use a colon after a complete statement in order to introduce one or more directly related ideas. This includes a series of directions, a list, or a quotation or other comment illustrating or explaining the statement. The Kalamalama contains eleven sections: News, Student Life, Etcetera, Science, Environment, People & Places, Opinion, Lifestyles, Art & Entertainment, Business, Calendar, and Sports. Similar results were provided by the search engines used: Google, Yahoo!, Lycos, Mamma.com, and AltaVista. Use a colon after expressions like he said when they introduce a long and formal quotation: The teacher walked to the front of the class and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I will begin today’s lecture by reviewing Chapter 7 in the text…” Lastly, use a colon after a formal letter greeting, between the hour and minute figures in time designations, between a chapter and verse reference from the Bible, and between a title and subtitle Dear Sir or Madam:8:40 p.m. Gen 2:18-24Surfriders: In Search of the Perfect Wave

17 Parentheses ( ) Parentheses always appear in pairs and should only be used sparingly. When parentheses are used, they are to only enclose ideas and phrases that are extra and nonessential to the sentence. –The Bird of Paradise (see figure 5.1) is a beautiful flower found in tropical climates. –I am enclosing a check for ninety dollars ($90.00). –Please include on your cover page (1) your full name, (2) the course title, (3) the project's due date, and (4) the title of your project.

18 Quotation Marks “ ” Quotation marks are used either in two basic ways. They are used to enclose direct quotations. He asked, "Will you be home later?“ "No," she answered, "I'm going out tonight.“ They also indicate words used ironically, with reservations, or in some other unusual way. Tara is allergic to shellfish; therefore, she has a great "love" of shrimp.

19 Punctuation with Quotation Marks Use a comma to introduce a quotation after a standard dialogue tag, a brief introductory phrase, or a dependent clause –Examples: "He asked," "She stated," "According to Bronson," or "As Shakespeare wrote.“ Use a colon to introduce a quotation after an independent clause. –D. H. Nachas explains cultural differences in greeting customs: "Touching is not a universal sign of greeting. While members of European cultures meet and shake hands as a gesture of greeting, members of Asian cultures bow to indicate respect.“

20 More Punctuation Put commas and periods within closing quotation marks, except when a parenthetical reference follows the quotation. –He said, “I may forget your face, but I never remember a name.” –Mullen, criticizing the apparent inaction, writes, "Donahue's policy was to do nothing” (27). Put colons and semicolons outside closing quotation marks. –Williams described the experiment as "a definitive step forward"; other scientists disagreed. –Benedetto emphasizes three elements of what she calls her "Olympic journey": family support, personal commitment, and great coaching. Put a dash, question mark, or exclamation point within closing quotation marks when the punctuation applies to the quotation itself and outside when it applies to the whole sentence. –Jenna asked, “Did you read this paper?” –I can't believe you actually liked that book, “Dancing Wu Li Masters"!

21 Unnecessary Quotation Marks Quotation marks around the title of your essay is unnecessary. Furthermore, do not use quotationd marks for common nicknames, bits of humor, technical terms that readers are likely to know, and well-known expressions. For words used as words themselves or for technical or unfamiliar terms used for the first time (and defined), don’t use quotation marks. You should use italics instead. –The English word nuance comes from a Middle French word meaning "shades of color.“

22 For More Information… Refer to your handy dandy Bedford Handbook Or visit Purdue’s Online Writing Lab and for information and excercises at


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