Most often used Sentence Structures Independent Clause (period) new independent clause (period). Jane lit the campfire. Frank set up the tent. Independent Clause (comma plus conjunction) independent clause (period). Jane lit the campfire, and Frank set up the tent. Independent Clause (semicolon) independent clause (period). Jane lit the campfire; and Frank set up the tent. Independent Clause dependent clause started by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun (period). Jane lit the campfire while Frank set up the tent. Dependent clause started by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun (comma) independent clause (period). As Jane lit the campfire, Frank set up the tent.
Commas needed or not? People who snore are advised to sleep on their sides. My father who snores loudly always sleeps with an extra quilt. Mary who by now was very confused stopped in front of the woman. Only a person who is a little peculiar would feed a bagel to a bird.
Independent Clause & Modifying Phrase Hungry and excited the bird snapped up the bagel. Correct: Hungry and excited, the bird snapped up the bagel. Josh who needed to stock up for the party went to the store to buy the necessary supplies. Correct: Josh, who needed to stock up for the party, went to the store to buy the necessary supplies.
Complete/ Independent A complete or independent idea/sentence/clause is one that can stand on its own and make sense. It has main subject and main verb and it doesn’t have anything in it that needs to be continued or finished. Examples: ; I worked out today; my brother did not., but The sun never came out, but people still went to the beach anyway.
Incomplete/Dependent An incomplete idea might have subject and a verb OR it might not. It’s unresolved; it’s like a cliffhanger. Incomplete ideas can NEVER stand on their own and always need an independent clause/sentence to LEAN on to make sense. Examples Examples: Developed further into a serious problem for the team. After she picked up little Timmy, which was later than she expected.
Complete/Incomplete If you’re offered a choice that involved commas and periods, you know that you need to decide whether to start a new sentence. The ONLY time you want to end one sentence and start another when EACH of the TWO sentences you’re going to create is a COMPLETE IDEA. Two Complete ideas mean STOP. If either one of the sentences is an incomplete idea, you’ll have to GO.
Breath Test When you’re doing a stop/go question, read the NON- UNDERLINED part of the sentence both before and after the place where ACT offers you the stop punctuation. complete If both parts are complete ideas, choose STOP punctuation. incomplete If both parts are incomplete ideas, choose Go punctuation. If you have a choice between a comma and no punctuation at all, use the breath test. Read the sentence in your head, and if you feel like you would need to pause for a breath when reading it out loud, you NEED a comma.
Avoid using a comma When it occurs after a subject or a verb Why is this wrong? The retiring teacher, was applauded more than he expected. Why is this wrong? Few taxpayers received, a rebate. When it separates a pair of words, phrases or subordinate clauses joined by and, or, or nor. Why is this wrong? The Pacific Pelican population has been seriously affected by DDT, and by greedy fishermen.
Comma and, but, although, because… Here the comma occurs after and, but, although, because… Secluded little islands in the Pacific are restful and, alluring. Although, most families eat around their TVs, mine does not. Here the comma sets off a series Secretaries today needs skills in, typing, answering the phone and talking with the public.
Semi-colon The semi-colon is generally used to separate independent clauses in a sentence like a period would, but there is a closer relationship between the sentences, so the semi-c0lon is better. Rule: Rule: Use a semicolon between related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction with a comma. Rule: Rule: Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by a transitional word. ; A female coyote will not bear pups if her diet consists of fewer than fifty rodents a week; thus, Mother Nature achieves a population balance.
Avoid using a semicolon When the semicolon separates a subordinate clause or a phrase from a main clause. Why is this wrong? Many forms of wildlife are becoming extinct; because of the encroachment of humans on the animals’ territory and habitat. When the semicolon introduces a series or explanation Why is this wrong? Sue and Matt quickly stowed the supplies they needed into the canoe; the sleeping bags, four large jugs of water, spare boots and socks, and enough food to last them three days.
Colon Use a colon to signal something is to follow: a rephrased statement or answer, a list or series, or a formal quotation. Use a colon in a sentence if you can logically insert namely after it. Use a colon at the end of a complete statement to show anticipation –that is, to show that amplifying details follow, such as a list, series of items a formal quotation or an explanation Example: Example: Of all the gauges in an airplane cockpit, three are crucial: the altimeter, the gas gauge, and the crash-warning indicator.
Problems with colons to avoid Problems that occur in the use of a colon usually result from the following lapses: A complete sentence (independent clause) does NOT precede the colon. A colon incorrectly separates essential parts of a sentence. There is more than one colon in a sentence. A sentence may contain a colon incorrectly because it follows an incomplete thought. Example Example- Maria just purchased all the camping supplies for our trip, including: a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a pair of hiking boots.
Dash – longer than a hyphen Main function – like parenthesis – to enclose information within a sentence. Dashes are generally more forceful and therefore should be used sparingly, since they highlight ideas and items they enclose.
Hyphen – (shorter than a dash) Hyphen has two main uses: to divide syllables at the end of a line And to link words in certain combinations. It is also used in compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.
Hyphenate a compound adjective Compound adjective Compound adjective – an adjective made up of two or more words --- when it precedes the noun it modifies. (The hyphen is normally not used when the words follow the noun). She wore a well-used raincoat. Her raincoat was well used. The past-due bill lay unnoticed on the counter. The bill, past due, lay unnoticed on the counter.
Apostrophe To indicate possession To take the place of omitted numbers /words Class of ’10, haven’t, can’t To indicate plurals that might otherwise be confusing I got all A’s (not As) last year.
Apostrophe/Possessives To show the possessive case of SINGULAR nouns and indefinite pronouns – add ‘ s George’s speech, Charles’s book, anyone’s opinion To show the possessive case of PLURAL nouns ending in s – only add the apostrophe The girls’ softball team, the waitresses’ union,
Common errors Confusing possessive pronouns with contractions its /it’s their/they’re who’s /who is/ whose Avoid using an apostrophe When it is a plural noun, but no possession is indicated The Perkins family and the Rist family were going fishing together. (NOT Perkins’ and Rist’s)