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Conquering the Comma. A workshop brought to you by the Purdue University Writing Lab. What Is a Comma?. A comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause is needed in a sentence. Commas help to clarify meaning for the reader. ,. Clauses and Phrases.

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Conquering the Comma

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Conquering the comma l.jpg

Conquering the Comma

A workshop brought to you by

the Purdue University

Writing Lab

Purdue University Writing Lab


What is a comma l.jpg

What Is a Comma?

  • A comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause is needed in a sentence.

  • Commas help to clarify meaning for the reader.

,

Purdue University Writing Lab


Clauses and phrases l.jpg

Clauses and Phrases

  • A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb that complement each other.

  • A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject or a verb that complement each other.

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Phrase are word clusters lacking subject and verb combinations l.jpg

Clauses and Phrases

Clause: contain a subject and verb. If they form complete thoughts, we call them independent clauses. If they form incomplete thoughts, we call them dependent or subordinate clauses.

Phrase: are word clusters lacking subject and verb combinations.

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Phrase example while collecting data also a fragment but not even a subject and verb l.jpg

Clauses and Phrases

Clause examples: 1) We collected the data (Complete sentence with a subject and verb. This is an independent clause.) 2) While we collected the data (FRAGMENT as is even though it has a subject and verb. This is a dependent clause.)

Phrase example: While collecting data

(also a fragment, but not even a subject and verb!)

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Sentence structure a simple sentence l.jpg

Sentence Structure:A Simple Sentence

  • A complete sentence has two components, a subject and a verb.

  • The subject and verb must form a complete thought to be considered a simple sentence.

The coupledances.

The coupledances.

subject (S) verb (V)

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A sentence that contains two simple sentences joined by a conjunction is called a compound sentence.

A conjunction joins words, phrases, and clauses together in a sentence.

Conjunctions

for

and

nor

but

or

yet

so

Sentence Structure:Compound Sentence

FAN BOYS

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Sentence Structure:Compound Sentence

  • The comma in a compound sentence is placed before the conjunction.

    Andy built a snowman, and Jeff played with his dog.

SVconj.

Andybuilt a snowman,and

Jeffplayed with his dog.

SV

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Sentence Structure:Compound Sentence

Where would you place the comma in the following sentence?

Dan struggled with his homework so his father helped him.

Dan struggled with his homework,so his fatherhelped him.

SVconj.SV

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Sentence Structure:Pattern for the Compound Sentence

We see these as sentences with a pattern:

SV, conj. SV

He journeyeda long way,for his home was across the ocean.

SV ,conj.SV

Dan struggled with his homework so his father helped him.

I built a very strong boat,yetit still sunkto the ground.

SV ,conj.SV

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Sentence structure commas in a series l.jpg

Sentence Structure:Commas in a Series

  • Place commas in a sentence to divide items in a list.

  • The commas will help the reader to avoid confusion.

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Sentence Structure:Commas in a Series

Consider the difference in the following:

Last month, Alex dated Mary Ann Lee and Kim.

Last month, Alex dated Mary, Ann, Lee, and Kim.

Last month, Alex dated Mary Ann, Lee, and Kim.

How many girls did Alex date?

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Sentence Structure:Commas in a Series

  • Commas should be placed in series of words, phrases, or clauses.

  • Place commas in the following sentences:

Martina brushed her hair, put on her pajamas, and went to bed.

Martina brushed her hair put on her pajamas and went to bed.

She fell asleep and dreamed that she was a princess, she kissed a frog, and she rescued her prince.

She fell asleep and dreamed that she was a princess she kissed a frog and she rescued her prince.

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Commas with adjectives

  • Use commas 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.

big blue housethree hungry kittens

a cranky, ungrateful man

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Time to practice

You will get into groups to practice/model the “varied sentence structure” possible in a 7-sentence paragraph. Here’s the pattern you must follow:

  • Simple sentence

  • Compound sentence

  • Commas in a series

  • Commas use to separate adjectives

  • Appositive

  • Semicolon sentence

  • Colon sentence

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Sentence Structure:Direct Address

  • A noun in direct address is the name or title of a person being spoken to.

  • Use commas to set off nouns in direct address.

  • Example:

    Mrs. Barnhart, I love learning grammar!

    I want to learn more about commas, Tracy, so I can be the best writer!

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Sentence Structure:Appositives

  • An appositive is a noun or phrase that identifies the person or thing it follows.

  • Use commas to set off MOST appositives.

  • Do not use commas to set off a short appositive, such as one name.

    This is my friend Kara.

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Sentence Structure:Appositives

My brother, the biggest nerd I know, plans to throw a party!

Sappositive V

Even without the appositive, the sentence still makes sense : My brother plans to throw a party!

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Commas in Quotations

Follow your rules for dialogue punctuation.

If the He said comes first, place the comma after said.

He said, “I know Kung Fu.”

If the he said comes after the quote, place the comma inside the quotation marks after the last word in the quotation.

“I’ll dance with you,” he said.

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Commas in Quotations

  • If the he said comes in the middle of the quote, place the comma inside the quotation marks after the last word in the first part of the quote and after the he said.

    “Put the box,” he said, “in the house.”

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A Common Comma Error:The Comma Splice

  • A comma splice is an error in which two sentences are joined by a comma.

Wehad a nice time,Ihope we can meet again soon.

SVS V

The Internethas revolutionized the business world,

SV

online saleshave increased dramatically this year.

SV

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To Correct a Comma Splice

  • Insert a conjunction between the two sentences.

  • Start a new sentence.

  • Insert a semi-colon between the two sentences.

  • 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.

  • The Internet has revolutionized the business world; online sales have increased dramatically this year.

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