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Punctuation Grammar and Usage. ACT Prep. Intro to Punctuation. Big Issues. Forming complete sentences Introducing and organizing lists Punctuation possessives Using modifiers or descriptive phrases. Key Mistakes.

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big issues
Big Issues
  • Forming complete sentences
  • Introducing and organizing lists
  • Punctuation possessives
  • Using modifiers or descriptive phrases
key mistakes
Key Mistakes
  • Playing it by ear. It’s easy to blow through a punctuation question without thinking too hard about it, because the words themselves don’t change—but that’s what the test writers expect you to do.
  • Read through all the answers and make sure your choice is the one that makes the most sense grammatically. The one that “sounded right” the first time around is not necessarily the right one.
strategies
Strategies
  • Know how sentences work.
  • Recognize modifiers.
  • Read the entire sentence (and the sentences before and after, too).
independent clauses
Independent Clauses
  • These are clauses that could stand alone, with nothing added, as complete sentences!
  • The way you can learn to identify these is by going through a brief checklist:
    • Does this clause have a subject?
    • Does this clause have a verb?
    • Is this sentence a complete thought? Does it make sense on its own?
dependent clauses
Dependent Clauses
  • These are clauses missing any one of the three key ingredients mentioned above.
  • The thing about these clauses is that they’re like your dog—needy, co-dependent—and they need you or someone to walk them or spend time with them.
  • In other words, dependent clause MUST have an independent clause attached to it in order to be a complete sentence.
independent or dependent
Independent or Dependent?
  • Ned naps.
  • Nap!
  • When Ned naps.
  • Ned naps in the janitor’s closet, and he doesn’t care who knows it.
  • Napping for hours, Ned missed his ride home.
1 between independent clauses with a conjunction
1. Between independent clauses WITH A CONJUNCTION
  • Independent clauses can be joined by FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So) and a comma in front of the conjunction.
  • Incorrect: Ned took a nap and, he dreamed of flying hairdryers.
  • Correct: Ned took a nap, and he dreamed of flying hairdryers.
2 between items on a list of three or more
2. Between items on a list of three or more.
  • Ned dreamed of bunnies, bulldozing, and beef brisket.
3 to separate out non essential clauses
3. To separate out non-essential clauses.
  • Non-essential clauses, flanked with commas, are those that may be removed without making the sentence incomplete.
  • Ned, a wizard for four years now, was a victim of his own sleeping potion.
4 after introductory prepositional or introductory clauses
4. After introductory, prepositional, or introductory clauses.
  • At the beginning of a sentence, (like this very sentence here!! How relevant!!) commas can be used to set off phrases that are not part of the independent clause.
  • In the event he might be invited to Hogwarts, Ned had set up a system of loud bells in the chimney.
5 between coordinate adjectives
5. Between coordinate adjectives
  • Correct: The humiliated, indignant owl that Ned caught left without delivering the letter.
semi colons and colons
Semi-colons and Colons
  • Semi colons are a “soft period;” they separate independent but related clauses.
  • For the most part, the semi-colon is used when the writer wants to keep two sentences together; they’re really about the same thing.
semi colons and colons1
Semi-colons and Colons
  • Here’s what the ACT testers will try and get you on. If you have a semi-colon, you do not need a conjunction, and both clauses on each side of the semi-colon must be complete.
  • WRONG:

I went to the movies; and I love watching summer blockbusters.

semi colons and colons2
Semi-colons and Colons
  • Colons, on the other hand, introduce new information: a list or a single item.
hyphens and dashes
Hyphens and Dashes
  • Hyphens clarify compound modifiers (descriptors, but never a word using “ly”) before the noun described, never after.
  • Well-rested Ned performed excellently on his ACTs.
hyphens and dashes1
Hyphens and Dashes
  • Dashes are similar to commas, parentheses, and colons. They emphasize that you are interrupting your thought in order to provide extra or explanatory information or to amplify your statement.
hyphens and dashes2
Hyphens and Dashes
  • Like parentheses: Ned stopped napping—there was a gnome at the foot of the bed—and jumped up to turn the light on.
  • Like a colon: Ned grabbed the most powerful of weapons against home invaders—a fly swatter.
  • Like a comma: The fly swatter had successfully warded off many enemies—for example, horseflies, the occasional mouse, and the neighbor kid who sneaks in to steal candy—from his apartment.
apostrophes question marks and exclamations
Apostrophes, Question Marks, and Exclamations
  • If you’re tested on apostrophes the first thing to do is identify what is possessed. If the noun is singular, an apostrophe is added followed by “s.” If it is plural, the apostrophe follows the word with no additional “s.”
  • Who owns these objects, one Ned or many Neds?
  • Neds’ basement.
  • Ned’s workshop.
apostrophes question marks and exclamations1
Apostrophes, Question Marks, and Exclamations
  • As for exclamations and question marks, what the ACT will test is whether you can recognize indirect vs. direct contexts. Which of the sentences uses exclamations properly?
    • I want a beagle!
    • I asked if I could have a beagle
    • I shouted out that I wanted a beagle!
    • Can I just have a beagle already?