Week 5 - Thursday COMP 4100
Grammar • The basic unit of written English is the sentence. • A sentence is composed of a subject and a predicate. • The subject is the noun or noun phrase doing the action. • The predicate contains the verb that does the action and (optionally) the object that it's done to. • Example: He took a sample of my pasta. Subject Predicate Verb
Three kinds of sentences • There are three kinds of sentences in formal writing: • Simple sentences, with a single subject and predicate • Compound sentences, with two simple sentences joined together • Complex sentences, with a simple sentence and a subordinate clause • Make sure you know which one of the three you're using whenever you write a sentence.
Simple sentences • A simple sentence has one subject and one verb. • Example: • I need some bread. • In this example, "I" is the subject and "need" is the verb. • "Some bread" is the direct object of the verb "need." • Simple sentences are fine, but a collection of them sounds childish and disjointed. • Use a simple sentence to break up other, more complicated sentences.
Compound sentences • Compound sentences join two simple sentences together. • With a comma and a coordinating conjunction: • Walter cooks crystal meth, but Jesse wants a happy life. • With a semicolon and (optionally) a conjunctive adverb: • The sky is clear; the stars are bright. • Peggy has great ideas; however, Don fails to give her credit. • In compound sentences, the sentences being joined should be related.
Coordinating conjunctions • To make a compound sentence with a comma and a coordinating conjunction, remember FANBOYS when you're trying to remember which conjunctions are allowed: • for • and • nor • but • or • yet • so • Obviously "and" and "but" do the heavy lifting, but a few of the others can be useful from time to time
Complex sentences • Complex sentences join a simple sentence with a subordinate clause (using a subordinating conjunction). • The subordinate clause cannot stand on its own. • Example: • Although he ate a kitten for breakfast, he was still hungry. • When the subordinate clause comes first, you must put a comma between it and the simple sentence. • When the subordinate clause comes after the simple sentence, there's no need for a comma: • She returned the computer because it smelled awful.
Uses of commas • As mentioned, before coordinating conjunctions that join two simple sentences into a compound sentence • As mentioned, after a dependent clause that starts a sentence • To mark appositives, phrases that act as synonyms or offer additional information: • A mallard, a kind of duck, attacked me. • To separate items in a series: • Macadamias, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are kinds of nuts. • After introductory adverbs: • Finally, I was able to wash my hair. • Between adjectives that modify the same noun: • Tell me more about that big, literate octopus. • There are a few other cases for commas (separating numbers and addresses or direct quotations), but these are the big ones.
Oxford comma • When three or more items are listed, you separate the first items with commas, but do you put a comma before the "and" that precedes the last item? • People disagree. • Using the "Oxford comma" means that you put that comma there: • I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand, and God. • Leaving out the Oxford comma is more logical, but it can lead to ambiguity: • I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God. • Use either style, but be consistent.
Common sentence mistakes • A run-on sentence improperly joins two independent clauses • A special kind of run-on sentence, a comma splice, joins two independent clauses with a comma only • A sentence fragment is missing either a subject or a predicate
Run-on sentence • A run-on sentence improperly joins two independent clauses: • I drink the blood of my enemies they are numerous. • Fixes: • I drink the blood of my enemies. They are numerous. • I drink the blood of my enemies, yet they are numerous. • I drink the blood of my enemies; however, they are numerous. • Although I drink the blood of my enemies, they are numerous.
Comma splice • A comma splice joins two independent clauses with a comma only • Example: • John plays the banjo, he is a strange man. • Fixes: • John plays the banjo, and he is a strange man. • John plays the banjo; he is a strange man. • John plays the banjo. He is a strange man. • John plays the banjo because he is a strange man.
Sentence fragment • A sentence fragment is missing either a subject or a predicate • Example (missing subject): • Shows no improvement in programming skills. • Fix: • Bill Gates shows no improvement in programming skills. • Example (missing verb): • The wombats, who were skilled in ninjutsu, which is a form of martial art. • Fix: • The wombats, who were skilled in ninjutsu, killed everyone in the village with this form of martial art.
Common usage mistakes • There/they're/their • Its/it's • Could of/could have • Lie/lay • When in doubt, look it up: • https://brians.wsu.edu/common-errors-in-english-usage/
Reminders • Project 2, the design document, is due next Friday • Assignment 3, the rough draft, is due the Friday after that