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  1. Punctuation “the traffic signals of writing”

  2. The Comma [,] • Misuse of the comma accounts for half of all punctuation errors. Carefully studying the following rules should enable you to punctuate more clearly and effectively. • On the ACT, you will have 45 minutes to answer 75 grammar questions. This information WILL come in handy!

  3. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Independent (Main) Clauses (Compound Sentences) • A comma follows the first of two independent clauses that are joined by coordinate conjunctions (and, or , nor, for, but, yet, so) • The play’s star is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and its author is Tennessee Williams. • We’re happy to be going to the beach for our vacation, yet we were hoping to go to Disney World. • I think it’s time to let the cat back in, for he’s making a terrible racket at the door. • Taylor did not appreciate the opera’s storyline, nor did he care for the tenor’s voice.

  4. DO NOT use a comma • If there is no full clause (S+V) after the conjunction: • Wrong: George straightened his tie, and put on his jacket. • Right: George straightened his tie and put on his jacket. • *Exception: If the compound verbs are joined by but, a comma will set off the contrast: She always carries bandages with her, but will give them only to bleeding people to whom she has been formally introduced. • After the conjunction: • Wrong: I ordered chicken but, he ordered lobster. • Right: I ordered chicken, but he ordered lobster.

  5. DO NOT use a comma • Between very short independent clauses: • He lies and she cheats. • You tell me and we’ll both know. • Between independent clauses not joined by a coordinate conjunction (use a semicolon instead): • Wrong: The starting gun sounded, the crowd roared. • (What kind of error is this?) • Right: The starting gun sounded; the crowd roared. • Occasionally, for special effect, the writer may choose to use polysyndeton, which requires no commas: • He thought the remark she had made was brilliant or irrelevant or mad. • The truth of her checking account was mysterious and awkward and sad.

  6. Appositives and their Phrases • Definition: A noun or pronoun—often with modifiers—set beside another noun of pronoun to explain or identify it. • My friend Robert was in town this week. • Matthew West, a singer, will be performing in September. • An APPOSITIVE PHRASE is a phrase consisting of an appositive and its modifiers: • Greg’s truck, a gas-guzzling monster from the ’70’s, was on an episode of Cops not long after he sold it. • Appositive phrases usually follow the words they identify, but occasionally they may precede them: • A lovely Jack Russell terrier mix, Jolie is my constant companion. (notice the absence of the second comma)

  7. Appositives and their Phrases • Notice that a nonessential appositive phrase requires a comma, while an essential appositive phrase does not. • If you can take it out without losing anything, it needs commas. • Nuclear energy, a controversial alternative to fossil fuels, has become safer as the technology has developed. • Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its publishing this summer. • James Joyce’s novel Ulysses was voted one of the best books of the 20th century, but I strongly dislike it. • The baseball player Chipper Jones has been with the Atlanta Braves for years.

  8. Appositives and their Phrases • You can indicate number by your own use of commas: • My brother, Chris, got married in May. • My uncle Michael quit his job, sold his house, and became a truck driver because he wanted to travel.

  9. Prepositional Phrases • Use a comma to set off a long introductory prepositional phrase (7 words or more) or a series of introductory prepositional phrases: • After a long, hard day teaching grammar, I like to take Jolie for a walk. • In the bitter windof the Yorkshire moors, Heathcliff searched for his Cathy. • Unless clarity demands one, you do not need a comma after one short introductory phrase: • In the morning we strolled along the boulevard. • In general, prepositional phrases elsewhere in a sentence do not need commas.

  10. Prepositional Phrases • *EXCEPTIONS (make excellent test questions) • If the prepositional phrase or series of phrases introduces an inverted sentence (verb comes before subject), do not separate it with a comma: • On a wind-swept hill of the Yorkshire moors stands Wuthering Heights. • If a prepositional phrase is a parenthetical expression, set it off with commas. • Parenthetical expressions are words or word groups that interrupt the main flow of thought in a sentence and are logically close to the rest of the sentence but are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. • She was, in my opinion, outstanding.

  11. Verbal phrases • A verbal is a verb that is being used as another part of speech (noun, adj., or adv.) • Remember that a phrase is a group of related words that lacks either a subject or a verb or both. A phrase functions as a single word – noun, adjective, or adverb. • Three kinds: • Participles, Infinitives, and Gerunds (PIGs)

  12. Use a Comma to Set Off… Introductory Verbal Phrases Acting as Modifiers • Verbal phrases (phrases beginning with a form of a verb and used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs). An introductory participial or infinitive phrase also needs a comma unless it immediately precedes, and forms a part of, the subject or verb. • Speaking off the record, the mayor admitted the error. • To play bridge well, you need a good memory. • BUT NOT – Playing ultimate frisbee has become my brother’s favorite hobby. • OR – To play ultimate frisbee requires stamina.

  13. Infinitive Phrases • Infinitive (to + verb) + Complement or Modifier or both • If used as a subject, an infinitive does not need a comma: • To become valedictorian would fulfill all his hopes. • *The only noun infinitives that need to be set off with commas are infinitives being used as nonessential appositives: • His life’s ambition, to become a drummer for a rock-and-roll band, was never realized. • She finally reached her main goal in high school, to be valedictorian of her graduating class.

  14. Infinitive Phrases • If it functions as an adjective, an infinitive will always come immediately after the word being modified and should NOT be separated from that word by a comma. • I’ve decided on a plan to beg for new lunchroom tables and chairs. • Set off only introductory adverb phrases (come at the beginning of the sentence and are NOT the subject). All others need no commas. • To play bridge well, you need a good memory. • We ventured out into the wind to experience the fury of nature. • Everyone is impatient to write more essays.

  15. Split Infinitives • When British grammarians sat down and decided on the rules of English grammar, they borrowed heavily from the rules of Latin grammar. One of these rules involved something called a split infinitive. In Latin, an infinitive cannot be split because it is only one word. In English, though, the infinitive has two parts—to + a verb—and these parts can be separated from each other: “To boldly go…” While the rule about splitting infinitives is dropping by the wayside in everyday conversational English (you will even see it in print occasionally), we need to be aware of the rule, as it still appears on standardized tests. • The rule states that you may not insert an adverb between the to and its verb. Try to avoid doing this in your own writing. For example, instead of saying, “…to boldly go…,” the captain should have said, “…to go boldly” or “…boldly to go.” Yes, it loses some of its punch, and that is why the rule is slowly fading into the past. However, since our goal is to sound intelligent, and since there are so many people who still cringe when they read a split infinitive, we will be adhering to the rule in this class!

  16. Gerund Phrases • -ing form + complement or modifiers or both • ALWAYS a NOUN! • The only time a gerund phrase requires commas is if it functions as an appositive. • Subject: Reading a trashy novel is a waste of time. • DO: How can you enjoy reading a trashy novel? • PN: Her chief pastime is reading a trashy novel. • Appositive: His chief pastime, reading a trashy novel, got him into trouble with his mother. • OP: He relaxes by reading a trashy novel. • ***If the Gerund OP comes at the beginning of the sentence (behind the preposition, of course), it MUST be set off with a comma. • By carrying his heavy books around, Tyler built up his arm muscles.

  17. Gerund Phrases • One other important rule about gerund phrases that appears on standardized tests: • If a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, it must be in the possessive form. Remember that the gerund is a noun, too. So just like we use the possessive with the first noun in front of another noun, we use the possessive in front of a gerund. • I was surprised by the child’s question. • I was surprised by the child’s asking such a question. • Do you object to my presence? • Do you object to my being present?

  18. Participial Phrases • A present (-ing) or past (-ed, -d, -en, -n, -t) participle + complement or modifiers or both • ALWAYS an ADJECTIVE. • When a participle appears at the beginning of a sentence and modifies the noun or pronoun behind it, you must separate it with a comma. • Immersed in a trashy novel, the young man ignored his mother’s pleas to take out the trash. • Starting school even earlier this year, the students were only half-awake every morning.

  19. Participial Phrases • If the participial phrase is essential, do NOT set it off with commas: • The young man reading a trashy novel is my cousin. (We need the information to know which young man.) • If the participial phrase is nonessential, DO set it off with commas: • Jennifer, playing the piano skillfully, won the competition.

  20. Sentence-Final Participial Phrases • Participial phrases that come at the end of a sentence and that obviously modify the subject of the sentence should be set off with a comma: • Officer Smiley walked out into the street, smiling and waving at the people driving by. • Usage: This form is usually used when the action within the participial phrase is still ongoing. • The freshman became flustered, scared suddenly that his previous study methods were insufficient for success at LAMP. • Usage: This form is usually used when the action within the participial phrase is completed. • IF IT DOES NOT REFER BACK TO THE SUBJECT, IT WILL BE CONSIDERED DANGLING! • INCORRECT: A large twig floated over and jabbed him, swimming against the current. • CORRECT: Jimmy, swimming against the current, was jabbed by a floating twig.

  21. Dangling Modifiers • A modifying phrase or clause must clearly and sensibly modify a word (usually the nearest noun) in the sentence. When there is no word that the phrase or clause can sensibly modify, the modifier is said to dangle. • Thinly sliced and heaped on rye, corned beef lovers won’t be disappointed by Chappy’s sandwiches. • What is the dangling modifier above? How do we fix this sentence?

  22. Dangling Modifiers • After walking for hours, the cabin appeared in the distance. • What is the dangling modifier above? How do we fix this sentence? • To be well cooked, you must boil beets for half an hour. • What is the dangling modifier above? How do we fix this sentence?

  23. Dangling Modifiers • Elliptical Clauses: a clause from which the subject and all or part of the verb have been dropped as understood. • While still a toddler, my father gave me swimming lessons. • How can we fix the above sentence to clarify? NOTE: Ellipsis is permissible only when the subject of both clauses is the same.

  24. Misplaced Modifiers • Phrase modifiers (adjective phrases and participial phrases) should be placed as near as possible to the words they modify. • While walking down the street, I saw a man with a moustache weighing 300 lbs. • Floating inside the bottle, Mrs. Norman saw some mysterious specks. • Notify us if you intend to stay on the enclosed card.

  25. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers: Practice Directions: Find the dangling, misplaced, or ambiguous modifiers in the following sentences. Then revise each sentence to clarify. • The Simpsons gave a toy robot to one of their children with a bullet-shaped head and flashing red eyes. • Pounding the piano keys with all her might, the chords of the prelude resounded through the concert hall. • The waiter brought us ice cream in glass bowls which started melting almost immediately. • We saw a herd of sheep on the way to our hotel. • When only five years old, my father took me to see my first baseball game.

  26. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers: Practice • Topped with mounds of whipped cream, most people love strawberry shortcake. • While trying to get ready for school, the doorbell suddenly rang. • Ms. Wilson said during her seventh period Hayden acted like a preschooler. • Mrs. Jones asked us before we left to call on her. • Tell Fred when he comes to school I want to see him. • While tuning the radio, the car swerved dangerously toward a telephone pole. • One can see more than a hundred lakes flying at an altitude of several thousand feet. • This bank approves loans to reliable individuals of any size.

  27. *KNOW FOR QUIZ • Coordinating Conjunctions: • and • or • nor • for • yet • so • but • OR use the acronym FANBOYS.

  28. *KNOW FOR QUIZ • Subordinating conjunctions begin adverb clauses, which answer the questions when, where, why, how, to what extent, and under what conditions.

  29. Use a Comma to Set Off… Absolute Phrases • An absolute phrase (also called a Nominative Absolute) consists of a subject + participle + complement or modifiers or both. It is grammatically independent of the sentence, but logically connected to it. It appears at the beginning or end of a sentence and is ALWAYS set off with a comma: • Her face reddening, Miss Piggy karate-chopped Kermit. • The magician was kicked out of the theater, his chicanery having been unmasked.

  30. More Absolute Phrases • Her hands being cold, she plunged them into her inadequate pockets and tried to appreciate the snowstorm as an elemental treat. • Formalities having been dispensed with, the students of the month began to devour the pizza. • Now write your own!

  31. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Items in a series. • Use commas to separate words, phrases, or clauses in a series of three or more: • Words: I enjoy the old films of Bogart, Cagney, Garbo, and Hepburn. • Phrases: The book is available in bookstores, at newsstands, or by mail. • Clauses: She took French lessons, she studied guidebooks, and she talked to people who had been to Paris. NOTE: Some writers omit the comma before and or or in a series. Including this comma, however, assures clarity. Also use a comma before etc. at the end of a series: pork, beans, etc.

  32. DO NOT use a comma • With only two items: Ed bought spaghetti and pork. • When you repeat and or or between every two items: Ed bought spaghetti and pork and angel food cake. • Before the first item or after the last item: • Wrong: Ed bought, spaghetti, pork, and cake. • Right: Ed bought spaghetti, pork, and cake. • Wrong: Spaghetti, pork, and cake, are not everyone’s favorites. • Right: Spaghetti, pork, and cake are not everyone’s favorites.

  33. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Coordinate Adjectives. • In a series of two or more, use commas to separate adjectives of EQUAL importance. Do not put a comma after the last adjective: • Tall, stately trees lined the roadway. • Vulgar, snide, or obscene remarks are not appreciated here. NOTE: Certain combinations of adjectives flow naturally together and need no commas, such as little red schoolhouse or five funny old men. To determine if you need a comma, see if they sound funny in a different order: red little schoolhouse, old funny five men. If they do, omit the comma. Also, if you can insert a coordinate conjunction between them, they are of equal weight and will require a comma.

  34. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Names or Other Words used in Direct Address. • Henry, why are you slacking? • For my encore, ladies and gentlemen, I will play Chopsticks. • Mild Interjections (expressions of less than strong emotion): • Yes, I did get a pedicure last weekend. • No, you may not look at my feet. • Dear me, how you have sacrificed your ethereal beauty for a life of greed and smut.

  35. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Direct Quotations. • Generally, use one or more commas to separate a direct quotation from preceding or following words: • “I love you,” she whispered. • “And I,” he replied, “love you.” • Examples Introduced by Such as, Especially, Particularly; Expressions of Contrast. • Ira enjoys all crafts, especially wood carving. • Dresden was in East Germany, not West Germany.

  36. Use a Comma Also • In Place of Omitted or Understood Words: • Nina attended Harvard; Lova, Princeton. • Before a Confirmatory (Tag) Question: • It’s a warm day, isn’t it? • To Group Words to Prevent Misreading: • Inside, the dog was growling. • [not Inside the dog…] • After eating, the child became sleepy. • [Not After eating the child…]

  37. Use a Comma Also • In Letters: • After the greeting in a friendly letter: • Dear Mabel, NOTE: Use a colon for business letters: Dear Mrs. Butterworth: • After the complimentary closing in all letters: • Very truly yours, • In Dates and Addresses: • In a month-day-year date, place the year within commas, as if it were parenthetical. Do the same with the state or country in an address: • On October 18, 1979, I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, at Baptist Hospital.

  38. Use a Comma to Set Off… • Parenthetical Expressions. • These are words or word groups that interrupt the main flow of thought in a sentence, are logically close to the rest of the sentence, and are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. • General parenthetical expressions: • She was, in my opinion, outstanding. • It is unfortunate, to be sure. (Note the vast difference between that and It is unfortunate to be sure.)

  39. Parenthetical Expressions • Other expressions: on the other hand, moreover,as a matter of fact, to tell the truth, of course, incidentally, namely, in the first place, *therefore, *thus, *consequently, *however, *nevertheless. NOTE: Not all these expressions are always set off. You may choose not to set off perhaps, likewise, at least, indeed, therefore, thus, and certain others in sentences where you feel they do not interrupt your thought flow. *These may also be used as conjunctive adverbs : We are all reading WH; however, we do not all understand it.

  40. Adjective Clauses (A type of relative clause) • a subordinate clause that modifies a noun or a pronoun. • An adjective clause is usually introduced by a relative pronoun, but can also begin with when or where, or the relative adjective whose. • The movie that I watched last night was Young Frankenstein. • That is the house where I want to live. • Students long for the time when school is out again. • Do you know the boy whose locker jammed? *** An Adjective clause usually follows the word it modifies.***

  41. Adjective Clauses (A type of relative clause) • Remember that an adjective clause begins with a relative pronoun. • Relative pronouns do three things: • refer to a preceding noun or pronoun. • connect their clauses to the rest of the sentence • perform a function within their own clauses by serving as the subject, object, etc., of the subordinate clause • **NB** At times, the relative pronoun is dropped at the beginning of an adjective clause: • Wuthering Heights is a book every student should read. • Mrs. Norman’s announcements about the crosswalk were something every student enjoyed hearing. What is omitted but understood?

  42. Adjective Clauses • Nonrestrictive / nonessential Clauses (usually beginning with which or a form of who): • Perry Hill Road, which I take to get to work, will be repaved in the near future. • Mrs. Garrison, who teaches senior English, has a sarcastic sense of humor. • A restrictive clause is essential and cannot be removed as it restricts the meaning of the noun it modifies – DO NOT USE A COMMA: • The street that I take to get to work will be repaved. • The woman who teaches senior English has a sarcastic sense of humor.

  43. Adjective Clauses • There is an easy test to distinguish restrictive from nonrestrictive clauses. A restrictive clause will sound right if you substitute that for who or which; a nonrestrictive clause will not: • The woman that teaches senior English has a sarcastic sense of humor. – Test works, restrictive, omit commas • Mrs. Garrison that teaches senior English has a sarcastic sense of humor. – Wrong, nonrestrictive, needs commas (and who)

  44. Adjective Clauses: Who and Whom • *Relative pronouns perform a function within their own clauses by serving as the subject, object, etc., of the subordinate clause. • This is ESSENTIAL to understanding when to use who vs. whom to begin an adjective clause.

  45. Adjective Clauses: Who and Whom • The principal appointed James, who is a reliable student. • What is the function of who inside the adj. clause? • Mr. Baker is the teacher whom Andie chose as her favorite teacher. • What is the function of whom inside the adj. clause? • The teachers without supplies are the ones for whom the LAMPLighters are trying to raise money. • What is the function of whom inside the adj. clause? • Can we generalize then about the placement of who and whom? • Who before a verb, used as a subject in the clause • Whom after a preposition or before a subject and verb in the clause, most often used as a DO or OP

  46. Adjective Clauses: Who and Whom • RULE: The case of the pronoun beginning a (noun or adjective) subordinate clause is determined by its use in the clause that it begins. The case is NOT affected by ANY word OUTSIDE the clause. • Step 1: Find the subordinate clause. • Step 2: Determine how the pronoun is used in the clause–subject, predicate nominative, object of verb, or object of preposition—and decide its case according to the rules. (S, PN are Nominative; DO, OP are Objective) • Step 3: Select the correct form of the pronoun—who for nominative, whom for objective. • DO NOT BE MISLED by other intervening clauses, such as I think, it seems, or we are convinced: • She is the one who I think scored the goal. • She is the player whom it is certain we must stop.

  47. Adjective Clauses: Restrictive and Nonrestrictive • Remember that adjective clauses are either restrictive (restricting the meaning of the noun being modified, and therefore essential) or nonrestrictive (not essential to understanding the meaning of the noun or sentence). • Restrictive clauses NEED NO COMMAS: • The teacher whom I saw at a Biscuits game was Mr. Ellis. • The car that nearly ran me off the road was a dilapidated land barge. • Nonrestrictive clauses NEED COMMAS: • Mr. Gatling, who is a Beatle fanatic, went to the Paul McCartney concert a few weeks ago. • The new LAMP schedule, which starts ten minutes earlier and ends fifteen minutes earlier, forgot to take into account the extra two minutes needed by the second lunch wave to exit the lunchroom.

  48. Adjective Clauses: Practice DIRECTIONS: First, decide what relative pronoun should start the adj. clause. Then decide if the sentence needs commas and where you would put them. • In Hamlet the two characters (who, whom) I remember best are Hamlet and Ophelia. • If I had known (who, whom) she was I would have been more cordial. • The freshman class officers will be (whoever, whomever) the ninth graders elect. • Since I did not know (who, whom) the caller wanted I insisted he check his number again. • Everybody (who, whom) received an invitation sent a reply.

  49. Adjective Clauses: Practice • She was one of those (who, whom) I suppose the politicians could not influence. • The student (who, whom) I think made the winning goal was too excited to sleep. • No one has figured out to (who, whom) the teacher was referring. • The church is looking for someone (who, whom) it can assign to lead the youth group. • The poets (who, whom) the reading public takes to its heart are not always great poets. • Everyone in the courtroom wondered (who, whom) the mysterious witness would be. • You may tell anyone (who, whom) you think is interested that our work has just begun.

  50. Adjective Clauses: Practice Directions: Find the adjective clauses in the sentences below. Decide if they are essential or nonessential. If it is nonessential, explain where the comma(s) should go. • The LAMP Ambassadors who made us feel at home in our new school helped us through the first confusing days of classes. • My car which is a CR-V has been quite useful in hauling all those graded papers home. • The car which Mrs. Norman drives is always parked out front. • She is wearing the t-shirt she bought to commemorate LAMP’s 25th anniversary. • Teenagers who are nervous do not make good drivers.