Grammar and Punctuation for Writers
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Grammar and Punctuation for Writers

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This workshop begins with a review of the most basic punctuation and grammar issues, such as comma errors, subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement, and misplaced modifiers. Students are encouraged to ...

This workshop begins with a review of the most basic punctuation and grammar issues, such as comma errors, subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement, and misplaced modifiers. Students are encouraged to ask questions throughout the workshop. We end with a quiz that will help students review and remember what they learned. For students to test their knowledge of grammar and punctuation, we end with a game of Jeopardy for Editors.

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  • Howdy. My name is __________, and I work at the University Writing Center. We are available to all TAMU students to help with any writing project. You can find out more about us by asking me, or by visiting our Web site at writingcenter.tamu.edu. [If you have time, talk about the hours and locations of the UWC]
  • Today, we’re going to be going over some basic grammar and punctuation guidelines for standard academic writing. I may use some terms you can’t quite remember from your high school study of grammar, things like “participle” or “dangling modifier.” Don’t worry--you probably don’t need to know the term if you get the general idea. And don’t hesitate to ask questions, either. I’ll do my best to give you the answer on the spot, and if I can’t, I’ll look it up and get back to your instructor.
  • When proofing your paper, one of the easiest errors to overlook is incorrect subject-verb agreement. The best way to catch these mistakes is to read your paper out loud or have someone else read your paper. Some rules are complicated and difficult to remember (i.e. what verb form agrees with “each”).[Read examples.]The next slide has a chart that covers tricky subject-verb agreement examples.
  • Even in college writing, some of the most common errors tend to deal with agreement, whether it’s subject-verb, noun-pronoun, or items in a list.1st example: two single subjects (Harry, Ron), connected by or USE singular verb2nd example: “Each” is a single subject, even though the word “professors” is plural3rd example: USE a plural verb because the final subject is plural (even though History of Magic book is singular)4th example: With sums of money or periods of time use singular verb
  • In speech or informal writing we sometimes use “they” to indicate a person of unknown gender with the singular (Like “Everyone has their limit.”) But in academic writing most editors still prefer the singular “he” or “she.”
  • Noun –pronoun agreement can frequently cause writing problems. Think about whether certain key words in thesentence are singular or plural. 1st example: single subject (everyone), gets the singular his, his or her, his/her, or her. (A good alternative is to change “everyone” to a plural.2nd example: “Each” is a single subject, even though the word “professors” is plural3rd and 4th examples: For group words like group, class, set, band, or corps (as in cadets), use either singular or plural pronouns—if you want to emphasize individuals, use singular (his, her), and if you want to emphasize the whole, use plural (they).
  • [Explain dangling and misplaced modifiers.] Dangling modifiers describe words that don’t appear in the sentence (see example). Misplaced modifiers describe words that are too far away from the clause: Plump and juicy, Aunt Gertrude makes the best roasted pig in south Texas. The first example is wrong; the second is correct.
  • Make sure you keep list items parallel [explain]. The first one is wrong; the second is correct.
  • If the subject of a sentence is performing the action, the verb is in the active voice. You’ll use active voice when you want to put more emphasis on the actor than the action.
  • If the subject of the sentence receives the action, the verb is in passive voice. You’ll use passive voice when you want to put more emphasis on the action or object (or the actor is unknown/unimportant). Passive voice is used more in scientific writing. In science writing, you’re usually trying to put more emphasis on the method itself than the person who is actually carrying out the experiment. It is not “wrong,” but teachers may discourage you from using passive voice because it tends to be more wordy.
  • The simplest way to determine correct punctuation is not to “put a comma where it sounds right” or “when I take a breath” but to learn some simplerules. While I can’t teach you every possible punctuation error you could make in only one lecture, I can show you the most common mistakes and how to fix them. If you’re confused, check out our website for handouts on commas, semicolons, colons, and apostrophes.
  • There are two MAIN clause types—independent and dependent. [Explain the difference.]
  • These are a few examples of words that typically begin a dependent clause (but there are others). The dependent clause is in purple. Note that it would not be able to stand on its own and adds extra information. **Prepositions are anything an Aggie can do at Kyle field.The Aggie can goover, under, around, through, beside, between, above, across, against, at, among, after, before, behind, beyond, by, down, into, from, in, near, off, past, to, through, toward, on, or up to Kyle field. About, during, for, except, throughout, untilare also prepositions.
  • When you splice film, you join two pieces together—that’s what a splice is, so when you splice sentences, you join them together—but illegally.
  • A long sentence is not a run-on! That’s a common misconception. A run-on is two complete sentences (or independent clauses) with no punctuation.
  • Notice that the use of a coordinating conjunction (“for” in this case) specifies a relationship (cause) between the clauses. “And” shows addition; “for” and “so” show cause; “or” and “nor” show alternative, “yet” and “but” show exception.
  • You can also use a period to correct comma splice and run-on errors. **Note that it is grammatically correct to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS).
  • Semicolons are used to separate two complete sentences that are strongly related. They are also used to separate complex items in a list (items with commas in them): I have lived in San Diego, CA; Tyler, TX; and Bryan, TX. We’ll talk about the difference between semicolons and colons in a bit.
  • Notice that after the transition word, you put a comma. It’s just like when an introductory phrase or word starts a sentence. After the semi-colon, you have another complete sentence.
  • Know how to use semicolons and colons properly. Semicolons separate two COMPLETE sentences (or independent clauses) that relate to the same idea. The first word of the second sentence isn’t capitalized. Also, it is used in lists where there are commas within the items of the list (i.e. list of cities, states). Colons set apart a sentence from an example prompted by the sentence. Never follow a preposition with a colon. (Read example.)
  • So how do you decide when to use coordination? Remember, coordination is sentences that are compound: made up of two or more complete sentences (independent clauses). When those sentences are closely related and you want them bound more tightly that a period binds them, use a semi-color or FANBOYS.
  • But if you want to make one of the sentences stand out more than the other, use subordination.The blue part is the independent clause (the one that can stand alone as a sentence). It gets the most emphasis when it comes last, but in both sentences it gets more emphasis than the dependent clause. You could read the “Because” clause aloud so they see it is not a complete sentence.
  • Explain that in this case there are many Aggies in view, any of which could be the brother. By specifying a Maroon Out shirt, the writer clarifies which is the brother.
  • Explain that there is only one Aggie in view, and the fact that he is wearing a Maroon Out shirt is just extra information.
  • Use a comma after introductory words, phrases, or dependent clauses that start a sentence. The intro material is in blue.
  • For more help with your grammar and punctuation questions, make an appointment or check out the resources on our website: writingcenter.tamu.edu.
  • Like us on Facebook. Check out our video podcasts on YouTube and our audio podcasts on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Check out our Pinterest page. Check in with us on Four Square.

Grammar and Punctuation for Writers Grammar and Punctuation for Writers Presentation Transcript

  • At a loss for words?214 Evans Library | 205 West Campus Librarywritingcenter.tamu.edu | 979-458-1455 1
  • Grammar & Punctuation for Writers 2
  • Agreement of Subject & VerbsMake the subject and verb agree with eachother and not with the words that comebetween them. One of the most famous Aggies is reviewing the march-in. Of my friends, several have vowed never to leave Aggieland. 3
  • Subject & Verb AgreementVerb Subject ExampleSingular Two, sing. Harry or Ron is arriving by floo subjects powder today.Singular Each Each of the professors knows how to teach potions.Plural Either/or Neither the History of Magic Neither/nor book nor the wands are sold at the Leaky Cauldron.Singular Sums of One hundred galleons is too money much for a baby dragon. 4
  • Agreement of Nouns & PronounsMake the nouns and the pronouns that referto it agree. Every Aggie has promised to uphold his or her part of the bargain. All Aggies have promised to uphold their part of the bargain. 5
  • Noun & Pronoun AgreementNoun Pronoun ExampleSingular Singular Everyone is bringing his or her wand to class.Singular Singular Each of the professors knows his or her most adept fliers.Singular Singular The class has its own dragon.Plural Plural The class has their own dragon. 6
  • Dangling ModifiersAn introductory modifier should always refer tothe subject of the sentence. After carrying the mini-fridge up the dorm stairs, it wouldn’t fit in the doorway to the room. After carrying the mini-fridge up the dorm stairs, the Fish found that it wouldn’t fit in the doorway to the room. 7
  • ParallelismIn a series, always use the same type ofgrammatical structure for elementsthroughout the list. Make them parallel. We learned Aggie yells, the “Aggie War Hymn,” talked about the traditions, and made new friends. We had fun learning the Aggie yells, singing the “Aggie War Hymn,” talking about the traditions, and making new friends. 8
  • Active Voice If the subject of the sentence performs the action, the verb is in active voice.{ The Aggie men’s basketball team beat Colorado’s basketball team this week. } *When the actor is more important than the action, use active voice. 9
  • Passive Voice If the subject of the sentence receives the action, the verb is in passive voice.{ The tu women’s basketball team was beaten by the Aggies this week. } *When the actor is unknown or unimportant or you want to hide the actor, use passive voice. 10
  • PunctuationCheck for . . .CommasSemicolonsColonsApostrophes 11
  • Understanding ClausesIndependent clause• Can stand on its own { } as a sentence• Receives the most emphasis Because Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty, theyDependent clause do not lie, cheat or steal.• Is a sentence fragment• Adds extra information 12
  • Dependent Clause Indicators A clause will be dependent if it starts with words like because, if, when, while, since, that, which, who, as, or a preposition.{ Since I go to Texas A&M, I follow the Aggie Honor Code. }*Prepositions are anything an Aggie can do at Kyle Field. 13
  • Comma Splice ErrorJoining complete sentences (independentclauses) with a comma Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal, they believe in honesty and loyalty. Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty, therefore, they do not lie, cheat or steal. 14
  • Run-on ErrorJoining complete sentences (independentclauses) with no punctuation Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal they believe in honesty and loyalty. Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty therefore, they do not lie, cheat or steal. 15
  • To Correct These Errors...1. Comma + coordinating conjunction{,} Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal, for they believe in honesty and loyalty. Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty, so they do not lie, cheat or steal.*What’s a coordinating conjunction?[for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so—FANBOYS] 16
  • To Correct These Errors...2. Period{.} Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal. They believe in honesty and loyalty. Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal. For they believe in honesty and loyalty. 17
  • To Correct These Errors...3. Semicolon{;} Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal; they believe in honesty and loyalty. Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty; therefore, they do not lie, cheat or steal. 18
  • Transitions with SemicolonsWords like however, therefore, in addition,nevertheless, whereas, and thus can be usedwith semicolons to make transitions.{;} Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal; however, nobody’s perfect. Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal; thus, they have an Honor Code. 19
  • Semicolons & ColonsSemicolons Separate two complete sentences (second sentence NOT capitalized){;} Used in lists where there are two commas within the items of the listColons Set apart a complete sentence from an example or list{:} He checked out three books: Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Airframe. 20
  • Use Coordination for BalanceCoordinate sentences to have balanced partsthat are given equal emphasis.• Two sentences joined by a semi-colon• Two sentences joined by a comma plus a coordinate conjunction (FANBOYS){ Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal; they believe in honesty and loyalty. } 21
  • Subordinate Ideas with CommasThe emphasis goes to the complete sentenceor independent clause. Because Aggies believe in honesty and{,} loyalty, they do not lie, cheat or steal. Because they do not lie, cheat or steal, Aggies believe in honesty and loyalty. 22
  • Commas & Who, Which, ThatIf the phrase or clause is essential to thesentence’s meaning, do not use commas. The Aggie wearing the Maroon Out shirt{,} is my brother. The Aggie who is wearing the Maroon Out shirt is my brother. 23
  • Commas & Who, Which, ThatIf the word, phrase, or clause is notessential for your sentence to make the senseyou want, use commas.{,} The Aggie, wearing the Maroon Out shirt, is my brother. The Aggie, who is wearing the Maroon Out shirt, is my brother. 24
  • Commas & Introductory ElementsWhen using an introductory word, phrase, ordependent clause to begin a sentence, use acomma.{,} During the last thirteen football seasons, I have seen every Aggie home game. However, I have seen every Aggie home game. 25
  • UWC Jeopardy Grammar and Punctuation The court Name that The pause that The pen is Potpourri rules blooper! refreshes mightier than the rule 100 100 100 100 100 200 200 200 200 200 300 300 300 300 300 400 400 400 400 400 500 500 500 500 500End Bank 26
  • The court rules for 100Two complete sentences (punctuated asone) with no punctuation between them.
  • The court rules for 200Two or more complete sentences not startedwith “and, or, for, but, yet, so” and joinedwith a comma.
  • The court rules for 300One subject, one verb (predicate), andit stands alone.
  • The court rules for 400“Between you and I”
  • The court rules for 500One independent clause + one dependentclause.
  • Name that blooper! for 100Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake”!
  • Name that blooper! for 200Warm and plump, Mary Beth inhaled thelong-awaited hot dog.
  • Name that blooper! for 300My parents bought a house from a man withno inside plumbing.
  • Name that blooper! for 400 Either are correct.
  • Name that blooper! for 500The perfect Martini uses equal parts dry andsweet Vermouth, having no more than oneounce of water or ice, and is always madewith gin instead of vodka.
  • Pause that refreshes for 100The punctuation mark used to separateitems in a series.
  • Pause that refreshes for 200The punctuation mark that separates twocomplete sentences and that is not a period,dash, or colon.
  • Pause that refreshes for 300It can be used to introduce a long list.
  • Pause that refreshes for 400One of three ways to fix a run-on sentence.
  • Pause that refreshes for 500A punctuation mark that is often substitutedfor the colon or comma and is consideredless formal.
  • The pen is mightier for 100Sometimes you have to make exceptions. Nokidding.
  • The pen is mightier for 200The policemen, firemen, and mailmen hadgathered to honor fallen heroes.
  • The pen is mightier for 300Who did you call last night?
  • The pen is mightier for 400It was the best of times, it was the worst oftimes, it was the age of wisdom, it was theage of foolishness.
  • The pen is mightier for 500To boldly go where no one has gone before.
  • Potpourri for 100Michael Crichton combines scientificalinformation with enthralling literature in hisbooks.
  • Potpourri for 200Simple, compound, complex, andcompound-complex
  • Potpourri for 300In spite of its name, it won’t catch spellingerrors like “there” for “their.”
  • Potpourri for 400Is Bob dead, did something break?
  • Potpourri for 500If we cooperate together, we can fulfill thenecessary requirements.
  • The court rules Name that blooper!1. Run on 1. Exclamation point goes inside2. Comma splice quote (part of quoted material)3. Sentence 2. Dangling modifier4. Incorrect case (objective after 3. Misplaced modifier preposition) 4. Subject-verb disagreement5. Complex sentence 5. List not in parallel structure The pause that refreshes The pen is mightier than the rule 1. Comma 2. Semi-colon (;) 1. Rhetorically effective fragment 3. Colon (:) 2. Discriminatory language 4. Period, semi-colon, 3. Acceptable use of who; less formal than whom comma with 4. Parallel structure coordinating 5. Acceptable split infinitive conjunction Potpourri 5. Dash 1. A word that is not a word 2. Types of sentences 3. Spell-check 4. Comma splice 5. Wordy sentence 52
  • For More Help… Visit our website or call us to schedule an appointment. We can help you find answers to any of your grammar and punctuation questions! 53
  • We’ll help you find the write words. U N I V E R S I T Y J X I G Z P O E N H B W D E T L Q I L R D R C K K K P P T RCheck us out on… T I V R M X S T X J P T B C Z P B Y O U C I S K E W V J D A E N S I N N Q O G P E G I C J C T O B Y P X E G K G V E F G B S R M C E V Q R M214 Evans Library | 205 West Campus Librarywritingcenter.tamu.edu | 979-458-1455 54