Today we are going tolook at commas…I’m sure you alreadyknow quite a lot abouthow to use commas -but how well do youuse them in practice?
What can youremember aboutwhen commasneed to be used?What is the pointof commas?
Key Uses of Commas• To separate items in a list when the comma can replace and – this simply makes writing less clumsy, e.g. I went to the shops and bought avocados, bananas, coconuts and dates.• To show where elements within a sentence join together – this is to help the reader work out how the different bits of information in each sentence fit together. So, correct use of commas is about making your meaning clear to the reader.
Commas in Long SentencesLet’s start with a shortdocumentary / slasherfilm on commas……. Commas Rule!
Now are you ready toslash some sentences?Well, before we get tothe gory action, like allprofessional killers, weneed to study ourvictims first!
Although he was allergic to furryanimals John agreed to look after RED = STAND UPKaterina’s hamster for the holiday BLACK = FACE BACK OF ROOMas he thought this might give him a BLUE = HEAD ONchance to get a date with her DESKdespite the fact that Katerina had GREEN = WAVE HANDS IN AIRtold her friends that she foundJohn boring.
Okay, now we’re ready to slash some sentences!
Although he was allergic to furryanimals John agreed to look afterKaterina’s hamster for the holiday as hethought this might give him a chance toget a date with her despite the fact thatKaterina had told her friends that shefound John boring.
Although he was allergic to furryanimals, John agreed to look afterKaterina’s hamster for the holiday, as hethought this might give him a chance toget a date with her, despite the fact thatKaterina had told her friends that shefound John boring.
As well as separating clauses that have been added onafter or before the main clause, commas can also beused for separating off clauses that have been, so tospeak, inserted or pushed into another clause:John, of course, agreed to lookafter Katerina’s hamster for theholiday Hello!John agreed to look after Katerina’shamster, a cute little brownAbyssinian called Fluffy, for theholiday
Why do we go to all this bother for a few squiggles on apage? Why does it matter?We find longsentences hard toprocess and can getlost – commas help usto sort out thedifferent bits ofinformation that makeup the sentence andhow they fit together
Activity 1: Chop Chop!Look at the sentences on thesheet and see if you cancorrectly identify where thecommas should go – find the‘core’ sentence at the heart ofthe longer sentence and thensee if you can separate all theadded and inserted bits ofinformation. Then you areready to CHOP!
Activity 2: Marking MassacreOf course, you still need towork out when you need afull stop rather than acomma.A sentence is where everything relates to the samepoint : in the hamster sentence, everything relates toJohn babysitting Katerina’s hamster. When you startto talk about something different or introduce a newpoint, then you need to end the first sentence with afull stop and start a new one.
Activity 3: Commas Save The DayNow for some fun with commas – not impossible!
Can you punctuate the following in two different waysto give two different meanings: The panda eats shoots and leaves HINT: one version turns the panda into a criminal!
The panda eats, shoots andleaves!ORThe panda eats shoots andleaves.
What about this phrase – what two ways canit be punctuated to create very differentmeanings?Don’t eat grandpaHINT: one version will turn us into cannibals!
Don’t eat, grandpa! ORDon’t eat grandpa!
A woman without her man is nothingHINT: Each version probably appeals to a differentgender! You may need a colon or hyphen in one version
A woman: withouther, man is nothing! OR A woman withouther man is nothing!Which do you prefer?
Let’s review!What have you learnt aboutcommas in long sentences?Let’s set a target?Try and use commas moreaccurately in your own work inyour next piece of writing –you never know, you might geta comma-endation!
Just a Little Extra Practice…..
Commas in lists are probably quite easy for you bynow, but let’s just check:Helena wanted to play basketball eatnoodles visit the Taj Mahal and learnKorean over the summer holidays.
Zain had to remember to buy ricebroccoli peanut butter a TV guide andbananas on his way home fromschool.
He applied to so many places for hiswork experience Boot’s Marks andSpencer’s Asda and even the localbutchers.