Writing Sentences

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  • 1. The Comma
    The New Well-Tempered
    Sentence
    by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • 2. "The war in Iraq will be recorded as nothing more than a ‘comma’ in the history books.”
    George Bush II
  • 3. Clause: Contains a subject and verb
    I fondled his lapel.
    I fondled his lapel, and I caressed his socks.
    When I fondled his lapel and caressed his socks, I couldn’t breathe.
  • 4. The Complete Subject
    My name is Jean-Pierre.
    The girl is squatting under the bridge.
    The werewolf had a toothache.
    He was caught.
    The contraption shut.
  • 5. The Simple Subject
    My name is Jean-Pierre.
    The girl is squatting under the bridge.
    The werewolf had a toothache.
    He was caught.
    The contraption shut.
  • 6. The Complete Predicate
    The part of the sentence that has something to say about the subject, that states its predicament.
    A debutante and a troll are squatting under the bridge.
  • 7. The Complete Predicate
    My name is Jean-Pierre.
    The girl is squatting under the bridge.
    The werewolf had a toothache.
    He was caught.
    The contraption shut.
  • 8. The Simple Predicate
    My name isJean-Pierre.
    The girl is squatting under the bridge.
    The werewolf had a toothache.
    He was caught.
    The contraption shut.
  • 9. Independent Clause:Contains a subject and verb and can stand alone as a sentence.
    I ruffled his hair, and I beseeched him to relent.
    She was kicked by the soft shoe of destiny.
    Her irony is getting rusty.
    He lifted her comatose toe in his palm, and he pronounced her over the scourge.
  • 10. Dependent Clause:Has subject and verb but cannot stand alone as a complete sentence and can function as an adjective or adverb.
    Before I caressed his socks….
    If she capitulates….
    As if she’d been raised by wolves…
    After the podiatrist pounced on her…
    If this is love….
    If you’ll let out the cat….
    It has a subject and verb but it cannot stand alone---it has a linking word that makes an independent clause necessary to complete the sentence.
  • 11. Adjective Clauses
    …are introduced by a relative pronoun: who, whom, whose, whoever, whomever, that, which and sometimes are introduced by where, when or why.
    The dowager who struck the match was a pyromaniac.
    (restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses)
  • 12. Adverb Clauses
    Cause: As, because, inasmuch as, now that, since
    Comparison: As, as if, more than, rather than
    Concession: Although, even if , even though, though
    Condition: But that, except that, if, if only, in case, provided that, unless, whether
    Manner: As, as if, as though
    Place: where, wherever
    Purpose: In order that, so, so that, that
    Result: So that
    Time: after, as, as soon as, before, since, till, until, when, whenever, while
  • 13. Phrases: Do not have a subject and verb
    The rats in drag, on the lam, struggled with their luggage into the coach.
    The simple subject-verb:
    The rats struggled.
    The drama takes place in the prepositional phrases.
  • 14. Simple sentence: One independent clause
    The lithium worked.
  • 15. Complex Sentence: One independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
    As the lithium took effect, the mania subsided.
  • 16. Compound Sentence: Two or more independent clauses
    The lithium worked, and the mania subsided.
  • 17. Compound-Complex Sentence: Two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses
    As the lithium took effect, the mania subsided and the depression lifted.
  • 18. Punctuating Sentences
    Dependent clause, independent clause [comma and conjunction] or [semicolon] independent clause dependent clause.
    The above model is a common pattern for punctuating sentence; however, there are many exceptions and variations, depending on the number and style of phrases used in conjunction with the clauses.
  • 19. The comma is used to link and at the same time separate independent clauses of equal value that are short and have no commas within them.
    He howled, he flailed, he groaned.
  • 20. A comma comes between two independent clauses joined by coordinating or correlative conjunctions, such as and, but, or, nor, neither, yet, for or .
    This creates what is called a compound sentence.
    You crossed my mind, but you didn’t stay there.
    He told her that he belonged to another, yet his pajamas clung to her tights.
  • 21. Two short independent clauses joined by and can get along without a comma.
    You tell me and we’ll both know.
    He wanted cash and she wanted thrills.
  • 22. When the subject is stated only once, but has two actions, or verbs, a comma may help bridge them if the conjunction between them is but.
    She always carries bandages with her, but will give them only to bleeding people to whom she has been formally introduced.
    In similar situations, where two or more verbs have the same subject and are joined by and, no comma is necessary.
    She woke up and gave the world a hurt look.
  • 23. A comma is needed after a dependent clause, usually a fairly long one, that precedes an independent clause.
    If you let out the cat, I’ll let out the last word.
  • 24. A restrictive dependent clause (a clause that would alter the meaning of the main clause if omitted) that follow a main clause should not be set off by a comma.
    We’ll bring on the incense and priests once we have these mastodons under control.
  • 25. Adverbial Phrases
    An adverbial phrase is a group of related words which play the role of an adverb.  Like all phrases, an adverbial phrase does not include a subject and a verb.
    Adverbial phrases and clauses are usually accompanied by a comma or two, depending upon their placement in a sentence. An adverbial phrase at the beginning of the sentence is followed by a comma.
    From the right, the moon rises like a proud tangerine.
  • 26. But the comma is often omitted after short introductory adverbial phrases.
    At dawn the sun began to rise.
  • 27. When an introductory adverbial phrase appears immediately before the verb it modifies, no comma is required because the relationship is clear.
    Out of the bushes appeared a well-dressed man with his head underneath his arm.
  • 28. A comma comes before and after an adverbial phrase or clause occurring in the middle of a sentence between the subject and verb.
    The goat, after eating her lederhosen, started in on her Durrenmatt.
  • 29. Adjective clauses
    Two purposes: restrictive and on-restrictive.
    A restrictive clause, as its name announces, actually changes or specifically modifies the subject or object it identifies. No commas cut it off from the noun or pronoun it belongs with.
    The guys who are bald are made to sit on the south side of the room.
  • 30. Nonrestrictive phrases and clauses giving descriptive information not essential to the meaning of the sentence are set off by commas.
    Raymond, who usually wears overalls, showed up in a green kimono.
  • 31. Phrases of all varieties generally go about with commas as sidekicks or confidants.
    To get the rest of it off your chest, you would have to remove your shirt.
  • 32. Absolute phrases—phrases composed of a noun or pronoun plus a participle—that are not joined to the rest of the sentence are set off by commas.
    Her hands being cold, she plunged them into her inadequate pockets.
  • 33. No comma separates the subject and predicate when their usual order is switched. Comma
    NOT: Of the utmost urgency on our agenda were, an interview with a raven, a rack of new nightgowns, a visit with our podiatrist, and a trip.
    BUT: of the utmost urgency on our agenda were and interview with a raven, a rack of new nightgowns, a visit….
  • 34. Use commas to set off the person or persons spoken to in direct address.
    Come here, Nicolas, and hold my mouth shut with your big, spring-loaded hands.
  • 35. Appositives—words that follow a noun or pronoun and identify it—are usually set off by commas if they are nonrestrictive (add parenthetical information).
    Yolanta, the friend of detractors and sycophants alike, was waylaid by three brigands with fans.
  • 36. A comma is used between two adjectives when they modify the same noun and the word and can be inserted between them without altering the meaning.
    He wanted to eat her peachy, creamy complexion with his souvenir spoon from Yellowstone Park.
  • 37. If the first adjective modifies the idea set forth by the second adjective and the noun combined, no comma is used between the adjectives.
    Her dull gold eyelids lifted heavily and fluttered one final coquettish farewell.
  • 38. A comma follows the exclamatory oh but not the vocative O.
    Oh, how ridiculous!
    O Angel of Death…
  • 39. A comma is used to set off conjunctive adverbs, such as however, moreover, etc., and transitional adverbs.
    We hate your ideas; however, we will give them proper consideration.
    What is love, after all, but a cross between two wishes?
  • 40. Use commas to set off interjections, however mild, transitional adverbs, and other expressions that cause a break in the flow of thought.
    Yes, we do toenails and teeth.
    Are you, perhaps, something less than sated?
  • 41. Two or more complementary or antithetical phrases referring to a single word that follows them should be set off from one another and from the following words by commas.
    His delicate, though at the same time rough, cheek brushed against her sleeve and ripped it to silken shreds.
  • 42. An antithetical phrase or clause starting with not should be set off by commas if it is unessential to the meaning of the modified element.
    I came to you, not to hear your stories, but to bounce upon your knee.
  • 43. Interdependent antithetical clauses should be set off by a comma.
    The lower she sank, the better she felt.
  • 44. Short antithetical phrases, though, do not require commas.
    The sooner the better.
    The more the merrier.
  • 45. Three or more elements in a series are separated by commas. When the last two elements in a series are joined by a conjunction, a comma comes before the conjunction—unless you’re a journalist.
    The rest of the story can be figured out by gossip, slander, and false report.
  • 46. When elements in a series are very simple and are all joined by conjunctions no commas are used.
    Blood and sweat and tears are all equally delectable to that renegade vampire.
  • 47. A comma is used after terms such as that is, i.e., e.g., and namely when they are used to introduce a series or an example.
    I advise you to split, i.e., beat it, get out, if out know what’s good for you and your howling family.