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Grammar & Punctuation for Writers
that you otter know!
What do you think about when you hear the
words grammar and punctuation?
What They’re Not
• Something you just get “right”
or “wrong”
• Universal or set in stone
• An ancient religion with
mythic...
What They Are
• Signposts—something that
guides and keeps your reader
from getting distracted
• Specific to discipline or ...
$100 $100 $100 $100 $100
$200 $200 $200 $200 $200
$300 $300 $300 $300 $300
$400 $400 $400 $400 $400
$500 $500 $500 $500 $5...
My iPhone is cracked I can’t afford a
new one.
Two sentences joined together, or a run-on
sentence.
Back to Board Explana...
Elementary, Watson for $200
I like my iPhone, my mother prefers
her Droid, though.
Two or more complete sentences joined w...
Elementary, Watson for $300
The subject [actor] and verb [refuse] do not
correlate, or subject-verb disagreement.
Back to...
Elementary, Watson for $400
Neither of the girls brought their
umbrella even though it was raining.
The pronoun [their] an...
Elementary, Watson for $500
The raft of sea otters hunted their
prey, unsuspecting crabs.
The pronoun [their] that replace...
Do It Yourself for $100
There are three ways to go about fixing a run-on
sentence. Name one.
I am hungry I have no food.
...
When you use sources, you must pay attention to
quote integration. How would you fix this?
Golden argues that wind energy ...
This sentence has a misplaced modifier, or
information in the wrong order. Can you fix it?
My parents bought a dog from a ...
This sentence has an issue with punctuating the
quote. Can you fix it?
“It is getting late”, she said worryingly.
“It is g...
This sentence has some issues with possessives.
Can you identify and fix the error?
The customer’s heads were pelted by
th...
We Built this Sentence for $100
A complex sentence has an independent clause and
one or more dependent clauses. Can you fi...
This sentence has an introductory phrase that is
confusing without a comma. Where would you put
the comma so the reader ge...
You use a comma with a conjunction, (ex: , and) when
you join two complete sentences. Which of these
follows that pattern?...
Use “that” when the information is necessary.
Use “, which” when it is additional. Which is the better
choice here?
The do...
Pause that refreshes for 500
An non-restrictive clause adds extra information but
doesn’t restrict the main point of a sen...
It’s All Relative for $100
We went to the mall, the grocery store, and
the gas station.
or
We went to the mall, the grocer...
A _____ _____ exists to make a
point instead of actually asking a
question. Who knew?
Rhetorical questions can add emphasi...
There are three ways of setting off this additional
information from the rest of the sentence. What is one?
The recipe giv...
This sentence needs a coordinating conjunction. What
makes sense to join these two clauses?
We were hungry, ___ we went ou...
The elephants were studied.
or
We studied the elephants.
Both are correct! The use of active and passive voice
depends on ...
Love It or List It for $100
What punctuation could you use to introduce this list?
There are three! Name one.
We combined ...
When making a list, use a colon only when you are
joining the list to a complete sentence. How would
you fix this?
The all...
Items in a list read better if they are parallel. If they are
verbs, for example, use the same tense. How would you
fix th...
In a list, each item must be parallel, meaning it should
be the same part of speech. How would you fix this?
A magnifying ...
Using semicolons in between complicated list items can
clarify meaning. Where would you add them here?
There are two wines...
Run-on Sentence
Otters are adorable animals they live in
rivers and oceans.
Otters are adorable animals. They live in
rive...
Comma Splice
When two complete sentences (independent
clauses) are joined with a only comma
Otters are the cutest animals,...
Fixing a Comma Splice
1. Period + begin a new sentence
2. Semicolon
3. Comma + coordinating conjunction
Otters are the cut...
Subject and Verb Agreement
The subject and verb should agree with each
other; be careful of the words that come
between th...
Pronouns should agree with the nouns they
replace; factors include number and gender.
Noun and Pronoun Agreement
All eleph...
Collective Nouns
 Back to Board
The raft of sea otters spends its time floating
on the waves and hunting for prey.
The ra...
Correcting a Run-On Sentence
1. Period + begin a new sentence
2. Semicolon
3. Comma + coordinating conjunction
{,}
 Back ...
{ }
Quote Integration
 Back to Board
Quotes included within sentences give them
context and value in your writing. As par...
Misplaced Modifier
A modifier should be placed as closely as
possible next to the noun it modifies.
The keepers cared for ...
Quote Punctuation
A quote’s punctuation is inside the quotation
marks. There are some exceptions with citations.
“I love m...
Singular and Plural Possessives
 Back to Board
A possessive form will change depending on
whether it is singular or plura...
Understanding Clauses
Independent Clause
• Can stand on its
own as a sentence
• Is emphasized
Dependent Clause
• Is a sent...
Commas & Introductory Elements
When using an introductory word, phrase, or
clause, use a comma.
For the last two years, I ...
Using “and” versus “, and”
 Back to Board
You only use a conjunction with a comma to join
two complete sentences, meaning...
If the phrase or clause is essential to the
sentence’s meaning, do not use commas and use
that or who. If it is additional...
Non-restrictive Clauses
A non-restrictive clause offers extra information but
doesn’t restrict the subject. It can tell us...
Serial Comma
The serial or Oxford comma is only essential if
your citation style or professor requires it.
The official co...
Rhetorical Questions
 Back to Board
A rhetorical question is a question that is not
meant to be answered. Instead, it mak...
Commas, Dashes, Parentheses
All three set off information in a sentence,
but each has a different effect on the reader.
Th...
Conjunctions
Conjunctions show the relationship between
different parts of a sentence.
Coordinating
Conjunctions
FANBOYS
f...
{ }
Active and Passive Voice
If the subject is more important than the
action, use active voice. If the action is more
imp...
Introducing a List
Comma Punctuation sets apart a
sentence from an example or list.
The student took three courses, biolog...
Context for Lists
 Back to Board
Here we have the three most
popular animals: otters,
pandas, and elephants.
These animal...
Parallelism for Verbs
The student wanted to go to lunch, pick up
some textbooks, and grab a cup of coffee.
The students we...
Parallelism for Other Parts of Speech
 Back to Board
As the athlete ran for the ball, the fans
cheered on the team, the c...
Semicolons in Lists
 Back to Board
You can replace a comma with a semicolon
to create clarity in complex lists.
The table...
For More Help…
Visit our website or
call us to schedule
an appointment.
We can help you
find answers to any
of your gramma...
Grammar and Punctuation for Writers
Grammar and Punctuation for Writers
Grammar and Punctuation for Writers
Grammar and Punctuation for Writers
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Grammar and Punctuation for Writers

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This workshop is structured around a Jeopardy! game that covers basic punctuation and grammar issues, such as commas, subject-verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, and style choices. Each question has an optional explanation screen that goes into detail about the rule or guideline discussed. Students are encouraged to ask questions to clarify meaning or further explain the error discussed.

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Grammar and Punctuation for Writers

  1. 1. Grammar & Punctuation for Writers that you otter know!
  2. 2. What do you think about when you hear the words grammar and punctuation?
  3. 3. What They’re Not • Something you just get “right” or “wrong” • Universal or set in stone • An ancient religion with mythical rules • The most essential part of your paper
  4. 4. What They Are • Signposts—something that guides and keeps your reader from getting distracted • Specific to discipline or genre • Fluid and flexible as language changes • Only one essential part of your paper
  5. 5. $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $200 $200 $200 $200 $200 $300 $300 $300 $300 $300 $400 $400 $400 $400 $400 $500 $500 $500 $500 $500 Elementar y, Watson Do It Yourself We Built This Sentence It’s All Relative Love It or List It
  6. 6. My iPhone is cracked I can’t afford a new one. Two sentences joined together, or a run-on sentence. Back to Board Explanation → Elementary, Watson for $100 Identify the error
  7. 7. Elementary, Watson for $200 I like my iPhone, my mother prefers her Droid, though. Two or more complete sentences joined with just a comma, or a comma splice error. Back to Board Explanation → Identify the error
  8. 8. Elementary, Watson for $300 The subject [actor] and verb [refuse] do not correlate, or subject-verb disagreement. Back to Board Explanation → The self-absorbed actor always refuse to say the proper lines. Identify the error
  9. 9. Elementary, Watson for $400 Neither of the girls brought their umbrella even though it was raining. The pronoun [their] and the antecedent [neither] do not correlate, or pronoun-antecedent disagreement. Back to Board Explanation → Identify the error
  10. 10. Elementary, Watson for $500 The raft of sea otters hunted their prey, unsuspecting crabs. The pronoun [their] that replaces a collective noun [raft] is not in agreement, or a collective noun / pronoun error. Back to Board Explanation → Identify the error
  11. 11. Do It Yourself for $100 There are three ways to go about fixing a run-on sentence. Name one. I am hungry I have no food. Back to Board Explanation → . ; , and
  12. 12. When you use sources, you must pay attention to quote integration. How would you fix this? Golden argues that wind energy is the future. “It’s our best option right now.” Golden argues that wind energy is the future because “it’s our best option right now.” Back to Board Explanation → Do It Yourself for $200
  13. 13. This sentence has a misplaced modifier, or information in the wrong order. Can you fix it? My parents bought a dog from a man that was not potty-trained. My parents bought a dog that was not potty-trained from a man. Back to Board Explanation → Do It Yourself for $300
  14. 14. This sentence has an issue with punctuating the quote. Can you fix it? “It is getting late”, she said worryingly. “It is getting late,” she said worryingly. Back to Board Explanation → Do It Yourself for $400
  15. 15. This sentence has some issues with possessives. Can you identify and fix the error? The customer’s heads were pelted by the rain. The customers’ heads were pelted by rain. Back to Board Explanation → Do It Yourself for $500
  16. 16. We Built this Sentence for $100 A complex sentence has an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. Can you find the part that can stand alone–the independent clause? As it was morning, I began to crave coffee and waffles. Back to Board Explanation→
  17. 17. This sentence has an introductory phrase that is confusing without a comma. Where would you put the comma so the reader gets it on the first read? Before eating the otters began to wash themselves and each other. Back to Board Explanation → We Built this Sentence for $200 ,
  18. 18. You use a comma with a conjunction, (ex: , and) when you join two complete sentences. Which of these follows that pattern? We went to the store, and picked up milk. or We went to the store, and we picked up milk. Back to Board Explanation → We Built this Sentence for $300
  19. 19. Use “that” when the information is necessary. Use “, which” when it is additional. Which is the better choice here? The dog that stole the steak was in trouble. or The dog, which stole the steak, was in trouble. Back to Board Explanation→ We Built this Sentence for $400
  20. 20. Pause that refreshes for 500 An non-restrictive clause adds extra information but doesn’t restrict the main point of a sentence. Which of these sentences contains a non-restrictive clause? Dogs that run away often should be kept indoors. or Dogs, which often run away, should be kept indoors. Back to Board Explanation → We Built this Sentence for $500
  21. 21. It’s All Relative for $100 We went to the mall, the grocery store, and the gas station. or We went to the mall, the grocery store and the gas station. Both are correct! The last comma before the conjunction, known as the serial comma, is optional. Back to Board Explanation →
  22. 22. A _____ _____ exists to make a point instead of actually asking a question. Who knew? Rhetorical questions can add emphasis, but just like anchovies on a pizza, a little goes a long way! Back to Board Explanation → It’s All Relative for $200
  23. 23. There are three ways of setting off this additional information from the rest of the sentence. What is one? The recipe given that it is from my abuela includes many Mexican ingredients. Back to Board Explanation → It’s All Relative for $300 , ( ) —
  24. 24. This sentence needs a coordinating conjunction. What makes sense to join these two clauses? We were hungry, ___ we went out to eat. Back to Board Explanation → It’s All Relative for $400 and so
  25. 25. The elephants were studied. or We studied the elephants. Both are correct! The use of active and passive voice depends on what you want to emphasize—the actor or the action. STEM fields tend to use more passive voice than humanities; social sciences can go either way. Back to Board Explanation → It’s All Relative for $500
  26. 26. Love It or List It for $100 What punctuation could you use to introduce this list? There are three! Name one. We combined three ingredients flour, water, and eggs. Back to Board Explanation → , : —
  27. 27. When making a list, use a colon only when you are joining the list to a complete sentence. How would you fix this? The alloy consists of: copper, aluminum, and iron. The alloy consists of three metals: copper, aluminum, and iron. Back to Board Explanation → Love It or List It for $200
  28. 28. Items in a list read better if they are parallel. If they are verbs, for example, use the same tense. How would you fix this? When we went camping, we pitched a tent, went hiking, and climbing mountains. When we went camping, we pitched a tent, went hiking, and climbed mountains. Back to Board Explanation → Love It or List It for $300
  29. 29. In a list, each item must be parallel, meaning it should be the same part of speech. How would you fix this? A magnifying glass can be used to see small print, tiny insects, and look for clues. A magnifying glass can be used to see small print, tiny insects, and clues.  Back to Board Explanation → Love It or List It for $400
  30. 30. Using semicolons in between complicated list items can clarify meaning. Where would you add them here? There are two wines, a red and a white, a checkered tablecloth, and a plate of prosciutto, salami, and cheese. Back to Board Explanation → Love It or List It for $500 ; ;
  31. 31. Run-on Sentence Otters are adorable animals they live in rivers and oceans. Otters are adorable animals. They live in rivers and oceans. When two complete sentences (independent clauses) are joined with no punctuation  Back to Board
  32. 32. Comma Splice When two complete sentences (independent clauses) are joined with a only comma Otters are the cutest animals, they can be found in rivers and oceans.  Back to Board
  33. 33. Fixing a Comma Splice 1. Period + begin a new sentence 2. Semicolon 3. Comma + coordinating conjunction Otters are the cutest animals. They can be found in rivers and oceans. Otters are the cutest animals; they can be found in rivers and oceans. Otters are the cutest animals, and they can be found in rivers and oceans.  Back to Board
  34. 34. Subject and Verb Agreement The subject and verb should agree with each other; be careful of the words that come between them! One of the cutest otters is swimming in circles in the aquarium. The animals at the aquarium, including the sea lions, are featured on advertisements.  Back to Board
  35. 35. Pronouns should agree with the nouns they replace; factors include number and gender. Noun and Pronoun Agreement All elephants have long trunks that they use to help get food and water. The keeper feeds the elephants every day as part of his or her schedule.*  Back to Board *Using their is becoming more accepted
  36. 36. Collective Nouns  Back to Board The raft of sea otters spends its time floating on the waves and hunting for prey. The raft of sea otters all swam for their homes when the orcas attacked. A collective noun as a group is singular so the pronoun is singular; it can also refer to the members, and the pronoun would be plural.
  37. 37. Correcting a Run-On Sentence 1. Period + begin a new sentence 2. Semicolon 3. Comma + coordinating conjunction {,}  Back to Board {;} I am hungry. I have no food. I am hungry; I have no food. I am hungry, and I have no food.
  38. 38. { } Quote Integration  Back to Board Quotes included within sentences give them context and value in your writing. As part of the sentence, a quote should flow easily. A colon can introduce an example. Golden argues that wind energy is the future given that “it’s our best option right now” (5). Golden argues that wind energy is the future: “it’s our best option right now” (5). Always cite where you got your quotes from!
  39. 39. Misplaced Modifier A modifier should be placed as closely as possible next to the noun it modifies. The keepers cared for the baby elephants with their own two hands. With their own two hands, the keepers cared for the baby elephants.  Back to Board
  40. 40. Quote Punctuation A quote’s punctuation is inside the quotation marks. There are some exceptions with citations. “I love math,” the student said (4). Original quote: I love math. The student said, “I love math” (4). Original quote: I love math. The student said, “I love math!” (4). Original quote: I love math!  Back to Board
  41. 41. Singular and Plural Possessives  Back to Board A possessive form will change depending on whether it is singular or plural. The teacher’s jackets were in the closet. The teachers’ jackets were in the closet. {s’}{’s} Look at the word to the left of the apostrophe. In the first, it is singular, so it is multiple jackets that belong to one teacher. In the second, it is plural, so it is multiple jackets that belong to multiple teachers.
  42. 42. Understanding Clauses Independent Clause • Can stand on its own as a sentence • Is emphasized Dependent Clause • Is a sentence fragment • Adds extra information Because red pandas look like raccoons, it is odd they are named after bears.  Back to Board
  43. 43. Commas & Introductory Elements When using an introductory word, phrase, or clause, use a comma. For the last two years, I have watched Disney movies instead of studying for final exams. Unfortunately, that means I never do as well as I should. {,}  Back to Board
  44. 44. Using “and” versus “, and”  Back to Board You only use a conjunction with a comma to join two complete sentences, meaning you need a subject and verb on either side of the conjunction. The sloths moved slowly during the day and slept much of the night. The sloths moved slowly during the day, and they slept much of the night.
  45. 45. If the phrase or clause is essential to the sentence’s meaning, do not use commas and use that or who. If it is additional, use commas and which or who. Commas with Which and That The tree over there that has the sloths in it is where we saw a toucan. The tree over there, which has the sloths in it, is where we saw a toucan. {,}  Back to Board
  46. 46. Non-restrictive Clauses A non-restrictive clause offers extra information but doesn’t restrict the subject. It can tell us more about the subject without changing the main point of the sentence. They’re usually separated by commas.  Back to Board My uncle, who loves baseball, bought tickets to the game. This assignment, which is due tomorrow, is difficult.
  47. 47. Serial Comma The serial or Oxford comma is only essential if your citation style or professor requires it. The official colors of the United States are red, white and blue. The official colors of the United States are red, white, and blue. {,} The most important thing is consistency.  Back to Board
  48. 48. Rhetorical Questions  Back to Board A rhetorical question is a question that is not meant to be answered. Instead, it makes a point. It can add emphasis to your argument. When I saw the child crying, I picked it up. Wouldn’t you? Who would want to live like that?{?} These questions are meant to make the audience think deeply about the issue or perhaps stir their emotions.
  49. 49. Commas, Dashes, Parentheses All three set off information in a sentence, but each has a different effect on the reader. The otters, my favorite animals, were the most popular exhibit at the zoo. The otters—my favorite animals—were the most popular exhibit at the zoo. The otters (my favorite animals) were the most popular exhibit at the zoo.  Back to Board
  50. 50. Conjunctions Conjunctions show the relationship between different parts of a sentence. Coordinating Conjunctions FANBOYS for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so Subordinating Conjunctions since, after, although, until, if, though, unless, while, once, when, because, before, as  Back to Board
  51. 51. { } Active and Passive Voice If the subject is more important than the action, use active voice. If the action is more important than the actor, use passive voice. The technicians measured the samples. The samples were measured by the technicians. Make the decision based on what you want to emphasize. If it makes no difference, go with active, which is considered more direct and strong.  Back to Board
  52. 52. Introducing a List Comma Punctuation sets apart a sentence from an example or list. The student took three courses, biology, composition, and Spanish. The student took three courses—biology, composition, and Spanish. The student took three courses: biology, composition, and Spanish. Colon {,} {:} Dash {−}  Back to Board
  53. 53. Context for Lists  Back to Board Here we have the three most popular animals: otters, pandas, and elephants. These animals are cuter as babies than adults—emus, sloths, and penguins. Before the punctuation for a list, you still need a complete sentence for context.
  54. 54. Parallelism for Verbs The student wanted to go to lunch, pick up some textbooks, and grab a cup of coffee. The students were jogging down the street, listening to music, and dodging traffic. In a series, it’s best to use the same type of grammatical structure for elements in the list. Make them parallel.  Back to Board
  55. 55. Parallelism for Other Parts of Speech  Back to Board As the athlete ran for the ball, the fans cheered on the team, the coach yelled encouragement, and the mascot sat placidly. Whether in class, at work, or at home, she always felt like she was behind on something. In a series, always use the same type of grammatical structure for elements in the list. Make them parallel.
  56. 56. Semicolons in Lists  Back to Board You can replace a comma with a semicolon to create clarity in complex lists. The tablecloth was covered in bottles of water, straight from the spring; vases of flowers that were fresh cut this morning; and beautiful pasta dishes, made from scratch. This is useful in comma-separated lists too: “I’ve lived in Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah.”
  57. 57. 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!

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