I am assuming that either you have the previous concepts mastered, or no one knows about this forum, judging by the limited response.
I’m hoping today’s lesson will give you something more to chew on.
Commas - Part 3
Use a comma to separate independent clauses when they are joined by and, but, or, nor, so, and yet.
If the clauses are long / complicated, they may be joined by a semicolon instead. Caution: Make sure the clauses are INDEPENDENT CLAUSES before tossing a semicolon in there.
(I’ll be covering independent clauses and semi-colons another time.)
Church was over, but everyone stayed around for a fellowship time.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and we decided to go on a picnic.
Joe Brown broke his leg in the race last week, so he is unable to ski at the Olympic games.
Use commas to set off all NONESSENTIAL MODIFIERS. Do not use commas to set off ESSENTIAL MODIFIERS.
(I will also cover MODIFIERS later.)
Joanne Smith, who is wearing a bright yellow jacket, qualified for the downhill race. (Nonessential CLAUSE)
Joanne Smith, wearing the bright yellow jacket, qualified for the downhill race. (Nonessential PHRASE)
The girl who is wearing the bright yellow qualified for the downhill race. (ESSENTIAL Clause)
See the difference? In the first two, the information about Joanne, set off by the commas, could have been eliminated. It is NONessential for defining who Joanne is, as the focus is her qualification for the downhill race.
Using commas to set off NONessential phrases and clauses is a very common problem.
The people who are going to Haiti on the relief mission are required to have vaccinations.
No commas. Why not?
Try adding commas to find out.
The people, who are going to Haiti on the relief mission, are required to have vaccinations.
Now remove the nonessential phrase which has been set off by commas.
The people are required to have vaccinations.
The resulting sentence is vague. What people? All people? The people in Haiti? It is ESSENTIAL to specify which people.
Use commas to set off Nonessential APPOSITIVES. Sometimes, the appositive is SO closely LINKED to the word it follows that it is an essential element and, therefore, is not set off by commas.
(Again, we’ll cover APPOSITIVES later. It is not as necessary for you to know what an APPOSITIVE is as it is to recognize the pattern.)
The poet Byron wrote many poems about love and romance.
William the Conqueror fought the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Ivan the Terrible imposed many atrocities on the people of Russia.
Try adding the commas to this passage.
In the winter Geraldine had hot oatmeal brown sugar and milk for breakfast. After she ate she would bundle up in her work clothes and she would go out to do her chores. Yes even when it was forty below zero. She had to milk the cows feed the calves and gather the eggs. Often she had to use an axe to remove the ice from the water pails and she would need to shovel a path to the calf barn. Bossy the Cow would give her trouble by swishing her tail in Geraldine’s face bawling annoyingly and kicking over the milk pail.
“Bossy you are going to be the death of me” Geraldine would say and she would swat Bossy’s with her gloved hand.
Bossy who was a black and white Holstein would turn and look at Geraldine with baleful brown long-lashed eyes but she would go on frustrating Geraldine.
By the time Geraldine was finished she was sweaty tired and covered with filth. She was ready to go inside. Then she’d curl up with her favourite book Black Beauty and she’d treat herself to a cup of cocoa a cinnamon roll and a peanut butter sandwich.
There might be a few things we haven’t covered yet.
(It wasn't meant to be clever or imaginative. And it's Monday morning, okay?)
Last edited by Anja
on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel