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Commas (Part Four)

Back to the basics with regular Challenge winner, Ann Grover. Weekly lessons to help you hone your basic writing skills.

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Anja
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Commas (Part Four)

Postby Anja » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:51 pm

Commas - Part Four


I said in another thread that if you say something before you get the main point of your sentence, add a comma. In other words, if you build a sentence backwards, add a comma.


In technical talk, use a comma after an introductory adverbial clause, verbal phrase, or absolute phrase.


When he got up in the morning, he made coffee. (Introductory Adverbial Clause)

Seeing my bus coming down the road, I ran to the bus stop. (Introductory Participial Phrase)

Upon hearing the terrible news, Sarah burst into tears. (Introductory Gerund Phrase)

To get an early start, we have to get up before 5 am. (Introductory Infinitive Phrase)

My tickets having been bought, I had no choice but to go. (Introductory Absolute Phrase)

Do you need to be able to identify the different kinds of phrases or clauses? No, life is too short. You DO need to recognize they are phrases / clauses and need to be set off with commas.

One way to identify the need for comma is to rearrange the sentence. This is what I mean by built backwards. The subject and predicate are not at the beginning of the sentence, like those examples given to us in Grade 3, when we had to underline the subject once and the predicate twice.

In these examples, the subject / predicate are AFTER the comma, with additional information coming first.

Each one can be said another way.

He made coffee when he got up in the morning.
Sarah burst into tears upon hearing the terrible news.
We have to get up before 5 am to get an early start.


The other two will still require a comma when reversed.

To tread on Jan’s territory a bit... It is important to USE as many sentence patterns as necessary or possible to add variety to your writing. It adds rhythm... emphasis... not just a “plodding along” cadence with the same kind of sentence structure and length all through. It is important to know, then, how to punctuate according to the sentence pattern.


Commas are used to set off certain parenthetical elements such as honestly, to tell the truth, unbelievably, regardless, in other words, afterwards...


Use a comma to prevent misreading the sentence.

To Mary, Elliot was an enigma. (Try that without the comma.)
Below, the sea crashed against the cliffs.


Use a comma to set off questions dependent on the independent clause.

They shoot horses, don’t they?
We don’t have any milk in the fridge, do we?
Lindsay Vonne won the downhill skiing event, didn’t she?



FINALLY, use a comma to separate sharply contrasted coordinate elements.

She was not meddling, only helping.


Homework - Make up a variety of sentences that require commas using any comma rules. Try five.
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Postby JesusPuppy » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:18 pm

Hi Ann.

I did the Tackle it Tuesday thingy on the FW Blog.. you know the story in 50 words or less. Tell me, how does it look to you. I had to cut off 300 words to get to meet the maximum word count allowed.

The course, brutal, flags sway, wind roaring. Dip, turn, skipping over the powdery surface. Flags disappear, only trees and blowing snow. Bump, twist, then darkness.

A warm room, his coach, a relieved look. “Another fifty meters..”

“Not bad for a one legged man,” slapping the stump of his left knee.
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And just for the record, I am a Male.

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Postby Anja » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:37 pm

JesusPuppy wrote:Hi Ann.

I did the Tackle it Tuesday thingy on the FW Blog.. you know the story in 50 words or less. Tell me, how does it look to you. I had to cut off 300 words to get to meet the maximum word count allowed.

The course, brutal, flags sway, wind roaring. Dip, turn, skipping over the powdery surface. Flags disappear, only trees and blowing snow. Bump, twist, then darkness.

A warm room, his coach, a relieved look. “Another fifty meters..”

“Not bad for a one legged man,” slapping the stump of his left knee.


Tackle It Tuesday? I must live under a rock.

Cut off 300 words? For a 50 word story? Wow, you done good!

The one thing that stands out to me is "parallelism."

The course, brutal, flags sway, wind roaring.

These two verbs aren't "parallel." They should be swaying / roaring OR sway / roars. Same with the next line... choose a form and be consistent.

I'd have a semicolon after "brutal" instead of a comma.

Instead of "a relieved look," you could just say "relief" and thereby give yourself two more words.

He would slap the stump of his left leg, not stump of his left knee. Maybe that's being picky.

Something awkward about saying "slapping" as you did..... not sure how to fix it. Maybe something like -

“Not bad for a one legged man." Stump of left leg tingles under satisfied slap.

That adds one more word, but you gain two if you use just "relief" in previous line.


Interesting... Tackle It Tuesday... mmm....
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Postby JesusPuppy » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:45 pm

Tackle It Tuesday? I must live under a rock.


Look in the Water Cooler.

I cut and cut and changed things until I finally got it down to the 50 words. Maybe if I had edited once more it would have been better, but getting that far down.... I stopped. :lol:

The course was brutal; flags swaying, wind roaring. Dips, turns, skipping over the powdery surface. Flags disappear, only trees and blowing snow. Bump, twist, then darkness.

A warm room, his coach-- relieved. “Another fifty meters..”

He slapped the stump at his left knee. “Not bad, for a one legged man.”
....JesusPuppy (or just call me Pup) Image

And just for the record, I am a Male.

"I am a writer, I do NOT lie... I fictionalise." JP

"The Lord Bless thee, and keep thee.." Num. 6:24

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Postby Green Leaves » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:57 am

Okay, I'll give this a shot:


Suddenly, without warning, I was doubled over in pain. After four hours in the emergency room, the doctors ordered a catscan which showed evidence of kidney stones. It was soon determined, however, that I would be admitted for further observation. Why had I just written that poem, "Blessed By Pain"? This wasn't one of God's little blessings, was it?


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Postby Anja » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:10 pm

Green Leaves wrote:Okay, I'll give this a shot:


Suddenly, without warning, I was doubled over in pain. After four hours in the emergency room, the doctors ordered a catscan which showed evidence of kidney stones. It was soon determined, however, that I would be admitted for further observation. Why had I just written that poem, "Blessed By Pain"? This wasn't one of God's little blessings, was it?


Carol Penhorwood


That's GREAT!

The only comma I would delete is the one after poem, since the title of the poem "Blessed by Pain" is ESSENTIAL information, right? The irony of it.

If the title or content of the poem didn't add anything to your paragraph, then you'd need a comma.

It is one of the most difficult things for ME to understand... I'm still trying to get my head around what makes something essential or non-essential, especially in phrases like "her husband, Glen." If it isn't done correctly, the implication is that there might be more than one husband, but the writer is referring only to the one named Glen.

You write "her son Joe" if there is more than one son and you need to clarify it's Joe and not Tom, Dick, or Harry. No commas, since it is essential. (Unless it's not... if it doesn't matter which son it was.)

I might be making it more difficult for myself (and you) than it is.
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Postby Green Leaves » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:00 pm

Thanks so much. I didn't KNOW that about the comma after poem. See how much you are helping me?

That IS confusing on the relationship business, isn't it? Not sure I have that down.

Carol
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"...not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.". Brother Lawrence

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Need Help

Postby flyingcross » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:15 am

Hi Ann,
I'm hoping the muddled up slowly unjumbles as I continue to plod away.


If God knows my heart, why don’t I listen? He’s been whispering, like a child playing with two cans on a string, I just can’t understand. Please speak up, forgive me, it’s just too hard to hear you. If my sins were washed away, why do I feel so tired? All I heard was ‘forgiven’, was that you God?


I am game, just sometimes I wonder if I'm playing the same one.
Thanks,
Cindy

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:26 am

Cindy, I'm popping into Ann's 'classroom' for a moment to tell you that she's on vacation--she left chilly Canada for a while to warm up in the South. She'll deal with your comma questions and your paragraph when she gets back!

Hmmmm, while the teacher's away...I think you all could get into some kind of mischief...
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Green Leaves » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:24 am

Hmm...teacher's away....hmmm....
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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:27 am

Maybe, you could, drive her, crazy by submitting, paragraphs with way, too many, commas.

Nah, that would just, be mean.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Green Leaves » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:48 am

:rolling
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"...not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.". Brother Lawrence

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Infectious

Postby flyingcross » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:51 pm

I, oh my, where, oh where, what, how could she, no, left us, oh my, oh my, could it be, yes, I think, they’ve run away on their own. I’ve seen it before, like, well, ummm, not sure, think the word is commatosis, a virulent infectious spreading of commas.

The only cure is known by Ann.
Hope you had fun.
Cindy

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Postby Green Leaves » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:04 pm

:lol:
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Re: Need Help

Postby Anja » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:26 pm

flyingcross wrote:

If God knows my heart, why don’t I listen? He’s been whispering, like a child playing with two cans on a string, I just can’t understand. Please speak up, forgive me, it’s just too hard to hear you. If my sins were washed away, why do I feel so tired? All I heard was ‘forgiven’, was that you God?


Hi, Cindy,
I'm going to ask you to try your paragraph again. Sort out the Complete Sentences and end those with a period. In some places, you can add a Conjunction (and, but, or) for variety and clarity.

You wrote a good challenging paragraph using a "querying" format. Makes for interesting uses of commas.

And the rest of you, funny funny! :rolling :heehee :tongue
Ann Grover

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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