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Commas - Commas and Other Punctuation(Note many of the...

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Commas and Other Punctuation (Note: many of the examples in the following are taken from Richard Marius' A Writer's Companion , McGraw-Hill) The purpose of the workshop is to show you how to take a simple, complete sentence and vary its form by adding words, phrases or clauses to the basic sentence structure. To do this, you will learn some basic ways of using punctuation, particularly commas. The comma is the most frequently used punctuation mark, and so it is worth taking the trouble to use it correctly. You will practice recognizing run-on sentences and comma splices, a particular type of run-on, and learn techniques for correcting this common type of error. All of the more complex sentence structures that we will work with in this workshop have one thing in common: they are built upon a more basic unit, the simple sentence. Thus, it is important for this workshop that you know the difference between a complete sentence and a sentence fragment. Richard Marius: "To say that a sentence is complete is only to say that it makes sense. Most sentences make sense by naming a subject and making a statement about it." (Examples A-J are assembled together on the Basic Sentence Forms handout.) Example (A): Why are the following phrases incomplete sentences? After the game ended. Which was not what I had expected. A few seconds later. The first two examples here have a subject and a verb - so why are they incomplete? Example (B): What makes the following sentences complete? We went to Santa Monica for dinner. The battery exploded. Exercise A: Brainstorm to think of three or four examples of simple, complete sentences. Then provide an example of two sentence fragments, or incomplete sentences. Explain why they are incomplete. Using Commas to Vary Sentence Structure There are four types of sentence that require you to use a comma or commas. 1) Sentences with an introducer require a comma, especially if the introducer is more than two or three words (sometimes a short introducer referring to time or place may be used without a comma).
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Example (C): After the game ended, we went to Santa Monica for dinner. 2) A simple sentence that is interrupted by a word, phrase, or clause that is not an essential part of the sentence itself (an interrupter ) will be set off from the sentence by a pair of commas. Example (D): We decided, after lengthy arguments, to head to Santa Monica for dinner. Why do we not use commas in the following? Taxi drivers who drink on the job are irresponsible. 3) If a basic sentence is complete in itself, but has words, a phrase or a clause tacked on to the end, it contains a concluder . Notice that a concluder may or may not require the use of a single comma. A comma is generally needed if the phrase or clause refers back to the beginning or middle of the sentence or if it begins with a relative pronoun. No comma is needed with concluders that begin with subordinating conjunctions, unless they show extreme contrast ( although , unless ).
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