Part 1 (Essay 1—Comma Errors and Corrections)
This week we learned and practiced all of the comma rules! I did not count off heavily for comma usage on your first essay because we had not yet studied them in detail. However, I will look more closely at your comma usage for upcoming essays. Commas are tricky, so we are going to practice them here, in addition to our quiz this week.
Take a close look at your first essay. Now that you know the comma rules, do you see any instances in your paper where you added a comma that did not belong? Did you omit a comma where you should have included one? My guess is that you probably did both, and that is OK!
In this part, I would like for you to share some sentences from your essay where these errors occurred. Then tell us which comma rules explain why this is wrong. Next, fix your error. (Include more than one sentence, if you wish, to help you reach the required word count.) You MUST use the Comma handout under Resources for this exercise. Do not surf the web for comma rules, make up your own rules, or use another source. Also, your returned/graded essay is NOT required. YOU must find these errors.
In my first paragraph, I wrote the following sentence. “I like to watch the show Ghost Adventures because of the investigators, the places they visit and the paranormal theme.” This is incorrect because I should have included a comma before the last-named item. The rule that explains this is the “items in a series rule.” The corrected sentences is as follows. “I like to watch the show Ghost Adventures because of the investigators, the places they visit, and the paranormal theme.”
In the rare event that you do not find any comma errors, please share sentences where you used commas correctly and which rules apply.
Part 2 (Other Comma Rules)
Using a rule that you did NOT discuss in Part 1, create a new sentence that demonstrates proper comma usage. Please include the rule you are demonstrating. You may include more than one sentence and rule to help you reach your word count.
“During the winter, I wear socks every day because my feet stay so cold.” I put a comma after winter because the first three words of my sentence are an “introductory word group.”
Part 3 (Checking In)
We mentioned writing anxieties during week one, and I am bringing this up again simply to check on you. Are you doing OK with the writing process at this point? Are the tips and instructions provided thus far in this course helping to eliminate anxiety? If you are nervous or want to discuss anything with the class, please feel free to share here. You may also comment that you are doing just fine, or you may Message me privately if you do not wish to share your thoughts with everyone. However, please do comment at least briefly here in order to receive forum credit.
Tips for student replies: It will likely be a little harder for you to comment on Parts 1 and 2, so feel free to comment only on Part 3, if you wish. Maybe there is an idea you can offer to your fellow student to help with his/her writing issues. For example, if they mention that they are easily distracted, perhaps you could ask them if they have tried writing in a quiet room or a library. Hope this helps!
The grading rubric for this forum is attached below. Please understand that no single rubric can cover every issue. Your instructor will adjust the scores on the rubric and elaborate on the categories as needed. (For example, additional points might be deducted if you do not respond to those who have responded to your initial post.) Read your instructor’s comments very carefully for clarification regarding each deduction. Click on “View Full Description” to be sure you have met all other forum requirements.
Quick Comma Reference Sheet For more information, visit the following links or the book listed below.
A Pocket Style Manual http://pages.mail.bfwpub.com/hackerhandbooks/handbooks/ Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 259-269. (or the most current edition)
You may also consult https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/ , a free website, for comma information.
Here is an overview of the rules: 1. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses.
The Thanksgiving meal was delicious, and nearly everyone had a second helping.
Do not use a comma before a coordinating conjunction if one clause is dependent. I hope you can come but will understand if you cannot. 2. Use a comma after an introductory word group. When I am hungry, I like to eat chips and salsa. 3. Use a comma between all items in a series. I went to the store to buy eggs, milk, and cheese. 4. Use a comma between coordinate adjectives. (Adjectives are coordinate if they can be joined with the word and. Mary is a strong and beautiful woman.) Mary is a strong, beautiful woman. Do not use commas between cumulative adjectives. (Adjectives are cumulative if they cannot be joined with the word and. Three and large and dark figures moved toward us.)
Three large dark figures moved toward us. 5. “Certain word groups that modify nouns or pronouns can be restrictive or nonrestrictive—that is, essential or not essential to the meaning of a sentence. These word groups are usually adjective clauses [defined below], adjective phrases [phrase = less than a complete sentence, like ‘being one’s own boss’], or appositives [defined below]” (Hacker 262).
RESTRICTIVE ELEMENTS Do not use commas to set off restrictive elements (essential to the meaning of a sentence).
The clothes that the children were asked to purchase for gym class were expensive.
Doctors who specialize in eyes are called ophthalmologists.
NONRESTRICTIVE ELEMENTS Use commas to set off nonrestrictive elements (those that are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence). Nonrestrictive or parenthetical elements can be removed from a sentence, and the sentence will still have the same meaning. Most parents buy their children new school clothes, which can be expensive.
The doctors, who worked as a team in defining her eye problems, were very informed.
ADJECTIVE CLAUSES “Adjective clauses are patterned like sentences, containing subjects and verbs, but they function within sentences as modifiers of nouns or pronouns. They always follow the word they modify, usually immediately. Adjective clauses begin with a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, which, that) or a relative adverb (where, when)” (Hacker 263). The same restrictive or non-restrictive rules apply with these. Restrictive (no commas) The house that is located at 300 Brownsferry Street is for sale. Non-restrictive (use commas) Jody’s house, which he bought several years ago, is for sale. As a general rule, you can remember to use a comma before the word which but not before the word that in these types of sentences.
ADJECTIVE PHRASES Restrictive:
I went into the attic of the historical home and found records proving that the home was once used as a hotel. (no comma before proving)
The airplane, with its loud engine roaring, took off.
APPOSITIVES Use commas to set off nonrestrictive appositives (words that rename a nearby noun).
Darwin’s most important book, Origin of Species, was a revolutionary contribution to science. (nonrestrictive) The song “God Bless America” was played at the parade. (restrictive, no commas)
6. Use commas to set off (a) transitional expressions; (b) parenthetical expressions; (c) absolute phrases; and (d) contrasted elements.
(a) “Transitional expressions serve as bridges between sentences or parts of sentences” (Hacker 265).
However, they needed more help than they received.
I received fifty dollars in cash; however, that was not enough to buy the gift. (“However” is used as a conjunctive adverb in this sentence and requires a semicolon and a comma.) Teaching is a wonderful profession; the sad truth for some, though, is that the pay is not enough.
(b) The cat weighed seven pounds, give or take a few ounces. Parenthetical- type expressions provide supplemental/additional information.
(c) Absolute phrases are phrases that modify the whole sentence.
Her course requirements at last completed, Heather graduated from college.
(d) (beginning with not, never, or unlike) Unlike Nicole, Stephanie loves to dance.
7. Use commas to set off nouns of direct address: Forgive me, Mom, for I accidentally broke your vase.
For yes and no: Yes, I like the house very much. No, you may not go outside. For interrogative tags: The house is blue, isn’t it? For mild interjections: Man, I can’t believe that I made an A on the exam. For quotations: Mr. Brown said, “I am an engineer.” “This a worthwhile program,” said the president of the company. With dates: On June 19, 1982, my sister was born. The plan went into effect on 19 October 2001. (no commas) October of 2000 was a particularly hot month. (no commas) With addresses: John Smith was born in Liverpool, England, in 1970.
Please send the package to me at 800 East Street, Decatur, Alabama 35601. (Notice there is no comma between the state and zip code.)
With titles that FOLLOW a name: Dana White, M.D., performed the surgery. Numbers:
In numbers of more than four digits, use commas to separate the numbers into groups of three, starting from the right. In numbers that are four digits long, the comma is optional.
3,500 or 3500 100,000 5,000,000 8. Use a comma to prevent confusion. Patients who can, walk up and down the halls throughout the day.
To err is human; to forgive, divine. The word “is” has been omitted in this sentence, so a comma makes the omission clear (Hacker 269).