Monday, June 8, 2009
If you're not up on your grammar definitions, check yesterday's post here.
So, now you know all about the basics definitions, and what makes a sentence be a sentence (hint: sentence = subject + predicate).
But how do you hook them together?
Note: You do NOT put commas just "wherever it feels natural to pause in the sentence." BECAUSE THAT MAKES NO SENSE AND YOUR ENGLISH TEACHERS LIED TO YOU.
Here's how I teach my tenth graders: the IC/DC rules. IC = independent clause, DC = dependent clause, cc = coordinating conjunction (and, but, or--etc.)
- IC DC.
- DC, IC.
- IC; IC.
- IC, cc IC.
That's it. Now you know grammar. See? Told ya it was simple.
OK, some explanation.
Rule 1: IC. Whenever you have an independent clause, all you need is a period at the end. IC.
Rule 2: IC DC. Whenever a dependent clause follows an independent clause, you don't need a comma, just a period at the end.
Rule 3: DC, IC. Whenever a dependent clause is in front of an independent clause, you DO need a comma to separate them.
Why? Because PUNCTUATON ALWAYS FOLLOWS A DEPENDENT CLAUSE.
Rule 4: If you're joining together two independent clauses, there needs to be a semicolon separating them, or...
Rule 5: You can also join together the two independent clauses with a comma + a conjunction.
- The monkey flings poo. One independent clause = only a period at the end.
- The monkey flings poo when he sees you. Independent clause is before the dependent clause. Punctuation follows the dependent clause, so there's only a period at the end, after the dependent clause.
- When he sees you, the monkey flings poo. Because the dependent clause is now at the beginning of the sentence, and because punctuation follows a dependent clause, then the comma has to go after the dependent clause.
- The monkey flings poo; he laughs at you. Two independent clauses--hook them together with a semicolon, or...
- The monkey flings poo, and he laughs at you. ...or you can join them together with a comma and a conjunction. Same difference.
Easy-peasy, right? With those five simple IC/DC rules, you know when, where, and why to put a comma (or semicolon) in a sentence.
Questions? Feel free to ask below. I am a grammar nerd, and I love grammar questions.
Tomorrow: But what about prepositional phrases?!