Common sentence construction problems Date published April 28, by Shane Bryson. April 3, Sentence construction describes how the different parts of a sentence are put together, from its punctuation to the ordering of its words. This article examines some of the most common types of sentence construction problems, so you can avoid them in your own writing. These problems include both grammatical errors and clarity issues.
Not recommended for 28 or 56k phone-line connections. If your computer is equipped with PowerPoint, click on the PowerPoint icon to the right for a brief PowerPoint presentation on comma usage.
Use a comma to separate the elements in a series three or more thingsincluding the last two. Using a comma between all the items in a series, including the last two, avoids this problem.
In newspaper writing, incidentally, you will seldom find a serial comma, but that is not necessarily a sign that it should be omitted in academic prose.
If there is ever any doubt, however, use the comma, as it is always correct in this situation. One of the most frequent errors in comma usage is the placement of a comma after a coordinating conjunction.
We cannot say that the comma will always come before the conjunction and never after, but it would be a rare event, indeed, that we need to follow a coordinating conjunction with a comma. When speaking, we do sometimes pause after the little conjunction, but there is seldom a good reason to put a comma there.
For additional information on coordinating conjunctions, click HERE. See the note BELOW regarding the use of a comma between two independent clauses when the second independent clause begins with a parenthetical element or adverbial clause.
Use a comma to set off introductory elements, as in "Running toward third base, he suddenly realized how stupid he looked. If there is ever any doubt, use the comma, as it is always correct. If you would like some additional guidelines on using a comma after introductory elements, click HERE.
Use a comma to set off parenthetical elements, as in "The Founders Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River, is falling down.
The parenthetical element is sometimes called "added information. Appositives are almost always treated as parenthetical elements. Eleanor, his wife of thirty years, suddenly decided to open her own business.
Sometimes the appositive and the word it identifies are so closely related that the comma can be omitted, as in "His wife Eleanor suddenly decided to open her own business.
But "his wife" and "Eleanor" are so close that we can regard the entire phrase as one unit and leave out the commas. With the phrase turned around, however, we have a more definite parenthetical element and the commas are necessary: As pointed out above Rule 3an adverbial clause that begins a sentence is set off with a comma: Although Queasybreath had spent several years in Antarctica, he still bundled up warmly in the brisk autumns of Ohio.
Because Tashonda had learned to study by herself, she was able to pass the entrance exam. When an adverbial clause comes later on in the sentence, however, the writer must determine if the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence or not.
A "because clause" can be particularly troublesome in this regard. In most sentences, a "because clause" is essential to the meaning of the sentence, and it will not be set off with a comma: The Okies had to leave their farms in the midwest because the drought conditions had ruined their farms.
Sometimes, though, the "because clause" must be set off with a comma to avoid misreading: I knew that President Nixon would resign that morning, because my sister-in-law worked in the White House and she called me with the news.
Nixon did not resign because my sister-in-law worked in the White House, so we set off that clause to make the meaning clearly parenthetical. The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but of course, they always do well in the spring.
We visited Hartford, Connecticut, last summer.
Paris, France, is sometimes called "The City of Lights. Heublein, a Hartford, Connecticut-based company, is moving to another state.
An absolute phrase is always treated as a parenthetical element, as is an interjection. Be sure, however, that the name is that of someone actually being spoken to. Their years of training now forgotten, the soldiers broke ranks.
Yes, it is always a matter, of course, of preparation and attitude. You could think of this as "That tall, distinguished, good looking fellow" rule as opposed to "the little old lady".
If you can put an and or a but between the adjectives, a comma will probably belong there.This is a punctuation lesson on using commas. Commas can be used after the setting the scene for a sentence, after transitional phrases, after interjections, before conjunctions, for parentheses, after a long subject, in lists, and with the vocative case.
This grammar lesson offers an explanation on the correct use of commas and gives examples of commas used in sentences. Included is an entire year (36 weeks) of Daily Fix-It Sentences with two sentences per day and 10 sentences total per week.
An answer key is included for each week.
I also included a (black & white and colored) cover page for the students. I have found this daily practice to be extremely beneficial, and have seen HUGE improvements in my students' writing!
If I use commas to separate these items, my sentence looks like this: I bought shiny, ripe apples, small, sweet, juicy grapes, and firm pears. That middle part is a bit confusing—it doesn’t give the reader many visual cues about how many items are in the list, or about which words should be grouped together.
Using Commas. Use commas to set off non-restrictive modifiers. Do not use commas to set off restrictive modifiers.. Non-restrictive vs. restrictive modifiers.
A non-restrictive modifier adds information that is not essential to our understanding of the sentence; if we remove it from the sentence, the basic meaning of the sentence does not change..
A restrictive modifier identifies, or limits. Use this lesson and infographic for those dreaded commas. The sentences following will reinforce the material for your students.
The infographic will show you what coordinating conjunctions are and where the comma goes in a sentence of this sort. It will also explain the exceptions. Directions: In numbers , write the coordinating.
Avoiding sentence errors such as comma splicing, subject-verb disagreement, or lack of parallelism makes writing much clearer and more interesting. Communicating ideas to a reader without confusion due to sentence errors is always the goal.