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Writing Skills

Module II – Building effective sentences (3)

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Punctuation

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Why is punctuation important?

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Principle of semantic unity

Within the orthographic sentence, constituents which in


terms of meaning belong together should not be separated by a
single comma or other punctuation mark.

NEVER – SOMETIMES – ALWAYS

• NEVER: Basic units of meaning should be kept together (not


broken apart by punctuation)
• SOMETIMES: When punctuation is optional, sentence clarity
dictates use
• ALWAYS: Separate units of meaning should be set apart by
punctuation
Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik
Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Clausal unity

NEVER use a single comma to separate the subject from the


verb, or the verb from the object.

S-V-O
Many writers, have commented on the value of punctuation.
Millions of years ago monsters inhabited, the earth.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Clausal unity

What one should not forget in this context is the role of


punctuation within the grammar.
What this new edition still fails to do is reflect the confusion of
the period.
The second consideration is that the event occurred prior to the
girl’s sixteenth birthday.
Section 3 states clearly that editors must not publish
information about research which is regarded as ethically
unsound.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Relative clauses

Restrictive Non-Restrictive
• Defines the subject or • Does not define the subject
object of the sentence or object but gives
additional information
• Vital to the understanding • Meaning of the sentence is
of the sentence not changed by its removal
• NEVER separated by • ALWAYS separated by
commas commas

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Restrictive Relative Clauses
1. We ordered a book. It was very expensive.
We ordered a book that was very expensive
The book that we ordered was very expensive.
2. You are sitting on a bench. The paint on the bench is still
wet.
You are sitting on a bench that still has wet paint on it.
The paint on the bench on which you are sitting is still
wet.
3. The photographer could not develop the pictures. I had
taken them in Australia.
The photographer could not develop the pictures I had
taken in Australia.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Non-restrictive relative clauses
1. The city seems to be abandoned. It is usually crowded with
people.
The city, which is usually crowded with people, seems to
be abandoned.
The city, which seems to be abandoned, is usually
crowded with people.
2. Carol plays the piano brilliantly. She is only 9 years old.
Carol, who is only 9 years old, plays the piano brilliantly.
Carol, who plays the piano brilliantly, is only 9 years old.
3. Sydney is the largest Australian city. It is not the capital of
Australia.
Sydney, which is the largest Australian city, is not the
capital.
Sydney, which is not the capital, is the largest Australian
city.
Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik
Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Restrictive or non-restrictive?
1. You made an offer. We cannot accept it.
We cannot accept the offer you made.
2. A midwife is a woman. She assists other women in childbirth.
A woman who assists other women in childbirth is a midwife.
3. My mother found four kittens in the cellar. She had searched the
area all night.
My mother, who had searched the area all night, found four
kittens in the cellar.
4. The World Wide Web has become an essential part of our lives. It
was invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which has
become an essential part of our lives.
5. One man had blood on his hands. The police arrested the man.
The police arrested the man with blood on his hands.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Restrictive and non-restrictive elements

Appositives
Rivers such as the Thames have had to contend with a rise in
commercial water traffic.
Some rivers, such as the Thames, have had to contend with a rise
in commercial water traffic.
Parentheticals
Some men, especially middle-class men, came to value
domesticity more highly.
It is important, however, to realize that, as pointed out by Rosch
in her later work, prototype effects are, indeed, effects and do
not themselves constitute a theory of the way categories are
processed or learned.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Restrictive and non-restrictive elements

So [adjective] that / much [adjective] than


The chances of winning the election were so small that the Liberal
Party decided to pull out.
The chances of winning the election were so small. (?)
The financing of the Olympic village will involve much greater tax
increases than the city council imagines.
The fact that (fact, idea, belief, etc.)
The fact that African countries now do so well in major
international sports events does not mean that the IOC is now
ready to award the Olympic Games to an African city.
The fact does not mean that the IOC is now ready to award the
Olympic Games to an African city. (?)

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Optional Commas

• Commas in a sequence
• Adverbial clauses
• Coordinated clauses
• Initial constituents

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Commas and sequence

Editing involves reading, understanding and adjusting someone


else’s text.
The Oxford Comma
Editing involves reading, understanding, and adjusting someone
else’s text.

• Gives final element more attention


• “Last but not least” effect

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Adverbial clauses

If adverbial clause is focus of the message of previous clause


(an elaboration), DO NOT separate by a comma.

However, it soon became clear that the decision was taken


because the gas industry had bribed senior ministers.
why was the decision taken?
However, it soon became clear that the decision was taken,
because the gas industry had bribed senior ministers.
why did it become clear?
EXCEPTIONS:
while (as a contrast), whereas, although, for-clauses

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Separating coordinated clauses with commas

• How long is the compound sentence?


• How independent are the two clauses?
• How are the two verbs related?
• Should the reader process the first clause before proceeding
to the second clause?
• Is the meaning clearer and easier to process with the comma
or without?

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Separating initial elements with commas

The shorter the element, the less the need for a comma; the
longer the element, the greater the need for a comma.

In Paris the decision to block off the Channel Tunnel came as a


great shock.
Despite the fact that English teachers are concerned with both
academic and non-academic education, it is the Scots who
value a professional training for teachers most highly.

After dark men and women strolled around the square.


In order to develop it is necessary that architects are given a
certain amount of freedom in their work.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Separating initial elements with commas

Transition words / phrases

Typically, transition words and phrases are separated from the


sentence by a comma.

Nevertheless, no decision was taken to employ military force.


On the other hand, Jones argues that the question is a valid one.

Exceptions: therefore, unfortunately, clearly, obviously

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
The colon :

Establishes a relationship between information to the left and


to the right: what follows the colon gives specifics to what goes
before it.
• Explains the preceding clause
• Gives support to the clause’s argument
• Delineates the examples mentioned in the clause
• Commonly used to introduce lists and quotations

A colon is an abrupt signal: it creates suspense and expectancy


and implies a particular relationship between two independent
units of information.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
The colon :

• Use sparingly!! ONE per sentence, limit in paragraphs


• Element to the left of the colon MUST be independent
clause
• Don’t split verb from object
This means: no one shall insult me with impunity.
• Don’t use after framing expression
And secondly: more students mean more money.
• Don’t use after introductory expression
As he tells us early in the novel: “I think that to understand….”

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
The semicolon ;

Three main functions:


• Combines two independent but related clauses into one
sentence
• Separates long and/or complex members of a list (with
commas in list elements, use semicolons between elements)
• Instead of a comma in a compound sentence to give more
weight to the second part

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Parentheses ( ) Brackets [ ] Braces { }

Parenthetical Expressions – Parentheses ( )


• Information you want to include, but also want to keep out
of the main line of the argument
This means that the colon should not split the verb (which would
be against the Principle of Semantic Unity).
• Inline references
The metaphor simply does not work out—or, to use the
metaphoric description use earlier, it is maimed. (Nash 1987: 42)

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Parentheses ( ) Brackets [ ] Braces { }

The square bracket [ ]


• Parentheses within parentheses
This means that the colon should not split the verb (which would
be against the PSU [Principle of Semantic Unity]).
• Changes in quoted text (explanations, edits, elisions)
Landry said later, “This enterprising paleontologist [Bob Jones]
discovered a new species of plant eater.”
• [sic] – “thus it was written” – to indicate error in original text
An Iraqi battalion has consumed [sic] control of the former
American military base.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
The dash – —

En Dash Em Dash
• Periods of time when you • Use sparingly in formal
might otherwise use to. writing. May replace commas,
The years 2001–2003 semicolons, colons, and
January–June parentheses to indicate added
emphasis, an interruption, or
• In place of a hyphen when an abrupt change of thought.
combining open compounds.
My agreement with Fiona is
North Carolina–Virginia clear—she teaches me French
border and I teach her German.
a high school–college Please call my agent—Jessica
conference Cohen—about hiring me.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
The apostrophe ’

• To show possession with nouns (NOT PRONOUNS!)


In Miller’s latest work he mentions his mother’s reliance on her
friends.
Do you know James’ father? His sisters’ husbands all work for the
local hospital.
• To replace letters in contractions and written dialect
He didn’t notice their accent until one said, “Y’all come back now,
y’hear?”

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Quotation Marks

• Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.


The sign changed from "Walk," to "Don't Walk," to "Walk" again
within 30 seconds.
She said, "Hurry up."
She said, "He said, 'Hurry up.'"
• Question marks go inside quotation marks when the mark is
part of the quote, and outside when the mark is not part of
the quote
She asked, "Will you still be my friend?"
Do you agree with the saying, "All's fair in love and war"?

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Quotation Marks

• Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.


He said, "Danea said, 'Do not treat me that way.'"
• For quotation marks in combination with multiple ending
mark options (question mark, period, exclamation point) use
only a single mark – the strongest
Did she say, "May I go?"

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Comma splices

Using a comma when a colon, a semicolon or a period is more


appropriate
The public are often not aware of this, however, they are
unconsciously influenced by the newspaper’s opinion.
The public are not often aware of this, however; they are
unconsciously influenced by the newspaper’s opinion.
Sometimes it is necessary to rewrite to avoid the comma splice
Firstly, tourism in the east of Germany is lying still, therefore the
big new hotels do not get the customers they need.
Firstly, tourism in eastern Germany is at a standstill, as a result of
which the big new hotels do not get the customers they need.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Punctuation Practice—Answers
1. The men in question (Harold Keene, Jim Peterson, and Gerald Greene)
deserve awards.
2. Several countries participated in the airlift: Italy, Belgium, France, and
Luxembourg.
3. “Only one course was open to us: surrender,” said the ex-major, “and we
did.”
4. Judge Carswell—later to be nominated for the Supreme Court—had ruled
against civil rights.
5. In last week’s New Yorker, one of my favorite magazines, I enjoyed reading
Leland’s article “How Not to Go Camping.”
6. “Yes,” Jim said, “I’ll be home by ten.”
7. There was only one thing to do—study till dawn.
8. Montaigne wrote the following: “A wise man never loses anything, if he has
himself.”
9. The following are the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.
10. Arriving on the 8:10 plane were Liz Brooks, my old roommate; her husband;
and Tim, their son.
Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik
Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Punctuation Practice—Answers
11. When the teacher commented that her spelling was poor, Lynn replied, “All the
members of my family are poor spellers. Why not me?”
12. He used the phrase “you know” so often that I finally said, “No, I don’t know.”
13. The automobile dealer handled three makes of cars: Volkswagens, Porsches,
and Mercedes Benz.
14. Though Phil said he would arrive on the 9:19 flight, he came instead on the
10:36 flight.
15. “Whoever thought,” said Helen, “that Jack would be elected class president?”
16. In baseball, a “show boat” is a man who shows off.
17. The minister quoted Isaiah 5:21 in last Sunday’s sermon.
18. There was a very interesting article entitled “The New Rage for Folk Singing” in
last Sunday’s New York Times newspaper.
19. “Whoever is elected secretary of the club—Ashley, or Chandra, or Aisha—must
be prepared to do a great deal of work,” said Jumita, the previous secretary.
20. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) caused a great controversy when it
appeared.

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de
Homework

Begin Module III


“Advanced Punctuation Exercise” (answers posted on Moodle)

Extra Exercises on Moodle


• Advanced Grammar in Use, units 70-75
• Advanced Language Practice, unit 28
• Purdue OWL Writing Exercises – Punctuation

Michelle Smith, Lektorin | Seminar für Anglistik & Amerikanistik


Institut für Sprache, Literatur, und Medien
HG 163 | michelle.smith@uni-flensburg.de