Academic Skills Advice
Punctuation: Commas
This workshop will:
− Refresh your understanding of commas
− Provide tips for the appropriate use of commas
− Provide practice and follow-on activities for you to be able continue to
improve your use of commas
Teaching points:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Commas and meaning
7 ways to use commas
Commas and clauses
Commas and ends of sentences
Using pairs of commas
Comma practice
1
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
1. Commas and meaning
Whilst the comma is the hardest working punctuation in the English language, it
does one job – it separates. To warm you up, can a comma go in this sentence?
Eats shoots and leaves.
What happens if you include a comma? Separating the words in a different way
gives new meaning to the sentence:
Eats, shoots and leaves. (The panda eats his food, shoots another and walks off)
Eats shoots and leaves. (The panda eats his food, which consists of the shoots
and the leaves of the bamboo plant)
Eats shoots, and leaves. (The panda eats his shoots and walks off)
2. 7 ways to use commas
Let’s start with what commas don’t do – they do not show you where to take a
breath! A comma is just one type of punctuation which play their part in the
grammatical construction of a sentence.
Below is a list of what commas do with examples, and we will then look at some in
more detail.
2
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
Rule
A To separate the clauses in a sentence
B To separate the introductory element of a
sentence from the main part (or subject) of it
C To separate an additional and final part of a
sentence from the opening and main part (or
subject) of it
D To separate out essential/useful information
from the main part (subject) of the sentence
Example
Society depends on its traditions, and
the authority of the written text is one
of those.
After the death of his wife, Hardy went
in to a deep depression.
The sea is calm tonight, yet it raged
fiercely all day.
Charles Handy, in his book The Empty
Raincoat, has argued that federalism is
a way of making sense of large
organizations.
E To separate out nonessential words from the There is, however, one mistake that
remainder of the sentence. The word
many students make.
‘however’ is used as a signal to suggest a
change of direction or to stress an exception
to the rule
F To separate commands or interjections from Stop, or I’ll shoot
the remainder of the sentence
G To separate out a) adjectives, or b) list of
a) It was a fine, dry and sunny day in
items in a sentence
my home town.
b) Raspberries, blackberries,
strawberries and gooseberries are
all traditional English fruits
3. Clauses and commas (A above)
Quick note about clauses:
 A clause is a group of words that may or may not have a complete meaning
on their own.
 Clauses are building blocks of sentences with each one adding to the overall
detail of a sentence.
 A sentence may contain more than one clause, but must have one main
clause.
The example above is broken down into two clauses as follows…
Society depends on its traditions, and the authority of the written text is one of those.
Clause
Clause
3
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
The above could be written as:
Society depends on its traditions.
Authority of the written text is a tradition of society.
To bring them together to produce both the appropriate academic style and as there
is an obvious link, we use the ‘and’ to link them but need the comma as they are
two different clauses.
Society depends on its traditions, and the authority of the written text is one of those.
If using a conjunction (a short word that links two clauses, e.g. and, but, so), the
comma always goes before the conjunction.
Let’s create longer sentences from the pairs below and insert
commas appropriately. We may also have to add a conjunction.
a)
David wants to attend Bradford University.
David has had trouble meeting the academic requirements to attend Bradford
University.
b)
Joey lost a fortune in the stock market.
Joey seems to be able to live quite comfortably.
c)
School is still open for another nine weeks.
You had better learn all you can over the next few weeks at school.
4. Commas and ends of sentences (C above)
Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasts, shifts or additional
information. The comma always goes before the addition.
The sea is calm tonight, yet it raged fiercely all day.
This is the main subject
This is the additional element
4
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
Together we will look at the following parts of a sentence
and draw lines to connect them. In the space below, write the full sentence out and
insert commas appropriately.
The chimpanzee seemed
reflective
Some say the world will
end in ice
That is my money
not yours
almost human
not fire
i.
ii.
iii.
5. Using pairs of commas (D and E above)
You may wish to include additional information, whether essential, useful or
nonessential, within a sentence rather than at the end. For this, you need to use a
pair of commas: one at the beginning of your additional information and one at the
end. This arrangement is helpful, as if you want to check your addition has not
affected the overall meaning of the sentence, the commas act as ‘handles’ for you to
pull it out and re-read the main information.
Using the example from the table above…
handle
handle
Charles Handy, in his book The Empty Raincoat, has argued that federalism is a way of
making sense of large organizations.
If we take out the additional words within the sentence, we get…
Charles Handy has argued that federalism is a way of making sense of large
organizations.
Hooray, this still makes sense, so we can put them back in (if you want to).
5
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
We will read the following sentences, decide where additional
information could be placed, and place the commas in the appropriate places.
Smith’s ambition is within his reach.
The man was caught today.
One famous sportsman won many trophies during his career.
6. Comma practice
Let’s insert any necessary commas together.
1. After a hard day at the office I like to relax with a large gin.
2. The recipe needed jam flour sugar fruit eggs ketchup and baking powder.
3. “Look at this” he whispered.
4. Paulina his wife of many years had decided to go and live in Greece.
5. She was intelligent not especially practical.
6. The thief was wearing impractical high heels so she could not run fast.
7. “I advise you” said the teacher "not to cross me again today."
8. Steven his head still spinning walked out of the office for the last time.
Questions taken from University of Bristol (2012)
6
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
Activity 1: Comma exercise
Read the paragraph below and add commas where appropriate. Consult with one
neighbour and check each other’s work, and then check with the other neighbour.
On July 20th 1969 having stepped onto the Moon’s surface Neil Armstrong uttered
the famous words ‘One small step for man one giant leap for mankind.’ Although it
had been hoped that the moon landing would lead to significant advances in space
travel some of which may soon become a reality the scientific progress has generally
been slow. However space research has done much to unite nations. The
establishment of the International Space Station the Space Shuttle and the Hubble
Telescope illustrates how much easier and more profitable it is for nations to work as
a team rather than in isolation.
Suggested websites for more information and activities:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/ and search for the commas you want
http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/languageartsworksheets/punctuationworksheet
s/ and search for commas you want.
You can also visit The Language Centre at University of Bradford who will be able to
provided additional support on a 1:2:1 or group basis for ALL students:
http://www.brad.ac.uk/study/languages/international-study-centre/
References
Clip art –question
Capital Community College. (2014) Conjunctions. Hartford: Capital Community
College. [online] Available at:
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm#but [Accessed
8.12.2014]
Drawingcoach.com (2010) Drawing a Friendly Cartoon Panda. [online] Available at:
http://www.drawingcoach.com/cartoon-panda.html [Accessed 2.7.2014]
7
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
Driscoll, D. and Brizee, A. (2014) Extended rules for using commas. West Lafayette:
Purdue University. [online] Available at:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/607/ [Accessed 8.12.2014]
Harrison, M., Jakeman, V. and Paterson, K. (2012) Improve your grammar.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
How Stuff Works. (2012) 10 Completely wrong ways to use a comma. [online]
Available at:
http://howstuffworks.tumblr.com/post/24471189949/10-completely-wrong-ways-touse-commas-commas-are [Accessed 2.7.2014]
Picture for Coloring. (2014) Panda on walk. Montreal: Picture for Colouring. [online]
Available at: http://picturesforcoloring.com/2012/04/printable-panda-coloring-pagesfor-cute-kids/ [Accessed 8.12.2014]
Schwartz, B (2013) Search Engine Roundtable. [online] Available at:
http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-advice-17354.html [Accessed 2.7.2014]
Straus, J. (2014) Commas. [online] Grammarbook.com Available at:
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp [Accessed 8.12.2014]
University of Bristol. (2012) Using the comma. Bristol: University of Bristol. [online]
Available at:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_45.htm
[Accessed 16.6.2014]
Answers
Commas and clauses
a)
David wants to attend Bradford University, but he has had trouble meeting the
academic requirements.
b)
Joey lost a fortune in the stock market, but he still seems able to live quite
comfortably.
c)
School is still open for another nine weeks, so you better try to learn all you can.
8
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Academic Skills Advice
Commas and ends of sentences
The chimpanzee seemed reflective, almost human.
That is my money, not yours.
Some say the world will end in ice, not fire.
Commas as handles
Smith’s ambition, to become a qualified dentist, is within his reach.
The man, who robbed the bank, was caught today.
One famous sportsman, Ryan Giggs, won many trophies during his career.
Group practice
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
After a hard day at the office, I like to relax with a large gin.
The recipe needed jam, flour, sugar, fruit, eggs, ketchup and baking powder.
“Look at this,” he whispered.
Paulina, his wife of many years, had decided to go and live in Greece.
She was intelligent, not especially practical.
The thief was wearing impractical high heels, so she could not run fast.
“I advise you,” said the teacher, "not to cross me again today."
Steven, his head still spinning, walked out of the office for the last time.
Activity 1: Comma exercise
On July 20th, 1969, having stepped onto the surface of the Moon’s surface, Neil
Armstrong uttered the famous words, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for
mankind.’ Although it had been hoped that the moon landing would lead to
significant advances in space travel, some of which may soon become a reality,
the scientific progress has generally been slow. However, space research has
done much to unite nations. The establishment of the International Space
Station, the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Telescope illustrates how much easier
and more profitable it is for nations to work as a team, rather than in isolation.
9
www.brad.ac.uk/academic-skills
Download

docx (KB126) - University of Bradford