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Rated: E | Assignment | Educational | #1841764
Comma Sense Class - Exercise & Writing Assignment #2

Lesson #2 - EXERCISE


1. After they took their baths, Ida sprinkled fairy dust on the elves, flying above the tub.

ANSWER:

Rule #2 applies because "After they took their baths," is an introductory adverbial clause.

Exception to Rule #6b: Ida is the one who is flying above the tub, not the elves, therefore a comma must be used before the ending participial phrase, which is
"flying above the tub," because it modifies the word "Ida."

*****

2. On Sanarra's vacation she went to see Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and the Comma Museum.

ANSWER:

Exception to Rule #6a: If the introductory phrase is a prepositional phrase, which in this case it is, beginning with the word "on", and is quite short (five or less words), which it is, then no comma is necessary.

Rule #5 applies: Use a comma to separate the elements in a series with a single conjunction, including the last two, which in this case are the words
Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and the Comma Museum.

*****

3. MoJo, who lives in Alabama, finished her assignments before she ate her chocolate-covered jelly beans.

ANSWER:

Rule #4a applies: Use commas before and after non-essential words, phrases, and clauses that are elements embedded in the sentence which interrupt the flow the sentence but are not needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence, which in this case are the words ,"who lives in Alabama." We don't need to know this information in order to understand the sentence.

The conjunction
"before" is a subordinating conjunction. Exception to Rule #1: Usually no comma goes before a subordinating conjunction.

The adjectives that describe "beans" are: her, chocolate-covered, and jelly. These are non-coordinate adjectives, so Rule #3b applies: Do not use commas between non-coordinate adjectives.

*****

4. The playful service dog, Buddy ate Barbie's i-pod that she just bought.

ANSWER:

Rule #3b applies: Do not use commas between non-coordinate adjectives, which in this case are the words "playful" and "service."

Rule #4a applies: Use commas before and after non-essential words, phrases and clauses that are elements embedded in the sentence which interrupt the flow of the sentence but are not needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence, which in this case is the word "Buddy" because Barbie only has one service dog so his name is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

The clause modifying i-pod is called a
relative clause. Rule #4c applies: Do not use commas to set off essential that-clauses which are dependent clauses beginning with the relative pronoun "THAT".

*****

5. I was born in the small log cabin which I helped my father build.

ANSWER:

Rule #3b applies: Do not use commas between non-coordinate adjectives, which in this case are the words "small" and "log."

Rule #4b applies: Do not use commas to set off essential elements that are vital to the meaning of the sentence, and in this sentence, the phrase "which I helped my father build" is essential information.

*****

6. Please put the plate smeared with Tina's birthday cake into the dishwasher before it draws flies and stinks up the kitchen and attracts the gophers.

ANSWER:

Rule #4b applies: Do not use commas to set off essential elements that are vital to the meaning of the sentence and in this sentence, it is essential that we know the plate we are talking about is the one "smeared with Tina's birthday cake."

Rule #1: A comma does not usually go before a subordinating conjunction, which the word "before" is.

Exception to Rule #5: No commas are used to separate elements in a series when a conjunction separates each element.

*****

7. Tripping over his old, blue rocking chair, Thundersbeard spilled his drink. Nevertheless, he rose with dignity.

ANSWER:

Rule #6a applies: Use a comma after an introductory phase, which in this case is "Tripping over his old, blue rocking chair."

The adjectives describing the chair are: old, blue, rocking. However, they are not all equal in importance to the chair.

Rule #3a applies:Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun. The adjectives "old" and "blue" are coordinate and need a comma between them.

Rule #3b applies:Do not use commas between non-coordinate adjectives. The adjective
"rocking" is noncoordinate and needs no comma.

The word
"Nevertheless" creates continuity from one sentence to the next.

Rule #7 applies: Use a comma after introductory transitional words that create continuity from one sentence to the next, which the word
"Nevertheless" does.

*****
8. Winnie's cheesecake, resting on her windowsill, has gopher paw prints all over it!

ANSWER:

Rule #4a applies: Use commas before and after non-essential words, phrases, and clauses that are elements embedded in the sentence which interrupt the flow of the sentence but are not needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence, which in this case is the participial phrase "resting on her windowsill" in the middle of the sentence.

The adjectives describing the prints are "gopher" and "paw" . These adjectives are non-coordinate adjectives, so Rule #3b applies.

*****
9. Dagnabit! Cindy dropped her Comma Rule book on my foot and broke my toe. So, they rushed me to the vet.

ANSWER:

Rule #8 applies: Use commas to set off interjections because the word "Dagnabit" is an exclamation.

Rule #1 applies: No comma is used before a coordinating conjunction in a non-compound sentence, which in this case is the word "and," and the first sentence is a non-compound sentence.

Exception to Rule #7; If you start a transitional sentence with a coordinating conjunction, which in this case is the word
"So" you do not use a comma after the conjunction unless a parenthetical phrase follows it.

*****
10. Winnie‘s older brother, who taught High School English for thirty years, refuses to help her grade these comma assignments.

ANSWER:

Rule #4a applies: Use commas before and after non-essential words, phrases, and clauses that are elements embedded in the sentence which interrupt the flow of the sentence but are not needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence, which in this case are the words "who taught High School English for thirty years." If this phrase is eliminated from the sentence, the meaning of the sentence remains the same, which means that this phrase is non-essential.


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Lesson #2 - WRITING ASSIGNMENT



One day, [6a] I realized I needed to renew my driver's license. As I pulled into the crowded parking lot of the DMV, [2] I was glad when a car pulled out so [1xa]I could grab its parking space. I knew I would have a long wait in line. As I suspected, [2] I saw a long line of people after I entered the building. I noticed that each person in line had the same bored look on his face as he watched the person in front of him [6b] taking the the required eye examination. The ticket that [4c] I pulled was 479. The number on the board showed the next number was 456. I was thankful I had worn my most comfortable pair of old, [3a] worn tennis [3b] shoes.

I felt so uneasy waiting in this line of strangers in which no one even knew my name. I felt as though I was just a number to everyone there. I could have been nonexistent [1xc] and everyone could have cared less about me. As a matter of fact, [6a] those in line behind would have been much happier if I didn't exist [1xb]because then, [?] each of them would reach the front of the line all the sooner. It is so easy in this huge world to feel nonexistent at times, [4a] especially when you are among strangers, [4a] and that's exactly how I felt at that moment. I was relieved when my number was called. Even then, [6a] I was still treated as only just a number. I really can't blame the staff at the DMV; they were only trying to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. But it still left me feeling as though I was only a number -- one number in a million numbers.

On the drive home, [6a] I contemplated how often a person feels like this: at the DMV, [5] at the doctor's office, [5] at the post office, [5] or at any number of places on any given day. Is it any better in a small town? But, [7x] would I ever have the chance to find out?

Then I pulled into my driveway. As I opened my car door, [2] my husband opened our kitchen door [1xc] and our toy[3b] poodle, [4a] Lucy.[4a] came running out to meet me. Her tail was wagging enthuastically as she tried to jump into my lap [1xb] before I could even get a foot onto the ground. She began to lick my face, [6xb] letting me know just how glad she was to see me. I'm not just a number to her, [1] nor am I a nonexistent nobody. I am her mistress. I am the one who feeds her, [5] walks her, [5] plays with her, [5] brushes her, [5] and gives her love. To her I am immense. To her I am the world. To her I am everything. Just then, [6a] I knew where I would rather be than anywhere else in the world. Indeed, [8] there's no place like home!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Lesson #2 - DISCUSSION TOPIC



The first two lessons demonstrate the power and the responsibility of the author to incorporate comma placement or omission of commas to interpret his or her meaning and intentions to the reader. For instance, in this week's lesson, we learned that the presence or absence of a comma before an Ending Participial Phrase tells us who or what is doing the action related to the phrase [Rule #6b]. In last week's lesson, we learned that the essentiality of a word or a phrase is determined by the author's use or non-use of commas around that element [Rules #4a & 4b]. Write four sentences demonstrating your understanding of this concept of the power of the author. Tell us why you did or did not use a comma. Let's discuss each others' sentences.


1. The hikers spotted a doe with her fawn, walking through the forest.

EXPLANATION:

I placed a comma where I did because the phrase "walking through the forest" modifies the "hikers." and not the "doe." If the comma was not placed it would lead the reader to think that it was the doe walking through the forest. This is an example of the Exception to Rule #6: If the ending participial phrase modifies an earlier word in the sentence, a comma must be used.

2. My sister Janice is coming for a visit next week.

EXPLANATION:

I didn't place any commas because the word "Janice" is an essential element which is vital to the meaning of the sentence, and is something that only the author would know. This would satisfy Rule #4b: Do not use commas to set off essential elements that are vital to the meaning of the sentence. I felt it was vital for the reader to know that Janice is my sister, and I do have five sisters.

3. The mother watched her daughter playing the part of Juliet in the school play,

EXPLANATION:

I didn't place any commas because of Rule 6b: Don't use a comma before an ending participial phrase that modifies the word it immediately follows. If a comma were placed after the word "daughter," then the reader would think it was the mother playing the part of Juliet in the school play. It is up to the author to let the reader know that it is her her daughter who is playing the part of Juliet.

4. Diane, a friend of mine, would like to join the Comma Sense Class.

EXPLANATION:

In this case I used commas because of Rule #4a:Use commas before and after non-essential words, phrases, and clauses that are elements embedded in the sentence which interrupt the flow of the sentence but are not needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence. In this case, the phrase "a friend of mine" is nonessential, and the reader does not need to know this information, but I, as the author, made the decision to put forth this information.


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