Workshop Transcript

Punctuation Problems


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 *** ^Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Punctuation & Writing Tools workshop in progress

^Verla: Workshop time, folks! Get into your seats, please and settle in...

ClaraRose scrambles for her seat...

^GailM: Punctuation--Workshop November 10

^GailM: You all saw this one posted on the CW list:

^GailM: An English professor wrote the sentence "Woman without her man is

^GailM: nothing" on the blackboard and directed her students to correct it.

^GailM: An English professor wrote the sentence "Woman without her man is

^GailM: nothing" on the blackboard and directed her students to correct it.

^GailM: The guys wrote "Woman, without her man, is nothing."

^GailM: The girls wrote "Woman! Without her, man is nothing!"

^Verla: I love that saying, gail. It really shows how punctuation can change things

^GailM: There are many kinds of punctuation: comma, semicolon, colon, apostrophe, question mark, period, exclamation point, dash, hyphen.

^GailM: I am going to assume that children's writers know how to use the period, question mark, and exclamation point.

^GailM: One comment on the exclamation point--DO NOT OVER EXCLAIM! Make your own rule. Only one exclamation per every ten sentences, maximum!

^GailM: The comma is probably the biggest problem as it is used the most often.

Dani257: That's my biggie

^GailM: ***Use a comma BEFORE a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, for so, nor) when it joins two independent clauses (sentences in their own right or single sentences).

^GailM: If the clauses are short, the comma can be omitted.

^GailM: If the clauses are long and contain other commas, use a semicolon instead.

^Verla: you please show us examples of that, so we can UNDERSTAND that statement about the commas, gail?

^GailM: Examples: Suddenly dark clouds appeared on the horizon, and the sea became rough and wild.

^Verla: two thoughts? Separated by commas?

pearlsue: Gail--regarding commas, I wonder if you've ever run into this?

pearlsue: (Sorry, are you taking questions now?)

^GailM: Molly bumped her head but she didn't cry.

katrapp_: i thought that a coma didn't come before an and

katrapp_: i thought an and was a coma

^GailM: Yes, before the and.

^Verla: Hmmm. I always thought no comma before MOST ands, too, gail

^GailM: No. If two complete thoughts are joined, unless they are short, a comma comes befor the and.


katrapp_: ahhhhh two COMPLETE thoughts

^GailM: When he arrived at the picnic, he was invited to join two different groups playing baseball; and it was only after much discussion with his mother, his brother, and several of his friends that he joined the group near the soccer goal.

^GailM: Note: Children's writing and much adult writing should not have sentences this long. I ALSO need to heed this advice.

^Verla: I never make sentences that long

pearlsue waves her hand wildly

^Verla: ask your question, pearl

pearlsue: I always thought I "knew" my commas--I'm a grammar teacher, for heaven's sake! But my editor changed LOTS of my commas--usually REMOVING them. I asked her about it...

pearlsue: ...which led to a long talk about the organic nature of language, and how comma use is CHANGING from the way many of us would have learned it as children...or see it in children's books written more than a decade or so ago...

pearlsue: Have you found this to be true, Gail?

^GailM: Hey, some folks have not read the rules in a long time. What can I say.

^GailM: I just do not listen to folks who do not know the rules. We English teachers are like that.

^Verla: I'd like to mention something here, too...

^Verla: Each publishing house has their own way of punctuating books. And their copy editing department sometimes doesn't follow the "hard and fast rules." But if YOU use these rules, you will look professional. And they will tell you what they want changed for their house when they publish your books.

pearlsue: So THAT'S why they took out all my commas, Verla!

Dani257: Do you use a comma when there's a pause in speaking? I use one whenever I think a person would pause if they were reading out loud.

^GailM: See the above sentence, way above.

_Lyra: Often in my revisions, I split up long sentences into shorter ones.

^GailM: Good idea Lyra.

_Lyra: I do LOTS of revising...actually like it (g)

NOTE: (g) = Grin

zbell: May we ask questions in this workshop?

^Verla: Yes, zbell. So, please, folks. Jump in with your questions anytime...

^Verla: If you go too fast, gail will ask you to stop for a minute until she catches up

^GailM: ***Use a comma to separate an introductory phrase or dependent clause (one that could not be a sentence by itself) from a independent clause.

katrapp_: whoa!! independent and dependent clauses?

^GailM: Some kinds of introductory clauses (has a subject and verb but cannot work as a sentence) begin with subordinating conjunctions--if, as, since, because, although, while, when...

^GailM: Examples:

^GailM: When she finished the conference, she decided to be a freelance writer.

^GailM: Although Spring is months away, Henry is planning his garden.

^GailM: Since she didn't take a lunch, she ate a chocolate bar instead.

katrapp_: subordinating conjunctions??

^GailM: Right Kat.

Dani257: So there are strict times you use a comma, not just when you need to stop and take a breath

^GailM: Correct.

Dani257: (I hate commas)

^Verla: Commas are WONDERFUL, dani. WHEN you get them to work correctly.

_Lyra: commas are useful

^GailM: Commas are your writing friend!

katrapp_: so how do we know what is what?

Dani257: Commas are like dentists. Good, healthy, useful, but not a lot of fun for me

DonaV is still sulking over the exclamation point rule

_Lyra: (Dona don't worry--I always break the ! rule)

katrapp_: i feel like i should be back in grade school....

katrapp_: i am lost

katrapp_: i like comas but have no idea about clauses and dependents

^GailM: Dependent means they lean on the main sentence. That is how I see them.

Dani257: I'm lost with you

Dani257: Maybe we fell asleep in English class

katrapp_: please speak laymen

^GailM: A clause is independent or dependent. Stands alone or cannot.

^GailM: The introductory phrase might be a participle or infinitive and used as an adjective or adverb.

^GailM: To win the game, you must follow the rules. [Infinitive (to+verb)]

^GailM: To follow the rules, you must read the book first. [Infinitive (to+verb)]

^GailM: You have to read carefully. That will help. Go over the text again and again. It will make sense.

katrapp_: ok.... got it

^GailM: Acting on his teacher's advice, Marc submitted his manuscript. [Participle (ing word)]

zbell writes instinctively - and instinctively she knows she's wrong sometimes

^GailM: Following the directions, he ended up near Mall. [Participle]

^GailM: *But if the infinitive or an "ing" look-alike word called a gerund is used as the subject of the sentence, NO COMMA. (Gerunds are 'ing-words used as nouns)

_Lyra: I write with lots of participles...just didn't know what they were called

^Verla: I don't know the names of the "parts of speech"

^Verla: I know what a verb and noun are. That's about it. LOL

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

Dani257: Okay, now that you're on participles, when is one dangling? (Is that a punctuation question?)

^Verla: It's a close enough question to be a good one, dani!

^GailM: Dangling means that it does not modify or describe the subject of the sentence.

DonaV: Please give an example of the gerund sentence.

^GailM: Let's see if I can think of one.


Harazin: Gail, I've always called the participles verb gerunds. That is incorrect?

^GailM: Dangling the line in the water, the fish swam away. (The fish was not dangling the line in the water.)

pearlsue: Dripping on the carpet, she ate her ice cream. "Dripping" modifies "ice cream" instead of "she"--incorrect.

^GailM: CORRECT!!!!!!!

pearlsue beams proudly

^GailM: A gold star for pearl.

^Verla: what did pearlsue say that was correct?

^Verla: I didn't see anything....

pearlsue: My ice cream example, Verla

^Verla: Oh..giggle. I missed your name and thought it was all from gail.

Dani257: Maybe she was the wicked witch of the west. THEN she'd be dripping ;-)

NOTE: ;-) = A sideways Happy Face

Dani257: But I get it

_Lyra: Still the sentence made sense to me!

zbell: Isn't that writing a sentence backwards?

^GailM: To spend a month a year at the beach house was her goal. ("To spend" is the subject of the sentence, used as a noun.)

^GailM: *Have I lost all of you yet? These are the rules, and using words such a GERUND confuses some folks.

_Lyra: I don't know about that G word...

katrapp_: i am going to run out and get a book on english.... sigh

katrapp_: i feel down right dumb

_Lyra: just ask Gail, Katrapp!

^Verla: Best book I ever got was the Strunk & White Elements of Style book

^GailM: ***One other kind of phrase is the prepositional phrase. I used to teach the preposition as anything the magical rabbit could do with the magical box. It can go, IN the box, OVER, THROUGH, UNDER, BEHIND, NEAR, TO, FROM, and harder ones like: by, after, for, with, etc.

katrapp_: i do

katrapp_: i know those :)

^GailM: Hey, I may be an English teacher, but I am a nice one.

katrapp_: i know the box good

zbell: A lot of time I find myself setting off a prepositional phrase with parenthesis - how do you define when to use parentheses?

^GailM: I almost NEVER use parentheses.

^GailM: If you have one prepositional phrase, NO comma. If you have two but they are short with short words, probably not. If you have three or two long ones, USE A COMMA.

^GailM: Examples:

^GailM: They are not needed if you know the comma up close and personal.

^GailM: Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go.

^GailM: Near the tree a leaf glowed in the setting sun.

^GailM: In boxes under the bed she stored her winter clothes.

katrapp_: no comas after boxes and bed?

_Lyra: I would have wanted to put a comma after bed

zbell: me too Lyra

_Lyra: Actually, I would have reversed that sentence (g)

^Verla: So would I, lyra

^GailM: The first one, a long two prep. phrase.

^GailM: The second is a single prep.

^GailM: The third is two prep. phrases but they are short. No comma.

katrapp_: cool

_Lyra: okay teacher saluting to Gail

^GailM: ***Commas separate words, phrases or clauses in a series. That one is easy. About 25 years ago it was proper to put the comma before the joining word, usually 'and'.

^Verla: "Yikes," he yelled, (but he didn't really mean to.)

^Verla: That does NOT look right.

^GailM: Verla, that is one way to do it, but I would say the parenthesis are not necessary.

zbell: are names usually set off by commas?

^GailM: Yes, Zbell, but that is coming up.

zbell: ah, okay

zbell: I tend to over-use parenthesis - how do you know when to use them?

katrapp_: but shouldn't the coma be removed? "Yikes!" he yelled...

Verla: Kat, NICE example of a way to fix that sentence of mine. I like that. Thanks!

zbell: Gail, will you go into capitalization?

^GailM: No, Zbell. No time. Shhhh. Verla will hear you and want me to do this again.

zbell wails....but I want to know when to capitalize Mother and Father and when not too!

^GailM: OK, Zbell. If you say my mother, or her father, preceeded by a possessive pronoun, do not capitilize.

^GailM: If the Father or Mother takes the place of their NAME, capital.

^Verla: I know the answer to THAT question, zbell. You capitalize them when you are using them AS a proper name. As in: Mother and Father went to town. But NOT when you are talking ABOUT them, as in : My mother and father went to town.

zbell: Zbell asked her mother and father if it would be okay to go with Todd to the movies.

Verla: Yeah! You got it, Zbell!

zbell: If you are accepted, will the house re-do some of the grammar anyway?

_Lyra: yes, zbell

zbell: okay, thanks!

MelLane: What about ending a sentence with a preposition? Is it a no-no, or not? (I sweat those, folks!)

Dani257: Yes, CAN you end a sentence in a preposition? Some say it's a no-no, and some say there's no actual rule against it

^GailM: Ending the sentence with a prep used to be a total NO - NO. today it is not such a bad thing.

katrapp_: mom still yells at em when i do it

^GailM: About 15 years ago, that comma was eliminated. We are about mid-swing in the pendulum. Either is correct.

_Lyra: ah--choices! Yeah!! (I like !!!!!)

woolfff: I'm sorry. Either what way is correct? I've lost the gist of the examples!

MelLane: What comma was eliminated, Gail?

^GailM: Sorry.

woolfff: Either is correct is which example?

^GailM: My cat has decided to help me.

^GailM: Sorry. Cat is now gone. I will repeat.

^GailM: ***Commas separate words, phrases or clauses in a series. That one is easy. About 25 years ago it was proper to put the comma before the joining word, usually 'and'.

^GailM: About 15 years ago, that comma was eliminated. We are about mid-swing in the pendulum. Either is correct.

^GailM: When you come over, please bring a pencil, a pen, and a notebook.

^GailM: (This is the style I prefer.)

^GailM: Looking out my window, I spotted red, gold and rust colored leaves. (This is the other acceptable style.)

MelLane: OH! Thank you Gail! I'm sorry to ask you to repeat it.

^Verla: Hmmm. I would have left that last comma OUT, gail.

_Lyra: And I was taught to put it IN!

MelLane: I was taught NO Comma before the and, and in homeschool last year, they said PUT the comma in before the and. Geez. MAKE up their minds!

^GailM: Then you would not be following the RULES!

^Verla: In the pen and notebook example. Grin. Different generation of schooling, lyra.

_Lyra: not THAT many years different, though (g)

^Verla: different enough, it seems.

^GailM: Sorry, Verla. The cat came back. No. The comma before the last thing in a series is optional.

^GailM: They did the comma 25-50 years ago, and then they changed, and now they make it optional.

^Verla: (two thoughts, there, separated by a comma.)

^Verla: Now. in THAT sentence, gail...where should commas be around that word, there?

^GailM: Wizard is a bad cat. Can't see through his tail.

*katrapp_ : snicker

katrapp_: blow in his face

^Verla: Wizard! Move over!

zbell: lol Gail, I wouldn't want to!

^Verla: cute, zbell

zbell: Wizard, meet Molly, who is sitting quietly on my lap.

^Verla: zbell..that Wizard sentence looked right to me

_Lyra: Wizard and Molly meet Velvet who is sitting in MY lap.

zbell: On Lyra's sentence, I would tend to set off meet Velvet with commas, would that be right?

katrapp_: is wizard sitting quietly on your lap?

katrapp_: who is sitting quietly on your lap?

^GailM: Wizard and Molly meet Velvet who is sitting in MY lap.

^GailM: Wizard and Molly, meet Velvet, who is sitting in MY lap.

MelLane: I vote for the second sentence. Which is correct? Both?

katrapp_: i vote for the first. molly is sitting in the lap??

Dani257: I vote the second

DonaV: The first one would be hard to understand.

_Lyra: I kind of thought I should have added commas...

katrapp_: oh... just a comma after molly?

zbell is happy to know she agrees with an English teacher!

^GailM: On Lyra's sentence, I can't get it to copy right. Comma after Molly, and after Velvet. The phrase starting with who is a nonrestrictive clause.

_Lyra: That's the sort of thing I fix in rewrites!

katrapp_: who is in the lap??

zbell: Lyra, I didn't mean to pick on you. You can pick back at me if you want

_Lyra: My cat Velvet is in my lap. She's always there (g).

^Verla: Oh...I just read that sentence as...Wizard and Molly meet Velvet, who is sitting in my lap. (I read it that they are NOT being "introduced" to Velvet, but that they just got together with her in the lap.)

^GailM: I am back to where I need to be. Should I continue?

katrapp_: gee... i guess i will stick to really really simple sentances

^Verla: (Now you know why I write PICTURE books, kat! LOL)

MelLane: Me, too, kat. Too bad picture book writing is so hard!

_Lyra: picture book writing is SO hard...I pick mid-grade!

^GailM: Have I clarified enough?

katrapp_: you have confused us enough

^Verla: No, can you answer my question about that sentence I wrote with the THERE in it, gail?

^GailM: Copy the sentence again.

^Verla: two thoughts, there, separated by a comma.

^GailM: Give an example.

^Verla: full sentence would read: I had two thoughts, there, separated by a comma.

^Verla: I'm thinking the first comma is not necessary?

^GailM: I would drop the first comma.

^Verla: Goodie! I was right!

^GailM: Yeah! We agree!

^Verla: Party time!

^Verla: Oh....sorry. I will TRY to control myself

Dani257: After the workshop, Verla

*zbell : Verla? control yourself? lol

MelLane: Geez, Verla, you believe in practice, don't ya?

zbell WATCH IT, gal!

*zbell lol lol

^GailM: The smart, silly, awkward girls tried on dress-up clothes.

^GailM: Cold, fluffy snow piled up on the window sill.

^GailM: But what about: The combed cotton pullover had a purple hood.

_Lyra: looks fine to me

DonaV: a hypen between combed and cotton

DonaV: hyphen

Harazin: hyphen

^GailM: Naw, no hyphen. It is overused.

^GailM: Combed describes cotton, so the pullover is not combed. No comma.

^GailM: The woman carried a large, shabby leather briefcase. (The adjectives describe leather, not the briefcase.)

^GailM: ***Use commas to separate parenthetical words, phrases, or clauses from the rest of the sentence.

^GailM: Zack, of course, ate bread with his butter.

^GailM: Football weather, it is true, can be very cool, so wear your jacket. ['wear your jacket' can stand alone with the implied subject of 'you', so this coordinating conjunction, 'so', joins two independent clauses.]

^Verla: parenthetical words are like of, which, etc?

MelLane: What is a nonrestrictive clause?

^Verla: Thank you, mel. I didn't know that, either.

^GailM: No. The phrase 'who...' is non restrictive. i will cover that in a minute.

^GailM: Fall weather, my favorite time of the year, arrived last month, so enjoy it while it lasts. ('enjoy' carries the implied subject YOU. Put YOU there and it works.)

^GailM: ***Direct address--All you writers know how to punctuate dialogue.

^GailM: "Better to see you with, my dear," said the wolf.

^GailM: ***When you use 'yes' or 'no' at the beginning of a sentence, set it off with a comma.

^GailM: Yes, the time has come. No, I have had enough pancakes.

^GailM: Ah, here it comes!

^GailM: ***Use commas to separate non-restrictive clauses and phrases from the rest of the sentence. Restrictive means that it limits the words they modify. If they are not needed but supply additional information, they are non-restrictive.

katrapp_: i knew that one :)

^Verla: ah HA!

^GailM: Ralph Maki, who is our mailman, is a former airplane pilot. [This is not necessary to the sentence but supplies interesting info.]

^GailM: The man who is our mailman is a former airplane pilot. [Leave out the phrase and you can see that it is needed.]

^Verla: Non-restrictive words are like little Postscripts to a sentence, then. Like the word then?

^GailM: Don't know about the word 'then'. i need to see the sentence.

^GailM: The man who is our mailman is a former airplane pilot. [Leave out the phrase and you can see that it is needed.]

^Verla: The word then is IN the sentence I just wrote, gail. LOL

^Verla: Non-restrictive words are like little Postscripts to a sentence, then.

^GailM: Oh, It is parenthetical, your then, like, of course, or , sure,...

^GailM: I like books about people who have had eventful lives. [You cannot stop this sentence after 'people'. The clause is needed to make sense.]

^Verla: In that sentence I just posted, the word then is not actually NECESSARY, so it gets set off by a comma, right? (Just like the word "right" in THIS sentence.)

^GailM: Correct, Verla!

^GailM: Gold star time!

^Verla: YEAH! TWO gold stars for me!

^GailM: Let's practice this (notice the apostrophe in Let's). It's hard for me, so it is probably hard for you. Try reading the sentence without the restrictive clause to see if comas are needed.

^GailM: The fifty dollars that I had carefully saved was spent on dinner and a movie.

^GailM: ',that I had carefully saved,' It is not necessary to the sentence.

^Verla: yeah. No commas in there?

^GailM: It should look like this: The fifty dollars, that I had carefully saved, was spent on dinner and a movie.

^GailM: Her knees which were normally strong and firm were now weak and shaky.

^GailM: 'which were normally strong and firm' is needed. No commas.

^GailM: Ms Johnson's husband who is in the printing business promised to print the tickets for free.

^GailM: I feel the fact that he is in the printing business shows this is going to be a professional job but is not totally needed. Comma needed.

^GailM: It should look like this: Ms Johnson's husband, who is in the printing business, promised to print the tickets for free.

^GailM: My favorite in the play was Alexander Harding who played the role of the prince's tutor.

^GailM: A comma is needed. 'who played the role...' is just interesting information but not needed.

^GailM: I tried to find a vacation spot which would give me something different from the usual.

^GailM: When I heard the price which I think is outrageous I decided not to buy the house.

^GailM: Needs commas?

^Verla: comma after outrageous?

^Verla: I would have put a comma after outrageous!

MelLane: I'd say comma after price and outrageous.

^GailM: No commas. See, it is hard.

^Verla: yikes

^Verla: It sure is

^GailM: ***Use commas to separate appositives from the rest of the sentence.

^GailM: An appositive is a noun or phrase that restates the previous noun.

^GailM: Robert Frost, author of "Birches", is one of the finest American poets.

^GailM: Pete did not know that the author of the book, Mildred Pierce, was once a teacher.

^Verla: Gail! Our time is UP

katrapp_: gail, i bet you thought you were going to talk about mmre than commas tonight :)

katrapp_: thank you gail :)

^GailM: But, but, but, I have more!!!

MelLane: Please share, O Wise One of the Commas.

zbell: lol Gail, next time you can talk about periods!

katrapp_: i know, we can have you back again and again :)

^Verla: will have to wait til the NEXT workshop you do, gail. WEG (Wicked Evil Grin)

^GailM: I saw the WEG.

zbell: ah-ha! Verla IS going to get Gail back!

DonaV: May I ask a quick apostrophe question Gail?

^Verla: ask it FAST Dona...

^GailM: Shoot!

katrapp_: bang

^Verla: kat! Watch out! That bullet just BARELY missed her!

^Verla: Last question..

DonaV: Would it be: he made A's or As.

DonaV: talking about grades

^Verla: A's!

^GailM: All the grammar books say A's.

^GailM: Some new words are causing problems. URLs is now correct

^Verla: I vote for A's!

DonaV: Thanks!

^Verla: yeah!

zbell: I always like A's!

_Lyra: me, too

katrapp_: i never got many

katrapp_: and english was the worst

^Verla: GREAT workshop, Gail!

katrapp_: we need more on just comas i am sure

^Verla: Thank you!

^Verla: clap clap clap...

_Lyra: Great job, Gail! round of applause! clap, clap, clap!

zbell: clap, clap, clap, yeehaw, Gail!

MelLane: Gail, that was GREAT!! V, quick, sign her up for another one! Please!

Dani257: clap, clap, clap!

Windy2u: Thanks Gail.

-----END OF WORKSHOP------


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