Please note: For some people, the the Oxford comma is dead. In fact, it lives on in instructors’ classrooms, which is why keen eyes will spot it on the “list” commas slide.
That’s it: the six ways. Of course there are plenty of writers who use more than one way in a single sentence. However, your writing will not suffer (and may even be better) for not doing so yourself. Now, go practice!
A reminder: A phrase is a group of words that does not include a subject and verb. A clause is one that does.
The four possible structures of a sentence:
- A simple sentence, which contains an independent clause
- A compound sentence, which contains two or more independent clauses connected with a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon
- A complex sentence, which contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
- A compound-complex sentence, which is a hybrid. It is a variation on a compound sentence where a complex sentence has replaced one or both of the independent clauses.
Here are some examples:
Let’s imagine a sentence is a grownup with a job. It doesn’t live at work, though. Nope. It functions equally well away from its paragraph workplace and out on its own because a sentence is fully independent, thankyouverymuch. And independence is not the focus of this post. (Need to review sentence types and the proper punctuation for them? Go here.)
I once graded an essay so heavily marked with commas and apostrophes that it resembled a spray of ink dots more than it did writing. My student, pink with embarrassment, admitted his personal rule of thumb had always been to alternate “loads” of punctuation on one assignment with “zip” on the next. He assumed he’d be right about half the time either way.
How can anxiety over punctuation rules be avoided? Stop looking at sentences and wondering whether the correct rule has been applied. Instead,