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Core Handout

February 7, 2013

Core Handout–for Alice Massa’s English Classes

NOTE: At each class meeting, you should have this Core Handout, as well as the CBWA Handout and your syllabus/course calendar.

Part 1. Phrases, Clauses, and Types of Sentences

A phrase is a group of related words; however, unlike a clause, a phrase does not contain a subject and a verb. A phrase can never stand alone as a complete sentence.

Prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, gerund phrases, and participial phrases will be reviewed in later parts of this handout and will add variety to your writing. (Also, please refer to “Verbals Worksheet” which you will receive later in the semester.)

Unlike a phrase, a clause must contain both a subject and a verb. In our English language, we have two types of clauses–independent and dependent. An INDEPENDENT CLAUSE can stand alone as a sentence; a DEPENDENT CLAUSE cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.

The three basic types of sentences in our English language are: simple, complex, and compound. A simple sentence consists of one independent clause. A compound sentence includes at least two independent clauses. A complex sentence is comprised of at least one dependent clause and one independent clause. (Refer to Part 2 of this handout for more information about compound sentences; refer to Part 3 for more review of complex sentences.)

Part 2. Coordinating Conjunctions, Semicolons, and Patterns for Compound Sentences

The clue phrase for remembering the seven coordinating conjunctions of our English language is FAN BOYS.

F–for, A–and, N–nor
B–but, O–or, Y–yet, S–so

Never begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction!

To achieve greater variety in your writing, you will include some compound sentences. A compound sentence is a sentence which consists of at least two independent clauses. The two independent clauses may come together in one of the following ways:

Pattern 1: Subject + verb + comma + coordinating conjunction + subject + verb.

E-1. The capital of Missouri is Jefferson City, but the largest city in Missouri is

St. Louis.
Core Handout (page two)

Pattern 2: When “Pattern 1” has at least one additional comma within at least one of the independent clauses, the comma before the coordinating conjunction must be changed to the stronger mark of punctuation–the semicolon.

E-2. Fred’s descriptive essay incorporated the senses of sight, hearing, and touch; and

Mary’s essay described her subject through the senses of sight, smell, and taste.

Pattern 3: Subject + verb; subject + verb.

When two independent clauses come together without a coordinating conjunction or a transitional word to form one sentence, only a semicolon is placed at the end of the first independent clause.

E-3. The title page will be the first page of your term paper; the Works Cited will be

the final page of your research paper.

Pattern 4: Subject + verb; transitional word or phrase + comma + subject + verb.

When bringing together two independent clauses with a transitional word (or transitional phrase), place a semicolon at the end of the first independent clause and a comma after the transitional word or phrase.

E-4. Stanley knew the elements of a good essay; however, he had never written a

personal mission statement previously.

SPECIAL NOTE: The semicolon is similar to the equal sign in mathematics: the same grammatical structure must be on either side of the semicolon. In patterns two, three, and four, an independent clause is both before and after each semicolon: a subject and a verb are on either side of the semicolon.

** Pattern 5: In this fifth sentence pattern, the example is NOT a compound sentence: it is a simple sentence with compound predicate nouns. While the semicolon is used to separate major parts of the series, the comma is used to separate minor parts of the series.

E-5. In addition to Europe, Edgar A. Poe lived in Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore,

Maryland; and New York City, New York.

In the previous example, the semicolon still works as an equal sign to indicate that the items in the series are equal to or parallel with one another.

Core Handout (page three)

Part 3. Subordinating Conjunctions and Complex Sentences

Subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent clauses.
Beginning a sentence with a subordinating conjunction will add VARIETY to your writing.

Pattern 1: Subordinating conjunction + subject + verb + comma + subject + verb.
Dependent clause + comma + independent clause.

E-1. When I complete this class, I will be more at ease with public speaking.

Pattern 2: Subject + verb + subordinating conjunction + subject + verb.
Independent clause + dependent clause. (NOTE: No comma is used when the independent clause is written prior to the dependent clause.)

E-2. I will be more at ease with public speaking when I complete this class.

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

After, although, as, as far as, as soon as, as if, as though, because, before, even if,

even though, how, if, inasmuch as, insofar as, no matter how, once, provided that, since,

so that, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while, why

Part 4. Prepositional Phrases/Prepositions

A prepositional phrase is a phrase which begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun (which is called the object of the preposition). Beginning a sentence with a prepositional phrase will add VARIETY to your writing.
When a pronoun is the object of the preposition, be certain to use an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, you, or them).
When a prepositional phrase is introductory, place a comma after the prepositional phrase (example #1); however, when the introductory prepositional phrase is followed directly by a verb of being, do not use a comma after the prepositional phrase which begins a sentence (example #2).

Example #1: During the summer term, I completed my humanities requirements.

Example #2: Beneath the bed are four pairs of jogging shoes.

Core Handout (page four)

List of Prepositions

Aboard, about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, along with,
among, apart from, around, as, as for, at, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, by, by means of, concerning, despite, down, during,
except, except for, for, from, in, in addition to, in back of, in case of, in favor of,
in front of, in place of, inside, in spite of, instead of, into, like, near, next, of, off, on,
onto, on account of, on top of, out, out of, outside, over, past, regarding, since, through,
throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, unlike, until, unto, up, upon, up to, with,
within, without

Part 5. Infinitive Phrases

An infinitive is to + a verb. An infinitive is a verb without a subject. An infinitive phrase is an infinitive with its modifiers and complements.
While to + a NOUN (or PRONOUN) is a prepositional phrase, to + a verb is an infinitive.

To write (infinitive)
To write quickly and effectively (infinitive phrase)
To write quickly and effectively for an essay examination is a challenge.
(The above sentence begins with an infinitive phrase which is also the subject of the sentence; note that a comma is not used to separate the subject from the verb.)

To write quickly and effectively for an essay examination, the students completed a practice examination.
(The above sentence begins with an infinitive phrase which is not the subject of the sentence; note the use of the comma to separate the introductory infinitive phrase from the remainder of the independent clause.)
Beginning a sentence with an infinitive phrase will add VARIETY to your writing.

Part 6. Gerund Phrases

A gerund is a verbal which works as a noun. A gerund phrase may be the subject, direct object, or object of a preposition in a sentence. Although not all words which end with ing are gerunds, all gerunds do end with ing. Beginning a sentence with a gerund will add VARIETY to your writing.

Completing this class with an “A” average is my goal.
Writing a poem brightens my day.
Core Handout (page five)

Part 7. Participial Phrases: Present and Past Participles

A participle is a verbal which works as an adjective and modifies a noun or pronoun. A present participle ends with ING; a past participle ends with ED, D, N, or T. A participial phrase includes the participle and its modifiers and complements.
Beginning a sentence with a participial phrase will add VARIETY to your writing.

Watching the Circus Parade, the child smiled at every clown.

In the above example, the present participle watching modifies the noun child; also note that a comma is always placed after an introductory participial phrase.

Framed in gold, the portrait was exquisite.

In the above example, the past participle framed modifies the noun portrait; again note that a comma is placed after the introductory participial phrase.
In your writing, place the participial phrase near the noun or pronoun which the participle modifies.

Part 8. Transitional Words and Phrases

Beginning a sentence with a transitional word or phrase will add VARIETY to your writing. Also, transitional words and phrases add coherence to your writing.

To signify addition: also, in addition, moreover, furthermore,
equally important, then, finally
To signify examples: for example, for instance, thus, specifically
To signify contrast: however, on the other hand, nevertheless, nonetheless,
conversely, in contrast
To signify comparison: similarly, likewise
To signify concession: of course, to be sure, certainly
To signify result: therefore, thus, as a result, so, accordingly
To signify summation: hence, in short, in brief, in summary, in conclusion, finally
To signify time sequence: first, second, third, next, then, finally, afterwards,
soon, later, meanwhile, subsequently, immediately, eventually, currently
To signify place: in the front, in the foreground, in the back, in the background,
at the side, nearby, in the distance

Some of the transitional words are adverbs, and some of the transitional phrases are also prepositional phrases.

Core Handout (page six)

Part 9. Pronouns

A pronoun is a word which takes the place of a noun.

Subject Pronouns
–singular –plural
first person: I we
second person: you you
third person: he, she, it, one they

Object Pronouns
–singular –plural
first person: me us
second person: you you
third person: him, her, it them

Possessive Pronouns
–singular –plural
first person: my, mine our, ours
second person: your, yours your, yours
third person: his, her/hers, its their, theirs

Reflexive Pronouns (Reflexive pronouns cannot stand alone as the subject of a sentence.)
–singular –plural
first person: myself ourselves
second person: yourself yourselves
third person: himself, herself, themselves
itself, oneself
(Use a reflexive pronoun only when it is coupled with the appropriate subject pronoun.)

Part 10. Adverbs

Adverbs are words which modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs can enrich our writing, but use them prudently.
“Not” is always an adverb–never a verb! Most frequently, words which end with the letters ly are adverbs. “When? Where? How? How much? To what extent did an action take place?” are the questions which adverbs answer. Some of the commonly used adverbs include:
always, accurately, barely, carefully, cheerfully, costly, distinctly, easily, effectively, efficiently, effortlessly, finally, first, frequently, greatly, hastily, here, ironically, jointly, languidly, meekly, nearly, never, next, not, oddly, particularly, partially, quickly, quietly, rather, rarely, really, severely, secondly, so, then, there, today, tomorrow, uniquely, very, wisely, yesterday
Core Handout (page seven)

Part 11. Helping Verbs

Having reviewed that each clause has a subject and a verb, you should keep in mind that the verb may consist of a single verb or a verb phrase. A verb phrase includes one or more helping verbs and the accompanying main verb.

The following is a list of helping verbs:

am, is, are
was, were,
will, will be, would, would be, would have, would have been,
shall, shall be, should, should be, should have been,
can, could, could be, could have been,
may, may be, might, might be, might have, might have been,
must, must be, must have been,
do, does, did,
has, have, had

Special Note

As an individual who is trying to improve writing skills, you are most welcome to print and use this document as a study guide or reference sheet. If you are a teacher or instructor who would like to use this document for classroom or another multiple-use purpose, please request permission to do so. Thank you!

Happy writing!
Alice Jane-Marie Massa
February 7, 2013


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