Grammar Mechanics for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test Study Guide
Knowing the mechanics of language means getting down to basics—the rules of punctuation and capitalization. Punctuation marks are standardized marks that clarify meaning for your reader, serving as traffic signs that direct the reader to pause, connect, stop, consider, and go. Although most likely you have studied and learned many of the basic rules of punctuation and capitalization, this section will cover some common problem areas that may appear on the PPST exam, including misuse of commas, semicolons, colons, apostrophes, and capitalization.
Commas create pauses, clarify meaning, and separate different parts of a sentence. The comma splice is a common misuse of the comma. For the PPST exam, remember the six basic rules for using commas outlined on the following page.
Use a comma:
- To separate independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction, such as and, but, nor, so, for, or or. Use a comma before the conjunction.
- My instinct was to solve the problem slowly and deliberately, but we only had a week before the deadline.
- To set off nonessential clauses. A nonessential clause is one that can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning.
- My friend Rebecca, who is active in the local labor union, is a fifth-grade teacher.
- To set off words or phrases that interrupt the flow of thought in a sentence.
- The certification program, however, works well for me.
- Elena Alvarez, my adviser and mentor, was present at the meeting.
- To set off an introductory element, such as a word or phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence
- Thrilled by the results, Phin presented the study to his colleagues.
- To set apart a series of words in a list. Usually, the last item in a list is preceded by a conjunction. Although a comma is not necessary before the conjunction, it is preferred that you use one.
- Micah, Jose, and Sam attended the conference.
- Micah, Jose and Sam attended the conference.
- To separate elements of dates and addresses. Commas are used to separate dates that include the day, month, and year. Dates that include just the month and year do not need commas. When the name of a city and state are included in an address, set off both with commas.
- Margaret moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the job.
- Maco came to Greensboro on June 15, 2004, right after she graduated from the program.
- Maco came to Greensboro in June 2004 after she graduated from the program.
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