Let’s face it: knowing when and how to use a comma – let alone a semicolon – can get all of us worried and upset. High school seemed so long ago. That class, maybe English, where the teacher droned on and on about adjectives and adverbs, clauses and conjunctions, and perhaps even went into prepositions, is slightly hazy in your memory. We get it; there is a lot to keep track of. Yet, your college instructors are going to expect you to use all of these elements appropriately in your college papers. Not only will your grammar and use of mechanics in your writing be important to your academic career, but also to your everyday life when you are out and about composing inner-office memos and emails to colleagues. This text is not meant to be the answer to all of your sentence structure questions; however, the items covered here should serve as an overview for your basic grammar problems when it comes to drafting your papers.
Parts of Speech
Before knowing anything about setting up a sentence and properly punctuating it, you should know the terminology for the building blocks of the English language. Grammarians sort the different types of words that make up the English language into different categories that make up what we call the parts of speech. The main categories are:
Each of these items are then broken down further into smaller and more specific categories. We will not go into that much detail here, but there are additional resources that can guide you through more of the intricate parts of speech, such as our College of Southern Nevada Centers for Academic Success page, which you can look over Here
How Do I Write A College-Level Sentence?
Some of the bigger items to focus on in your writing will be determining if you are making some of the most common mistakes, such as writing in run-ons and fragments. How can you determine which is which? The first step is recognizing what goes into writing clauses– both independent and dependent. Typically there will be subjects and verbs involved. For recognizing the different parts that make up sentences, see the helpful tips from the Centers for Academic Success Writing Center Here
After you visit the Writing Center’s web page, you should be able to recognize if a grouping of words can stand alone as a full sentence. Check your knowledge with the small set of questions below:
After being able to recognize what constitutes a full sentence, you should be aware of the common problems that most of us have when it come writing: those pesky run-on sentences and sentence fragments.
For a refresher on how to use the most common forms of punctuation, you may wish to see an in-depth explanation Here
After looking over the various forms of punctuation, try to test your skills by punctuating the paragraph below:
How to recognize and use FANBOYS (also known as Coordinating Conjunctions)
Your instructor will often point out in your papers that you have either run-on sentences, or that you have not included the appropriate punctuation with the necessary coordinating conjunctions. They may even call the coordinating conjunctions FANBOYS, which is a mnemonic device for remember the seven most common coordinating conjunctions: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. As you may remember from the definition of coordinating conjunctions earlier in the section, these are linking words that work to join other groups of words, such as clauses – especially independent clauses.
Here are two independent clauses: I like cheese. I do not like bleu cheese.
We can combine them to make something a little more complex by adding a comma and a coordinating.
conjunction in between like so: I like cheese, but I do not like bleu cheese.
If you would like to learn more about coordinating conjunctions, you may watch a series of videos by Khan Academy Here
After reading the information above and possibly watching the videos, I suggest you try the activity below in order to make sure you are truly comfortable with the concept of Coordinating Conjunctions, or FANBOYS.