Commas with Transitions
Good transitionsTying two events, passages, or pieces of information together in a smooth way. In writing, transitions are sometimes called links. help make any piece of writing easier to understand because they work to link one idea to the next. Using them effectively, though, requires proper punctuationMarks such as such as a comma (,), period (.), question mark (?), and exclamation mark (!), among others, that help break a writing into phrases, clauses, and sentences. Different types of punctuation marks give the reader different impressions of the writer’s purpose in that sentence., because transitional wordsWords within a sentence that help tie one thought to another. Examples: however, similarly, also. and phrases are added information to any sentenceA group of words, phrases, or clauses that expresses a complete thought. A complete sentence has these characteristics: a capitalized first word, a subject and a predicate, and end punctuation, such as a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation mark (!).. More often than not, transitional phrasesPhrases within a sentence that help tie one thought to another. Examples: on the other hand, in contrast, for example. appear at the beginning of the sentence and should be punctuated like all other introductory phrasesA group of words that comes at the beginning of a sentence to provide additional information about the main part of the sentence.. You can learn to punctuate transitions by following four steps.
Step 1: Identify the subject.
First, identify the subjectIn grammar, a part of speech that refers to the “doer” in the sentence (who or what). A subject is usually a person, place or thing. in the sentence. Remember that this is the "who" or "what" that is being talked about in the sentence. Don't be fooled by subject pretendersA noun or pronoun in a phrase or clause that is not the subject of the sentence. It is referred to as a "pretender" because it can often be confused as the subject of the sentence. Example: While eating my mom's banana cream pie, I felt relieved to be home. In this sentence, mom could be seen as a subject pretender because I is the actual subject of the sentence, not mom.; not every nounA part of speech that refers to a person, place, or thing. Examples include: swimmer, lake, sunscreen. or pronounA part of speech that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase. Examples include: I, he, you, they. is the subject.
Step 2: Punctuate introductory phrases.
Second, see if there are any phrases or clausesA group of words in a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate. that come before the subject; these are introductory phrases. If so, follow the phrase or clause with a comma(,) A punctuation mark used to group and separate information in sentences.. If there are two or more phrases and/or clauses before the subject, only put a comma after the last one.
Incorrect: In the first place students who want to earn an "A" must never skip a class or miss an assignment.
Correct: In the first place, students who want to earn an "A" must never skip a class or miss an assignment.
The subject of the above sentence is students. It is preceded by the prepositional phraseA group of words that starts with a preposition and ends with a noun. For example, in the prepositional phrase, At the desk, At is the preposition and the desk is the noun., in the first place, so you must follow it with a comma.
Step 3: Identify transition words.
Next, identify the transition words that appear in the sentence. The most common transition words are called conjunctive adverbs, which are adverbs that join ideas together. The table below contains a list of conjunctive adverbs.
Step 4: Punctuate the transitional phrase.
Finally, punctuate the transitional phrase. If the conjunctive adverb appears at the start of a sentence, treat it like an introductory phrase. However, if it appears elsewhere, you need to decide whether to use a semicolon and comma or two commas. To do this, follow these guidelines:
Incorrect: Missing class is sometimes unavoidable however there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent an absence.
Correct: Missing class is sometimes unavoidable; however, there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent an absence.
In this sentence, the conjunctive adverb is however. The phrase before the conjunctive adverb is a complete sentence: Missing class is sometimes unavoidable. The phrase after it is also a complete sentence: there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent an absence. Therefore, a semicolon is placed before the conjunctive adverb and a comma is placed after it.
Incorrect: Missing class however is sometimes unavoidable.
Correct: Missing class, however, is sometimes unavoidable.
In this sentence, the conjunctive adverb is however. The phrase before the conjunctive adverb, Missing class, is not a complete sentence. The phrase after it, is sometimes unavoidable, is not a complete sentence, either. Therefore, a comma is placed before and after the conjunctive adverb.+ PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Consider this analogyA comparison of two things based on similarity.. The Panama Canal is a 48-mile engineering wonder that allows boats to travel from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in just 8 to 10 hours. Previously, ships had to travel 8,000 miles around South America to travel between these two oceans. Now, mechanisms in the canal can lift boats up 85 feet and back down, allowing passage through the jungle of Panama. The Panama Canal is not simply a river that runs between two oceans. It transitions boats up through a set of locks and back down. Without these transitions, the boats would be forced to make their way around South America; additionally, if the locks fail, the ships would become stuck.
As a writer, your transitions function much the same way as the Panama Canal. They move the reader through your writing more quickly and smoothly than writing without transitions. Be aware that including transitions without the proper punctuation is nearly as bad as not including them in the first place. It can cause your reader to get stuck and not easily identify your main ideasThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about. and supporting detailsStatements within a reading that tie directly to major details that support the main idea. These can be provided in examples, statistics, anecdotes, definitions, descriptions, or comparisons within the work. . Using transitions and punctuating them correctly will help professors and prospective employers understand your writing.
Read the original paragraph, and then notice how the transitions have been punctuated in the corrected paragraph.
There are a number of strategies that you can you use to find the main idea of a paragraph. To begin with look for the topic of the paragraph. After you identify the topic find the sentence that addresses the topic and is the most general of all the sentences. Be aware however that sometimes the main idea may be implied and not stated directly. These tactics ensure that you will find the topic sentence easily.
There are a number of strategies that you can you use to find the main idea of a paragraph. To begin with, look for the topic of the paragraph. After you identify the topic, find the sentence that addresses the topic and is the most general of all the sentences. Be aware, however, that sometimes the main idea may be implied and not stated directly. These tactics ensure that you will find the topic sentence easily.
Punctuate the transitions in the following paragraph.
Developing organized essays can be difficult for the writer new to academic writing however there are a number of steps one can take to guarantee good results. First and foremost plan what you want to write. Consider brainstorming before you begin writing. Once you have a number of ideas develop an outline. Additionally have a classmate, friend, or instructor confirm that your plan provides a solid foundation on which you can write. After you receive confirmation begin the writing and revising process. With enough writing and revising you will develop an essay that is sure to earn a good grade.
Developing organized essays can be difficult for the writer new to academic writing; however, there are a number of steps one can take to guarantee good results. First and foremost, plan what you want to write. Consider brainstorming before you begin writing. Once you have a number of ideas, develop an outline. Additionally, have a classmate, friend, or instructor confirm that your plan provides a solid foundation on which you can write. After you receive confirmation, begin the writing and revising process. With enough writing and revising, you will develop an essay that is sure to earn a good grade.
Do you use transitions in your writing?
I tend to use transitions like first, second, and third in my writing, which is a good start, but I hope to be more intentional about using them as I've found that identifying transitional words and phrases allows me to identify major details quickly.
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