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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:46 am 
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I have realised that something is missing from my punctuation education as I cannot explain the questions below. I realise after typing this message that some of the explanations are about whether the adjectives are co-ordinate or not - see http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive ... ordadj.htm I was never taught this. Are primary school children taught this in SPAG these days or are the GL familiarisation questions beyond the school syllabus in parts?

PAPER 2
Question 34
We hunted around for the simplest yummiest cake to tempt all you cooks out there - and we think we've found it.

A comma is needed between simplest and yummiest. Why do some adjectives need commas between them and others do not?

Question 36
We know it's hard to believe, but the secret is mayonnaise.

Why is the comma needed before the but?

PAPER 3

Question 34
It was a cold, dark night up on the moor.

Why is the comma needed between these two adjectives?

Question 36
He wouldn't tell her that, though.

Why is the comma needed after "that"?

Question 41
The only sound was the quick, rhythmic pounding of his own heart.

Why is the comma needed between these two adjectives?

PAPER 4

Question 35
The single eye in the middle of its green, scaly forehead did not blink.

Why is the comma needed between these two adjectives?

PAPER 5
Question 44
Mardon Drama Club is looking for talented young people to join the cast of the next production.

Why isn't a comma needed between these two adjectives?

Question 48
You may also be selected to read a short piece from the script, but no preparation is necessary.

Why is a comma needed after "but"?

Question 50
The Pantomime of Snow White is a firm family favourite.

Why isn't a comma needed between the two adjectives?

PAPER 6
Question 38
Dave suggested a fancy meal, Charlie proposed a huge party for family, friends and neighbours, and Maisie's choice was a weekend by the sea.

Why is a comma needed after neighbours?

Question 40
Maureen's family gathered around a huge, circular table.

Why is a comma needed after huge?

PAPER 8
Question 30
She'd spent the afternoon separation raffle tickets, folding them into small squares and placing them all in a huge, empty biscuit tin.

Why is a comma needed between huge and empty?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:32 am 
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I don't know "why", but I was taught to separate adjectives with a comma. I thought not putting a comma in was a question of 'style' (100 years' ago I did an 'in-house' copy-editing course; not sure how 'correct' it was though).

I think the comma before "but" is because it's linking a main clause and a subordinate clause together. (Some people say the comma separates the two types of clause, but my English teacher insisted it was a 'joining' mechanism!)

I have to say, I have often argued with the GL English answer sheet. A fat lot of good it's done me. :roll: :wink:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:58 am 
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Thanks FB. It is all very puzzling isnt' it? That link explains quite well which types of adjectives to separate by a comma and which not - I was never taught this and not sure if primary schools ever teach it.

The other examples do still puzzle me a bit though - the comma before a "but" business. I understand your explanation but ,,,,,,????? I feel much less sure about when to put a comma before a "but" and when not to. Isn't a "but" always before a clause which is subordinate in some way? So should all "buts" have commas before them?

And what about the comma before "though" and "and" in those other two examples which are not about adjectives? They puzzle me too.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:07 pm 
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I don't understand the comma business either. Will gave to look it up and try and explain it to dd as she is rubbish and has been saying but why wasn't there a comma in previous sentences etc. If our three are the same then hopefully it is across the board.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:12 pm 
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I'm going to check it against the GL papers but that link is useful and easy to remember. Thanks Mystery.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:15 pm 
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Haven't managed to look at your link yet,rushing aroudn like blue -proverbial fly today. Will look this evening. I keep telling myself this will all be over soon :roll:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:40 pm 
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mystery wrote:
Thanks FB. It is all very puzzling isnt' it? That link explains quite well which types of adjectives to separate by a comma and which not - I was never taught this and not sure if primary schools ever teach it.

The other examples do still puzzle me a bit though - the comma before a "but" business. I understand your explanation but ,,,,,,????? I feel much less sure about when to put a comma before a "but" and when not to. Isn't a "but" always before a clause which is subordinate in some way? So should all "buts" have commas before them?

And what about the comma before "though" and "and" in those other two examples which are not about adjectives? They puzzle me too.




You cannot split a subject from its verb, that over rides other rules.

Ken likes cakes and is fat. Cannot have a comma as you would separate Ken from is.

Ken likes cakes, and he is fat. Can have a comma because he acts as subject instead of Ken in the second phrase of the sentence.

Complete nonsense of course, but that seems to be the case with many elements of English.

Haven't got a clue about lists of adjectives and commas, I was just taught to bung one in until the last adjective before the noun, I don't think I will be able to change now, even though I have clearly been doing it wrong for thirty five odd years. :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:23 pm 
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I understand the adjective business from that link. But these are the ones that still puzzle me:

Question 36
We know it's hard to believe, but the secret is mayonnaise.

Why is the comma needed before the but?

Question 36
He wouldn't tell her that, though.

Why is the comma needed after "that"?

Question 48
You may also be selected to read a short piece from the script, but no preparation is necessary.

Why is a comma needed after "but"?

Question 38
Dave suggested a fancy meal, Charlie proposed a huge party for family, friends and neighbours, and Maisie's choice was a weekend by the sea.

Why is a comma needed after neighbours?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:09 pm 
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As for question 38, the comma is to "separate clauses when the subject of each clause is different". That is what I understand, from Susan Daughtrey's Punctuation book 1. It is probably the most useful book I bought for English 11+. I am not comfortable with punctuation myself so it helps.
Dave, Charlie and Maisie are the subjects of 3 different clauses.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:17 pm 
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From that same book, it seems that the comma before 'though' is not compulsory but rather a matter of preference. I suppose the comma accentuates the contrast.

I think that the commas have to be put before the 'but' because the separated clauses have different subjects.

I hope this helps, it has been a good exercise for me to check this up!


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