Correct answers to last week's challenge came in from nine readers (including a number of first responders--thanks for joining us!) Doug Blackley, Jimmy Moon,Sonia, Nancy Upchurch, Kara Jones, Jing Ping Fan, Linda Craig, and Larena Jackson.
Jing Ping Fan offered these correct answers with explanations in parentheses.
- The ice cream truck entered the neighborhood and turned on its loudspeaker. (no comma for compound predicate)
- The loudspeaker sputtered to life, and children came running. (needs a comma for compound sentence)
- Children were not the only patrons of the ice cream truck, but the adults tended to arrive more slowly. (needs a comma for compound sentence)
- Icy-cold confections soon moved through the neighborhood and dripped multicolored sweetness on the sidewalks. (no comma for compound predicate)
- A dog licked the sticky pavement under its owner's feet and a cat looked disdainfully down from its perch on a porch railing. (needs a comma for compound sentence)
- The truck trundled to the end of the block and turned out into the traffic of the main street, but it left an indelible mark on the memories of the children. (needs a comma for compound sentence)
JP also offers these ways to tell whether you've got a compound predicate or a compound sentence:
The way to tell if it is a compound sentence:
compound sentence =[subject + verb] + conjunction + [subject + verb]
Note: verb can be a real verb or predicate.
The conjunction can be any of the these: and, but, so, or, for, yet, nor.
This week's challenge
I am offering no explanation this week, because I just want to see what you all think of these sentences. Well, ok, a little explanation. These are examples of complex sentences (not that they are that complicated--complex is a technical grammar term), which contain an independent clause and a subordinate clause. When the subordinate clause is on the front of the sentence, as we saw a couple of weeks ago, it requires a comma. But when the subordinate clause is on the back, it requires a comma only if it is nonessential. Give these a try, because I am eager to see how people make these decisions.
- We came upstairs to see what was going on because the electricity had blinked off and on.
- Leaves, twigs, and hail battered the windows while a vicious wind tore at the screens.
- We could see the branches of all the trees in the woods surrounding the house whipping horizontally although the tree trunks were nearly invisible for the torrents of rain.
- A sickly green cast from the evil-looking sky lent an eery feeling while the hair on the backs of our necks stood on end.
- We ran back down to the basement because we were afraid the heavy, tall trees around the house would fall.
- We emerged into a leaf- and branch-bestrewn neighborhood after the storm had passed.
- We walked down the middle of the street while neighbors checked their cars and houses for damage.
- We did not know that a microburst had occurred over our neighborhood until we saw the evening news.
- A mile away a parked car was crushed when the roof of a building flew off and fell in the street.
- Our fence was crushed by a fallen tree although our house and shed were spared.
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No, sorry, you don't necessarily need a comma for a compound sentence. In fact, the first 2 above is certainly weakened by the comma. 5 omits the comma, and works well. Sorry, a grammatical pedant speaks, and an English one at that.
Posted by: Grammar and Punctuation Pedant | July 16, 2012 at 04:06 AM