Punctuation in complex sentences

You might have noticed that you didn’t get your usual Monday morning post this week. When I don’t manage to post it’s usually a sign that I’ve been very busy and this time is no exception! However, I did manage to put up a guest post last week which has some nice tips about immersing yourself in English (here if you missed it!).

My students are now getting down to some serious writing practice because of the exams that are coming up in the summer. Students’ punctuation is often good in short, simple sentences, but once sentences get longer things can get more difficult. One thing I’ve noticed is that many students make punctuation mistakes with complex sentences which have subordinate clauses in them. Don’t click away just because I said ‘subordinate clause’! It’s not that hard:

1. Because I was busy, I didn’t write a post at the weekend.

2. I didn’t write a post at the weekend because I was busy.

You should notice the comma in the first sentence but not the second and that is where students often go wrong – over punctuating! Look at the page on complex sentences from Sacramento State University which you can find here.

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