Making grammar exciting for students is rewarding and challenging at the same time. Whenever the opportunity arises, I like to add tangible and relatable elements to grammar instruction. For instance, the comma is a powerful, useful, and valuable punctuation marks, and teaching phrases and clauses can be fun!
Teaching Phrases and Clauses
To make the comma relatable to students, I might ask them to think of a household item that is powerful, useful, and valuable. Often, students will answer with vacuum cleaner. I would then ask students to brainstorm the traits of the vacuum. The might say it is sturdy, cleans up messes, and makes areas neat. Then, I would ask them how that might compare to a comma.
A comma acts as a strong structural element in a sentence. If too many words make a sentence clunky, a comma cleans up the mess. A comma separates sentences into manageable segments, keeping sentences tidy. What follows is a quick guide to comma use when teaching phrases and clauses.
Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of the seven FANBOYS, or coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
Use commas after introductory or dependent clauses or phrases that come before the independent clause.
Avoid commas after the independent clause when a dependent clause follows (unless an extreme contrast is given).
What follows are some common words to signify dependent clauses:
Phrases and Clauses Practice
Crafting Clever Sentences is a fun way to engage students in phrases and clauses practice. There are three different graphic organizers available to get your students writing with commas, phrases, and clauses. You can provide students with one of the Crafting Clever Sentences organizers or with all three.
Each organizer will task students with a different objective for phrases and clauses practice. If you want to publicize your students’ work, transfer the graphic organizer to big chart paper and have each student write one of their sentences on it! Download the Crafting Clever SentencesPhrases and Clauses Organizers now.