"Serial" is a word that describes something that forms a series or is produced in multiple parts. Items in a series occur whenever a sentence includes a list of two or more things. The items can be any type of grammatical unit, such as nouns, verbs, participles, infinitives, or subordinate clauses, to name a few. A serial sentence is a sentence that contains a list of three or more words, phrases, clauses, etc.
REMINDERS: In-Sentence Lists can be of any type of grammatical unit, such as nouns, verbs, participles, infinitives, or subordinate clauses. These can add clarification and emphasis to specific nouns/verbs/details that you include in your list. Here are some basic grammar rules to remember:
• ○ Items in a series should have parallel structure. You maintain parallel structure when you use equal grammatical units. If the first item is a noun, then the following items must also be nouns; if the first item is a subordinate clause, then so must the other items be.
• ○ Whenever you have three or more items in a series, each item requires punctuation to separate it from the others. Depending on the complexity of the list, you can use either commas or semicolons - we explore this further in other handouts.
• ○ Use a colon to introduce the list items only if a complete sentence precedes the list. In this problem version, the colon breaks right into the middle of a sentence: Problem: For this project, you need: tape, scissors, and white-out. Revision: For this project, you need tape, scissors, and white-out.
• ○ Use both opening and closing parentheses on the list item numbers or letters: (a) item, (b) item, etc.
• ○ Use either regular Arabic numbers or lowercase letters within the parentheses, but use them consistently. (Do not punctuate either with periods.) Use lowercase for the text of in-sentence lists items, except when regular capitalization rules require caps.
• ○ Punctuate the in-sentence list items with commas if they are not complete sentences; with semicolons, if they are complete sentences.
• ○ Use the same spacing for in-sentence lists as in regular non-list text.
• ○ Make the in-sentence list occur at the end of the sentence. Never place an in-sentence list introduced by a colon anywhere but at the end of the sentence, as in this example: Problem: The following items: tape, scissors, and white-out are needed for this project. Revision: The following items are needed for this project: tape, scissors, and white-out.
We will focus specifically on...
Combining Clauses, which serves to express complex ideas within one sentence. We can link clauses with conjunctives, or words that illustrate the meaning between two clauses. If these words and punctuation marks are used incorrectly, sentence structure problems can occur.
○ Recall that a clause is defined as a word grouping that contains a subject and a verb. There are two kinds of clauses: independent clauses, which convey complete meaning and can stand alone as simple sentences, and dependent clauses, which do not express a complete idea on their own and must be paired with another clause. We use different conjunctive words and punctuation to connect these different types of clauses.
○ It is important to show logical connections between ideas by using words that show cause and effect such as because, since, and so, and words that show contrast such as but, yet and although. Here are some examples: choppy She took dance classes. She had no natural grace or sense of rhythm. She eventually gave up the idea of becoming a dancer. revised She took dance classes, but she had no natural grace or sense of rhythm, so she eventually gave up the idea of becoming a dancer. Join multiple actions by the same agent into one sentence by using subordination (phrases beginning with if, when, after, as, etc.) and coordination (sentences and phrases joined by conjunctions like and, but, so, etc.). choppy Bears emerge from hibernation in the spring. They wander through wetlands. They feed mainly on grasses. revised When bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, they wander through wetlands and feed mainly on grasses.
STRATEGIES: Check to see if your sentence has only one subject-verb combination. If there are two (or more) combinations like that, then there are two separate clauses in the sentence, and they need to be combined using one of the above methods. Identify fragments by looking at the first word of the sentence. If it starts with a subordinating conjunction, such as since, while, which, who, or until, it needs to be connected with another clause.
In the passage below, identify and correct any errors related to combining clauses.
The instructor uses behaviorism, constructivism, and the information processing theory successfully in her classroom on a daily basis however, one theory that she uses in correlation to all these theories is the Sociocultural Theory. It is important for students to learn from constructing their own portfolios they learn to write about situations and cultures within their own framework. The combination of the two methods not only allows students to understand new information in association with the information they already know. They also get practice constructing the new information within their own schemas. The best method for a classroom with a diverse group of students is to vary the different learning theories, it is important to continue to anticipate problems and solutions in order to help the students learn best in their own ways. To individualize the learning process, the instructor must evaluate the needs of each student for example some students maybe be auditory learners while others process information visually. Although individualization is effective. This mode of teaching requires the instructor to devote more time to planning and customizing classroom lessons. The instructor may need extended planning time, a teaching assistant can provide additional support in this case.
Practice exercise adapted from Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers. (2009). Ann Arbor, MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan.
“Using Coordinating Conjunctions.” Grammar and Punctuation: Using Coordinating Conjunctions, writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CoordConj.html.
“Choppy Sentences.” Choppy Sentences : Quick Help : Student Writing Support : Center for Writing : University of Minnesota, writing.umn.edu/sws/quickhelp/style/choppysentences.html.
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