Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Comma, because

I just received a corrected draft of a research paper and noticed a common theme in the mistakes I made. Often, the mistakes had to do with the Czech language.

Huh? But I'm writing in English! Czech has nothing to do with that! Oh, but it does, I found out.


I took an online English writing class in junior-high (psssst...I highly recommend WriteAtHome!), which gave me so many skills for writing. Other than those classes, I didn't learn much English grammar until late high-school. Even then, the grammar I learned was aimed at Czechs and dealt with issues that they needed work on, not what I needed work on (rightfully so, since it was a Czech school!).

With Czech, it was the opposite. I spent plenty of time drilling Czech grammar. Writing in Czech never came as naturally to me as writing in English, so I had to learn all of the rules for when I couldn't just "feel" it. I had to learn the list of rules for commas before conjunctions (the list is complicated, really).

I did learn this list! Once I had that down, I was able to distinguish (for the most part) when to use a comma. The drawback of learning this well is that I sometimes confuse it with English.

That brings me to my paper. The most often repeated mistake I made was putting a comma before "because". Why? Because in Czech, you put commas before the word "proto┼że".

It sure is a good thing that I have this time in the States to straighten out these minor important life skills in my first language. Now I need to go correct all those grammar mistakes in my paper. I will try to think of English grammar, instead of Czech grammar!

P.S. Heh. I really hope I didn't make any mistakes in commas while writing here. I'm going to try to be super good about it! 

7 comments:

  1. No judgements in my world. You can write to me with all the commas you want to use! (And any other punctuation marks too...&%#@?+^)

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  3. Commas are one of the problems that my kids had when going to school in the US. Get a good online grammar editor program that can help with this. I think Czech grammar was so drilled into your minds that you'll always defer that direction.

    If this is your biggest problem at college, no worries!

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  4. I normally put a comma before "because," and I've lived in the States my whole life. I guess I've been doing it wrong all these years, too!? Hmmm....I'm confused now! haha!

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  5. I guess it all just really depends on how the sentence flows, so that you can break it up appropriately? Ineteresting! I'll have to read up on this!

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  6. I hadn't even thought about the whole punctuation dilemma you'd have because I naively assumed you just "knew" English. You're so right that writing is different than speaking.

    My respect for you just went up another notch to hear that you didn't even learn some of the grammar "stuff" until late high school and now you're writing college papers!! So proud of you for jumping in and doing the work, all the while remembering that your DO is not your WHO. It's so refreshing to hear you write about this and not have it define who you are while being totally open about it. Go Claire! :o)

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  7. I hadn't even thought about the whole punctuation dilemma you'd have because I naively assumed you just "knew" English. You're so right that writing is different than speaking.

    My respect for you just went up another notch to hear that you didn't even learn some of the grammar "stuff" until late high school and now you're writing college papers!! So proud of you for jumping in and doing the work, all the while remembering that your DO is not your WHO. It's so refreshing to hear you write about this and not have it define who you are while being totally open about it. Go Claire! :o)

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