Combining clauses (complete thoughts) can be confusing, and it’s, no doubt, something that scares most students. Okay, it’s something that scares all of us, and something the best of us get wrong from time to time. Here’s a list of commonly used punctuation scenarios as well as some additional resources listed throughout and at after the list. Many of these are simplified for example, but I’ve provided more detailed examples as supplemental resources as well.


  1. Complete thought + comma conjunction + complete thought.
    • I want to travel to Europe, and I want to see the Louvre.
    • List of conjunctions: FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
  2. Complete thought + semicolon + transitional word + comma + complete thought.
    • I want to travel to Europe; in fact, I want to see the Louvre.
      Examples of transitional words/adverbial conjunctions: also, besides, instead, therefore, nonetheless, furthermore, for instance, likewise, in addition, for example, however, otherwise
  3. Complete thought + semicolon + complete thought.
    • I want to travel to Europe; I want to see the Louvre.


  1. Complete thought + no punctuation + subordinating conjunction + dependent clause
    • I want to travel to Europe even though I don’t speak another language.
    • Examples of subordinating conjunctions: after, until, while, since, thought, unless, because, whether, rather than, provided that, where, wherever
  2. Transitional word + dependent clause + comma + complete thought.
    • Even though I don’t speak another language, I want to travel to Europe.
    • Examples of transitional words/subordinating conjunctions: after, until, unless, because, since, whenever, as if, rather than, while, since

Comma Boat (Subordination with Relative Pronoun Clauses)

  1. Complete thought initiated + comma + nonessential thought + comma + complete thought completed.
    • I want to travel to Europe, which will take years of putting money aside, to see the Louvre.
    • The sentence “I want to travel to Europe to see the Louvre” is the complete thought here, and the nonessential thought “which will take years of putting money aside” is floating in the sentence in a comma boat.

Other Comma Usage Scenarios

  1. Transitional/Introductory word + comma + complete thought.
    • Eventually, I want to travel to Europe.
    • On September 28, 2017, I published this post on my website, and I hope it helps some students with their concerns about punctuation.
    • Common transitional words: however, additionally, eventually, oftentimes
  2. Incomplete thought + comma + incomplete thought + comma + complete thought.
    • Even though I don’t have the funds right now, considering I am good at saving money, I want to travel to Europe.
  3. Use commas to separate a list; the final comma MUST BE USED when it helps clarify the means to readers:
    • I like dogs, cats, and rats.
      • the comma here is optional because reader won’t be confused by this sentence.
    • I like spaghetti, ravioli, and macaroni and cheese.
      • the comma here is necessary to help clarify the meaning because there are so many “ands”
    • I want to travel to Europe, drink coffee in the best coffee house in Paris, gaze into the eyes of Mona Lisa, and have enough money to bring my brother.

Dash and Colons

  1. Dashes are used to emphasize or define.
    • The sky was a deep shade of green–chartreuse.
    • The sky was such  deep shade of green–chartreuse–that I was worried whether I should take shelter.
  2. Colons are used to set-up a list or to answer an implied question, with a few stipulations:
    1. Use a colon after a complete thought.
    2. Do not use a colon after a words such as including or excluding.
    3. Do not use a colon after a verb.
    4. No colon used because of the verb and its not a complete thought: She ordered two shoes, three bags, and four pairs of Star Wars socks.
    5. Can use a colon because it’s a complete thought: Yesterday she ordered a ton of items: two shoes, three bags, and four Star Wars socks.

Resources (I’ll add some more): 

Sentence Patterns

General Punctuation Resource


Score BIG Details

This is for the 2017 Pilot Program. I have enrolled the following classes for competition: ENG 1002; ENG 1001-10; ENG 0900-01; ENG 0900-04. Here are the details as I understand them; provide din ENG 1002 “storytelling” terms:
The premise: a campus wide competition between 18-20 classes (some are still signing up).
The hero/heroine: you guys as a class!!
The antagonistic forces: the other classes; procrastination; motivation
The war:
  • You will receive email direction and more detail once you complete STEP 1 directions below.
  • Student scores should be updated in Blackboard by Friday morning each week.  On Friday afternoon each week the class leaderboard will be posted on the library’s digital monitor by the cyber cafe.
  • The deadline: student deadline for completion is November 21, 2017.  The program is designed for students to complete the activities on their own time throughout the semester, so the earlier they start, the better they will do in class and in the game.
The aftermath (what you and we win):
  • Class prize: Each class is competing for a class prize.  With the winning instructor’s permission and designation of a class period near the end of the semester, the Student Life Space and its gaming equipment will be reserved for the entire class period and refreshments will be served. The type of refreshment may vary depending on the time of day the winning class meets. A tiebreak is yet to be determined, but likely some sort of final class challenge.
  • Individual prize: based on highest points achieved. The tiebreak will be the first completer with the highest points.  If the student owns a vehicle the prize includes a gas card and a service at the IVCC automotive department.  If the student uses public transportation the prize includes a pass to the transportation system and a gift card to the cafeteria.
STEP 1 Directions:  log into your student email account and send an email to shd@ivcc.edu with “Join Score BIG” in the subject line. Include your K#, name, and which class/section in the email. When you are enrolled in the Blackboard for Score BIG you will get an email response giving them instructions.  Just for accomplishing the sign-up step from your IVCC email account you will get your first 5 point. Visit this link or the Learning Commons if you have trouble accessing your student email account.

Research Essay Library Resources

Work on the research essay will be getting underway within the next few days for most of you and has already begun for a few of you who are working ahead due to summer obligations. Research can be tricky if you’re new to the expectation, so please be sure to use the resources I’m providing and reach out for assistance when needed.

NOTE: students who use these resources spend much less time worrying about, generally freaking out about, or completely redoing research, even though the video feels like a time commitment. Every semester I read student reflections about their research essays that mention they should have spent more time using the provided resources; some of them even discover them a few days before the essay due date and end up reworking their entire paper as a result.

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Citation Sandwich Expectations

This can be used as an example for the ENG 1002 essays. The “Citation Sandwich” PowerPoint provides this information as well. And while I’ll be specifically grading for citation sandwiches, sandwiching your evidence within your body paragraphs in the way I’ve outlined below will bring a couple key things to your academic writing:

  1. Academic Authority: providing appropriate signal phrases and explanation will show readers that you’re using credible and relevant sources that fit within the context of your argument.
  2. Organization: preparing readers for what is coming with a topic sentence, signal phrase, and helping them see the connections that you’ve just made with your citation examples and wrap-up sentences will help them understand the content that you’re providing them. It’s like a little mini 5-paragraph essay within your body paragraphs.
  3. Grading: while my grading expectations include citation sandwich formatting specifically, I’ve simply named a common grading expectation the “citation sandwich” to make things more clear for students. Additionally, most IVCC English instructors use the department grading guidelines that looks for strong organization, thesis, and support within student writing, something use of citation sandwiches will generally provide your essay.

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Writing About Literature

When writing a literary analysis, many students focus heavily on their chosen interpretation of the literary work(s), their unique thesis, and/or finding and using appropriate sources to support their arguments. And that is absolutely what they should be doing.

However, because those are big tasks and students are almost always taking at least one other course and working at the same time (some are even raising children, working full time, running businesses, or dealing with big family or personal health concerns), it’s very easy to overlook the tiny details that professors expect into a college-level literary essay. Here’s a quick list that will help you stay in the grade range your argument deserves rather than lose you points due to the “important small stuff.”

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ENG 1002 Online Course Rubrics

These rubrics are also available in our course Blackboard shell as well as embedded into assignment links. If you have questions about rubrics, my grading expectations, or have concerns about a grading mistake, please email, message, or visit my office hours.

Please bring grading concerns to my attention as soon as possible.

English Comp. II Online Course Rubrics

Discussion Board (DB) Response and Participation Rubric

Journal Response Rubric

Peer Review Process Rubric


In-text Citation Example

This can be used as a general in-text citation example for a direct quote. But don’t forget that every citation needs to be properly incorporated into your body paragraph/essay text, whether direct, paraphrase/summary, primary, or secondary.

Below is a default in-text citation sample, one mentioning the author name and one mentioning the character in question (useful for literary criticism/analysis). Both use a story we study in ENG 1002, ENG 1003, and ENG 2013 but with a fake page number:

The girl states, “will you please please please please please stop talking” (Hemingway 525).

Hemingway writes, “will you please please please please stop talking” (525).

And this is what you do if you’re using a database source that does not have page numbers.

The author writes, “that was the best scholarly evidence about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance I had ever read” (Smith).

Smith writes, “that was the best scholarly evidence about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance I had ever read.”