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


2017 Creative Writing Final Exam

Next time we meet is our final exam period at 11:00-1:30 p.m. on Tues. May 9 in the Fireplace Lounge, B214. You’re welcome to bring food or drinks to share. Once again, here is the printable Final Portfolio and Showcase assignment sheet, and here’s a link to the assignment folder on Blackboard (it’ll prompt you to log in). And in case it helps, here’s a link to the Monster Group assessment and one to the workshop reflection folder. 

I’ve also included a checklist, of sorts, for what is due and expected for next week’s showcase:

  1. Post any reflections you have yet to finish (Monster group or workshop).

  2. Tues. May 9 in the Fireplace Lounge, B214 from 11:00-1:30 p.m.
  3. Have an introduction for the person that goes after you in the showcase order.
  4. Be prepared with a proofread portfolio that follows option 1 or option 2 (see the assignment sheet if you’re confused).
  5. Your portfolio will also include a 100-300 word third-person bio and a one-page response about writing, your writing process, or your experience in this class.
  6. Graded portfolios will be outside my office door the first few weeks of the fall 2017 semester; if you’re not going to be around, let me know and I’ll have it available outside my office between May 11 through May 20.

Showcase Order

Please don’t forget that you will write a brief introduction for the person that follows you in the showcase. Mention some of the pieces you remember and some of that person’s strengths as a writer/human being. Be nice. Make it at least 6-8 sentences so the person feels loved. Jacob W. you will write your introduction for Rebekah.

Jacob W.


2017 Final Exam Schedule

Here’s a list of all my final exam times and locations for the 2017 Spring semester. I also have these posted in the “Syllabus and Calendar” link on each course’s Blackboard shell. And in case you’re interested, here’s IVCC’s full exam schedule page.

Class Day & Time – Course Name  – Exam Day Time/Location

MWF 8:00 AM – ENG 0900 – Wed. May 10 regular time/place

MWF 9:00 AM – ENG 0900 – Mon. May 8, regular time/place

TR 8:00 AM – ENG 1002 – Thurs. May 11 regular time/place

TR 11:00 AM – Creative Writing – 11:00-1:30 p.m., Tues. May 9, Fireplace Lounge (B216)

Online – ENG 1002-590 Online – Research Essay due Wed. May 10 by 11:59 p.m.

Evening Creative Writing Workshop

Creative Writing Workshop. (4).png

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been given the “go-ahead” to teach an EVENING, blended creative writing workshop this fall, starting Aug. 16. An evening creative writing section hasn’t been offered in a while, and I’ve had a few people approach me about teaching it as a night class.

Blended Learning: often structured for students unable to attend traditional class times, blended classes are a blend of online and face-to-face learning.

What that means for this class is that we will meet once a week from 6:00-7:15 p.m. and the other half of the class will be hosted on IVCC’s learning management system, Blackboard–an easily navigable platform that allows for file exchange, online assignment submission, and online discussions.

I’m currently working on a syllabus so those interested have an idea of what the class will offer, but in the meantime, you can take a look at my spring 2017 syllabus and  calendar for an example of what the class covers; you can also check out my Creative Writing course page for an overview of assignments. I hope to see a lot of the community creative writers out there this fall!! Email or message me with any questions.

ENG 1003 Grading Criteria

Below is the grading criteria I use when assessing and grading formal prose writing assignments in my Creative Writing Course. Formal prose assignments include the Memoir, Crisis story, Dialogue piece, Reader Sympathy story, and Threaded Microfiction piece.

Formal Prose Assignment Rubric

Below is the grading criteria I use when assessing and grading formal poetry writing assignments in my Creative Writing Course. Formal poetry assignments assignments include the Object poem, Childhood poem, Photo or Confessional poem, Protest or Meditation poem, and a Misc. Poem.

Formal Poetry Assignment Rubric

Additionally, each formal prose and poetry assignment will be workshopped in small groups using this rubric:

Workshop Participation and Reflection Rubric