Activities to Teach Students to Use Commas With Introductory Elements

Commas are a fundamental aspect of writing, and they play a significant role in making written work comprehensible and organized. One of the critical functions of commas is to separate introductory elements from the rest of the sentence. These elements, which may include prepositional phrases, subordinate clauses, and transitional expressions, help provide context and set the tone of the sentence. However, many students struggle with using commas correctly in these instances, which can lead to awkward and confusing writing. In this article, we will discuss some effective activities to help students learn how to use commas with introductory elements.

1. Substitution Exercise:

In this exercise, students will practice identifying introductory elements and inserting commas correctly. The teacher can provide sentences with missing commas and ask the students to identify the introductory element and add a comma in the correct position. The teacher can then provide a substitute introductory element, and students must again insert a comma in the correct position. For example, the teacher may provide a sentence like “After class I will go to the mall.” The teacher can then ask the students to identify “After class” as the introductory element and insert the comma: “After class, I will go to the mall.” The teacher can then provide a substitute introductory element like “In the morning,” and the students must again insert the comma: “In the morning, I will go to the mall.”

2. Sentence Sorting Exercise:

In this exercise, students will be given several sentences with introductory elements that are either correctly or incorrectly punctuated. Students must sort the sentences into two piles: “Correctly Punctuated” and “Incorrectly Punctuated.” After sorting the sentences, the students can discuss the reasoning behind their choices, correcting any incorrect sentences as a group. This exercise will help students identify the different types of introductory elements and understand how commas are used to separate them from the main part of the sentence.

3. Writing Exercise:

In this exercise, students will be asked to write several sentences containing introductory elements and correctly punctuate them with commas. The teacher can provide a list of introductory elements, such as “After,” “Before,” “In addition,” “Furthermore,” etc., and ask the students to use them in their sentences. The teacher can then review the sentences, providing feedback and correcting any incorrect punctuation. This exercise will help students practice using commas correctly in a variety of sentence structures and contexts.

Overall, teaching students to use commas with introductory elements is vital for their writing skills. These activities will help students understand how commas are used to separate introductory elements from the main parts of the sentence and enable them to write more coherent and concise narratives. As with any aspect of writing, regular practice is necessary to develop a strong comma placement skillset. Therefore, these exercises can be implemented regularly to reinforce the concepts and improve the students’ writing proficiency.    

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