Saturday, February 21, 2009

Because is not a conjunction!!

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I really tried to keep my mind on the sermon, but I was being distracted by other thoughts. Lunch plans? Nope. How to keep Grant quiet? Nope. Planning when I was going to get all my schoolwork done that day? Nope. The true answer will positively prove I am a nerd.................... It was the punctuation that was used in the Bible verses that were shown on the big screens. I tried to ignore it. I tried not to care. But, it seems you can take the English teacher away from the English book, but you can't take the English book out of the English teacher. I think that I should add on to that that I not only teach English, (have for nine years now - WOW! Makes me sound OLD!), but I also taught the 4th writing TAKS for three years which I think is the biggest factor for my pickyness (not sure how to spell that since it's not a real word) with the written language. I guess you could say writing and its mechanics are burned into my brain whether I want them to be or not (Did you catch on that I'm trying to make my dorkiness sound - well - understandable???). Sure, I still make careless mistakes in my writing (and I am still a horrible speller), but that is not the point here. The point here is: "Because" is NOT a coordinating conjunction! NEVER put a comma before the word "because". In the Bible verses that were viewed in church, "because" continually had commas before it, and it drove me BONKERS!! I think the writer was getting confused with which rule to follow. It can be confusing as "because" is a subordinating conjunction (Please don't make me list them. There are too many!!!) and not a coordinating conjunction (which are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). And, when used as the first word in a complex sentence, a comma IS placed between the dependent and independent clauses, but not when the subordinating conjunction is in the middle of the clauses.

For example, below is an instance when the dependent clause comes first, (the subordinating conjunction coming at the beginning is what makes the clause dependent) and therefore a comma is needed to separate the dependent and independent clause:
Because my dog makes horrible messes on the carpet, I am getting new flooring next week.

Now I will share an instance when the subordinating conjunction "because" is used in the middle of a complex sentence, and therefore a comma is not needed to separate the dependent and independent clauses. **Notice that the dependent clause comes at the end of the sentence instead of at the beginning as in the previous example:
I am getting new flooring next week because my dog makes horrible messes on the carpet.

Subordinating conjunctions should not be confused with coordinating conjunctions. There is a quick and easy rule to follow to make sure you are properly punctuating coordinating conjunctions: Cover up the conjunction in the middle of the sentence (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). If there is a complete sentence on BOTH sides of the conjunction, you need to put a comma BEFORE the conjunction.
Let's work with the example below:
I need new flooring and I need a maid.
If you cover up the "and" in the middle of the sentence, you will see that there is a complete thought on BOTH sides. Complete thought #1: I need new flooring. #2: I need a maid. Since these are both complete thoughts, a comma should be placed BEFORE the conjunction (and).
My correctly punctuated sentence should look like this:

I need new flooring, and I need a maid.

If there is not a complete sentence on both sides of the conjunction (and), you do not need to add a comma. For example:
I need new flooring and a maid.

Well, I feel better. Perhaps I can now let go of the mechanical errors I saw in church , and I can now be a more active listener during the lesson. Boy, the devil really knows how to get me, huh? ha ha Look out, Devil. I'm on to you now!! Wah-ah-ahhhhhhhhhhh!!


Rick J said...

Good explanation! The "former English teacher" in me actually woke up and paid attention. Perhaps those doing the ppt for Sunday should just copy and paste scriptures, thereby avoiding the enticement to insert that unnecessary comma. :-)

Rachel said...

Were the commas used incorrectly in the Bible, too...or just on the screen? If that's how they were in the Bible, maybe it's confusing because the Bible wasn't actually written in English?

Now I'm paranoid that I've screwed all my punctuation up...except for the elipses...I know I use way to many of them... :)

Kory Kilgore said...

Amanda I'm disappointed in you, because you should listen to the sermon. Because you need to set a good example for your children you need to make sure they see you actively listening. The best way to do this is to take notes, and to nod your head frequently. Also, please make sure to say Amen a lot and make sure to talk about the message after church. Allow time for your kids to ask questions but don't give them all of the answers. They should look up things for themselves, because that is the best way to learn.

What's the matter? Did I do something wrong?

Amanda Brooke Kilgore said...

Oh, Kory, you know how to push my buttons!!

Anonymous said...

I was searching the web through google to see if "because" is a conjunction and I found your page.
I know I'm just a random person, but I thought you ought to know that "pickyness" is a word. It's spelled "pickiness" and it means: to fuss, concern, or to focus on detail.