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Commas with Transition Words

commas with transition words

Two weeks ago, we talked about comma splices—errors that happen when you join two main clauses with just a comma--but you can make the same kind of mistake if you aren’t careful when joining two main clauses with conjunctive adverbs such as however, therefore, furthermore, and nevertheless.

Two Main Clauses

Remember, a main clause, also known as an independent clause, is just something that could be a complete sentence if it were all by itself. If you’re joining two main clauses with a conjunctive adverb, you need a semicolon before that adverb, and a comma after. That adverb needs to be snuggled between a semicolon and a comma.

Think about this example. Imagine I’m worried about a library book that is due tomorrow:

I’m not finished reading it; moreover, I left it at Steve’s house.

I’m not finished reading it is a main clause, and I left it at Steve’s house is a main clause, so I need a semicolon before moreover and a comma after it. 

Or, in the same way you can fix a comma splice with a period, I could also separate the two main clauses with a period:

I’m not finished reading it. Moreover, I left it at Steve’s house.

And now this is where it gets tricky because sometimes conjunctive adverbs come in the middle of your sentence and aren’t followed by a main clause, and then you can just sandwich them between two commas. Here are some examples of sentences like that:

I’ll wager, moreover, that the library won’t cut me any slack on the fine. 

Fines are, however, an important tool the library uses to get people to return books on time.

In both those sentence, the part after the adverb isn’t a main clause, so I just used a comma before and after the words moreover and however


Semicolons with Transition Words

The same rules apply to transition words and phrases such as for example, in other words, and on the other hand,

If you’re joining two main clauses, you use a semicolon and comma just like you did before, but if the part after the transition isn’t a main clause, then you use two commas.

First think about this example:

I might be able to get it back in time; for example, I could ask Steve to bring it by before work.

I might be able to get it back in time is a main clause, and so is I could ask Steve to bring it by before work, so I snuggle for example between a semicolon and a comma.

Commas with Transition Words

Now think about this example:

I could ask Steve to bring it by, for example, before work or during his lunch hour.

Now the part after for example is just a couple of prepositional phrases, not a main clause, so you don’t need a semicolon. You just use two commas--one before for example and one after. 

It all depends on whether the part that comes after the transition is a main clause or not, and it’s easy to get distracted, but just remember with a main clause after your transition word, you need a semicolon before and a comma after, and without a main clause, you can get away with two commas.

Exercises

Here are some practice sentence. Fill in the right punctuation:

  1. You need to help with the housework furthermore I need a vacation.
  2. Bring Squiggly something he’ll like for example chocolate mousse or cheesecake.
  3. This test will make up 50 percent of your grade therefore it’s important that you study.
  4. We will therefore double our practice schedule.
  5. You have cleaning responsibilities in this house namely your bathroom and your bedroom.
  6. Jimmy threw a rock at the beehive consequently all the kids got stung.
  7. Aardvark is however the best fisherman on the bass circuit.
  8. Mandy practices piano all day similarly you can’t tear Brandon away from his violin.
  9. I cooked Sammy’s favorite dinner nevertheless he wouldn’t come out of his room.
  10. Not enough players showed up in other words they had to forfeit the game.

Rakesh Satyal

“That’s the beauty of fiction...you can tell a really specific story and it has a way of connecting with people. And they can continue telling that story to other people.” Editor and author Rakesh Satyal speaks about his writing process and new novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name (Picador, 2017), on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

Rakesh Satyal

“That’s the beauty of fiction...you can tell a really specific story and it has a way of connecting with people. And they can continue telling that story to other people.” Editor and author Rakesh Satyal speaks about his writing process and new novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name (Picador, 2017), on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

Rakesh Satyal

“That’s the beauty of fiction...you can tell a really specific story and it has a way of connecting with people. And they can continue telling that story to other people.” Editor and author Rakesh Satyal speaks about his writing process and new novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name (Picador, 2017), on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

7 Ways Travel Can Enhance Your Writing

I'm definitely a travel junkie, and I spend nearly all my money on traveling or books. In fact, when I was miserable in my day job back in 2006, trying to decide what to do with my life, I wrote down the two things I enjoyed most in the world: travel and reading. What job would enable me to combine both of these?

Becoming a full-time author entrepreneur has enabled me to travel more, but also to bring my experiences around the world into my fiction. Many of the scenes in my thrillers are born out of places I have been and things I've seen along the way. I plan my travels around stories I want to write, and wherever I go, I find inspiration for writing.

Of course, that could be walking along my local canal path, or the cultural milieu of London, just as much as Varanasi in India, or exploring ancient tombs in Egypt. You can also travel virtually now via Google Maps, Pinterest, YouTube or blogs.

So I'm thrilled to bring J.H. Moncrieff‘s article to you today on how travel can enhance your writing.

Authors who travel need never fear writer’s block.

Every place I’ve explored has given me fresh ideas for settings, characters, plots, and themes. From the creepy, bricked-up house in the Caribbean which had two life-sized ragdolls slumped on its porch, to the notorious forest in Romania that made me ill, the experiences I’ve gleaned while traveling often find their way into my books.

Traveling…

demon foot1. Increases your story bank. Once you’ve lived in a city for some time, you’re probably familiar with its dark secrets and concealed corners. When you travel, the world opens up.

Who knows what museum visit or bit of history will inspire a new novel?

2. Adds authenticity. When you read a novel set in a country where the author has spent some time, you can instantly tell. There’s a realness to the story that you just can’t get from studying Google Earth and reading Wikipedia articles.

3. Expands your readership. Readers love to see themselves in books, and will flock to support authors who set stories in their hometowns. This can result in all sorts of exciting opportunities. After I spent some time in Transylvania, a Romanian publisher contacted me about having my novels released there.

Ghost City, China4. Provides endless inspiration. You never know when a great idea will hit. When I visited Fengdu, a Chinese ghost city, it was a dark and stormy day. I'd come down with a bad cold during a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River, and the last thing I wanted was to wander around in the downpour, sniffling and sneezing, while other tourists whacked me in the head with their umbrellas. But I did want to write about China, a country I'd fallen madly in love with, so I joined the tour despite my misgivings.

It was easy to see how spooky Fengdu would be at night, once the tourists went home. This got me thinking…what if someone got trapped in the ghost city overnight? What if they wanted to get trapped there?

5. Deepens your themes. Say you write about vampires. There are villages in Romania where people are still very much afraid of them—but why? Exploring their traditions and learning about these beliefs can help you add a new dimension to your work. The same applies to almost any subject you can think of.

6. Broadens your network. Writing is isolating work, and traveling forces you to get out of your own head and meet new people. Attending a writers’ workshop or retreat in a foreign country or different state is a great place to start. You’ll make new writer friends while experiencing all the other benefits of travel.

7. Takes your readers on a journey. One of the most common regrets people have is not traveling more. By featuring exotic settings, people, and cultures in your stories and making them authentic, you’ll give your readers a glimpse into another world without their having to leave home.

Each story is a chance to take them somewhere new.

What if you’re not independently wealthy? Good news: it isn’t as expensive to travel as you might think. Over the past few years, I’ve visited Curaçao, China, Egypt, Cuba, Hawaii, Greece, Italy, and Romania…on a freelancer’s salary.

The trick is setting priorities.

Decide where you want to go and what you’d like to see. Give yourself a deadline and figure out how much you need to save.

Authors visit the museum of death, New Orleans, 2017

Authors, including Joanna Penn, in New Orleans, 2017

Always budget for a bit more than you think you’ll need. You’ll probably have to sacrifice a few things. (I don’t have a cell phone or a car, which some people think is crazy. I think it’s totally worth it to be able to travel more often.)

Is there anything you can do to earn extra money on the side?

I increased my travel budget by taking on more freelance journalism, editing, and publicity work, and by selling items I no longer need. Goodbye, stiletto heels!

If traveling isn’t in the cards for you right now, try playing tourist at home. There must be some neighborhoods you haven’t explored, or a new restaurant you haven’t tried. Can you join a meet-up group to connect with new people?

Adventure isn’t location dependent. Whatever gets the inspiration flowing counts.

Does travel inspire your writing? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

JH MoncrieffJ.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely explore the dark corners of the world. She won Harlequin's search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016. The first two novels of her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, will be officially released on May 16, 2017.

When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class. To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.

7 Ways Travel Can Enhance Your Writing

I'm definitely a travel junkie, and I spend nearly all my money on traveling or books. In fact, when I was miserable in my day job back in 2006, trying to decide what to do with my life, I wrote down the two things I enjoyed most in the world: travel and reading. What job would enable me to combine both of these?

Becoming a full-time author entrepreneur has enabled me to travel more, but also to bring my experiences around the world into my fiction. Many of the scenes in my thrillers are born out of places I have been and things I've seen along the way. I plan my travels around stories I want to write, and wherever I go, I find inspiration for writing.

Of course, that could be walking along my local canal path, or the cultural milieu of London, just as much as Varanasi in India, or exploring ancient tombs in Egypt. You can also travel virtually now via Google Maps, Pinterest, YouTube or blogs.

So I'm thrilled to bring J.H. Moncrieff‘s article to you today on how travel can enhance your writing.

Authors who travel need never fear writer’s block.

Every place I’ve explored has given me fresh ideas for settings, characters, plots, and themes. From the creepy, bricked-up house in the Caribbean which had two life-sized ragdolls slumped on its porch, to the notorious forest in Romania that made me ill, the experiences I’ve gleaned while traveling often find their way into my books.

Traveling…

demon foot1. Increases your story bank. Once you’ve lived in a city for some time, you’re probably familiar with its dark secrets and concealed corners. When you travel, the world opens up.

Who knows what museum visit or bit of history will inspire a new novel?

2. Adds authenticity. When you read a novel set in a country where the author has spent some time, you can instantly tell. There’s a realness to the story that you just can’t get from studying Google Earth and reading Wikipedia articles.

3. Expands your readership. Readers love to see themselves in books, and will flock to support authors who set stories in their hometowns. This can result in all sorts of exciting opportunities. After I spent some time in Transylvania, a Romanian publisher contacted me about having my novels released there.

Ghost City, China4. Provides endless inspiration. You never know when a great idea will hit. When I visited Fengdu, a Chinese ghost city, it was a dark and stormy day. I'd come down with a bad cold during a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River, and the last thing I wanted was to wander around in the downpour, sniffling and sneezing, while other tourists whacked me in the head with their umbrellas. But I did want to write about China, a country I'd fallen madly in love with, so I joined the tour despite my misgivings.

It was easy to see how spooky Fengdu would be at night, once the tourists went home. This got me thinking…what if someone got trapped in the ghost city overnight? What if they wanted to get trapped there?

5. Deepens your themes. Say you write about vampires. There are villages in Romania where people are still very much afraid of them—but why? Exploring their traditions and learning about these beliefs can help you add a new dimension to your work. The same applies to almost any subject you can think of.

6. Broadens your network. Writing is isolating work, and traveling forces you to get out of your own head and meet new people. Attending a writers’ workshop or retreat in a foreign country or different state is a great place to start. You’ll make new writer friends while experiencing all the other benefits of travel.

7. Takes your readers on a journey. One of the most common regrets people have is not traveling more. By featuring exotic settings, people, and cultures in your stories and making them authentic, you’ll give your readers a glimpse into another world without their having to leave home.

Each story is a chance to take them somewhere new.

What if you’re not independently wealthy? Good news: it isn’t as expensive to travel as you might think. Over the past few years, I’ve visited Curaçao, China, Egypt, Cuba, Hawaii, Greece, Italy, and Romania…on a freelancer’s salary.

The trick is setting priorities.

Decide where you want to go and what you’d like to see. Give yourself a deadline and figure out how much you need to save.

Authors visit the museum of death, New Orleans, 2017

Authors, including Joanna Penn, in New Orleans, 2017

Always budget for a bit more than you think you’ll need. You’ll probably have to sacrifice a few things. (I don’t have a cell phone or a car, which some people think is crazy. I think it’s totally worth it to be able to travel more often.)

Is there anything you can do to earn extra money on the side?

I increased my travel budget by taking on more freelance journalism, editing, and publicity work, and by selling items I no longer need. Goodbye, stiletto heels!

If traveling isn’t in the cards for you right now, try playing tourist at home. There must be some neighborhoods you haven’t explored, or a new restaurant you haven’t tried. Can you join a meet-up group to connect with new people?

Adventure isn’t location dependent. Whatever gets the inspiration flowing counts.

Does travel inspire your writing? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

JH MoncrieffJ.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely explore the dark corners of the world. She won Harlequin's search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016. The first two novels of her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, will be officially released on May 16, 2017.

When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class. To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.

Chen Chen

“I love writing that allows for many things to happen at once—writing that involves multiple collisions of multiplying constellations while a cruise ship full of handsome hearts comes pounding through. So, my recommendation is to (re)watch The Magic School Bus and then watch the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, keeping in mind and heart that Lily Tomlin is the voice of Ms. Frizzle. And that the full name of Ms. Frizzle’s iconic pet lizard, Liz, is Elizabeth Savannah Frizzle. One day I will write about all of this, but maybe you’ll beat me to it. I also recommend Kazumi Chin’s book Having a Coke With Godzilla (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), which brings into magnificent conversation Ariana Grande, Sailor Moon, the struggle against white supremacist cishet patriarchy, and yes, Godzilla. While I’m at it, I have to recommend Chloe Honum’s chapbook Then Winter (Bull City Press, 2017), which works to destigmatize mental illness and sings a love song for snowy days in Massachusetts. I accidentally left Honum’s chapbook (after she signed it for me at a reading!) on a Greyhound bus, but I’m hoping someone else will pick it up and love it so that I can say I did it on purpose (after writing this, though, I’ll be writing to the author to ask for another signed copy). My last recommendation is to find a tree. A tree with many, many branches, underneath or within which you allow yourself to daydream and nightsing.”
—Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017) 

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Jess Chen

Chen Chen

“I love writing that allows for many things to happen at once—writing that involves multiple collisions of multiplying constellations while a cruise ship full of handsome hearts comes pounding through. So, my recommendation is to (re)watch The Magic School Bus and then watch the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, keeping in mind and heart that Lily Tomlin is the voice of Ms. Frizzle. And that the full name of Ms. Frizzle’s iconic pet lizard, Liz, is Elizabeth Savannah Frizzle. One day I will write about all of this, but maybe you’ll beat me to it. I also recommend Kazumi Chin’s book Having a Coke With Godzilla (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), which brings into magnificent conversation Ariana Grande, Sailor Moon, the struggle against white supremacist cishet patriarchy, and yes, Godzilla. While I’m at it, I have to recommend Chloe Honum’s chapbook Then Winter (Bull City Press, 2017), which works to destigmatize mental illness and sings a love song for snowy days in Massachusetts. I accidentally left Honum’s chapbook (after she signed it for me at a reading!) on a Greyhound bus, but I’m hoping someone else will pick it up and love it so that I can say I did it on purpose (after writing this, though, I’ll be writing to the author to ask for another signed copy). My last recommendation is to find a tree. A tree with many, many branches, underneath or within which you allow yourself to daydream and nightsing.”
—Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017) 

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Jess Chen

Chen Chen

“I love writing that allows for many things to happen at once—writing that involves multiple collisions of multiplying constellations while a cruise ship full of handsome hearts comes pounding through. So, my recommendation is to (re)watch The Magic School Bus and then watch the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, keeping in mind and heart that Lily Tomlin is the voice of Ms. Frizzle. And that the full name of Ms. Frizzle’s iconic pet lizard, Liz, is Elizabeth Savannah Frizzle. One day I will write about all of this, but maybe you’ll beat me to it. I also recommend Kazumi Chin’s book Having a Coke With Godzilla (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), which brings into magnificent conversation Ariana Grande, Sailor Moon, the struggle against white supremacist cishet patriarchy, and yes, Godzilla. While I’m at it, I have to recommend Chloe Honum’s chapbook Then Winter (Bull City Press, 2017), which works to destigmatize mental illness and sings a love song for snowy days in Massachusetts. I accidentally left Honum’s chapbook (after she signed it for me at a reading!) on a Greyhound bus, but I’m hoping someone else will pick it up and love it so that I can say I did it on purpose (after writing this, though, I’ll be writing to the author to ask for another signed copy). My last recommendation is to find a tree. A tree with many, many branches, underneath or within which you allow yourself to daydream and nightsing.”
—Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017) 

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Jess Chen

Camille T. Dungy

“What you can do is tell your best story, at that moment.” Camille T. Dungy, whose first essay collection, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood, and History (Norton, 2017), is featured in Page One in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, offers writers advice on how to overcome roadblocks. 

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