Short Summary (TL;DR)
1. The Pause
Commas, commas, commas. They often are a source of confusion. How do you use without getting lost in grammatical jargon? Thanks to Patricia T. O’Conner's book on grammar, Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, commas can easily be understood. We let her tell you about them in her own words:
"When you talk, your voice, with its pauses, stresses, rises and falls, shows how you intend your words to fit together. When you write, punctuation marks are the road signs (stop, go, yield, slow, detour) that guide the reader, and you wouldn’t be understood without them.
"If you don’t believe me, try making sense out of this pile of words:
Who do you think I saw the other day the Dalai Lama said my Aunt Minnie.
"There are at least two possibilities:
"Who do you think I saw the other day?" the Dalai Lama said. "My Aunt Minnie."
"Who do you think I saw the other day? The Dalai Lama!" said my Aunt Minnie."
"Punctuation isn’t some subtle, old-fashioned concept that’s hard to manage and probably won’t make much of a difference one way or another. It’s not subtle, it’s not difficult and it can make all the difference in the world.
2. Separate the Parts of Speech
If you get commas right, you will get most of your punctuation right. How do we use them?
Long and short division
Use a comma to separate big chunks (clauses) of a sentence with and between them.
If there’s no 'and' in between, use a semi-colon instead:
Use commas to separate a series of things or actions.
In a series, you can leave out the comma before "and". It’s just a matter of taste. 'And' can also be thought of as a separator, a break, so a comma often is unnecessary.
3. Comma with Subjects and their Verbs
With few exceptions, a comma should not separate a subject from its verb.
Incorrect: My friend Amanda, is a wonderful dancer.
Writers are often tempted to insert a comma between a subject and verb this way because speakers sometimes pause at that point in a sentence. But in writing, the comma only makes the sentence seem stilted.
Correct: My friend Amanda is a wonderful singer.
Be especially careful with long or complex subjects:
Incorrect: The things that cause me joy, may also cause me pain.
Correct: The things that cause me joy may also cause me pain.
Incorrect: Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness, is a miserable way to travel.
Correct: Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness is a miserable way to travel.
4. Comma After Introductions
Introductory clauses are dependent clauses that provide background information or "set the stage" for the main part of the sentence, the independent clause. For example:
Introductory phrases also set the stage for the main action of the sentence, but they are not complete clauses. Phrases don't have both a subject and a verb that are separate from the subject and verb in the main clause of the sentence. Common introductory phrases include prepositional phrases, appositive phrases, participial phrases, infinitive phrases, and absolute phrases.
Introductory words (SHFM)
Introductory words like however, still, furthermore, and meanwhile create continuity from one sentence to the next.
Each sentence below has one or two blanks. Each blank indicates that something is missing. Select the word or set of words that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
1. Due to the strong odor of onions ____________ through the kitchen, Jason suddenly found himself with tears in his eyes.
2. An _____________ test taker, Theo studied hard and seemed to have a knack for always selecting the correct answer.
3. Unwilling to compromise his ____________, Howard quit the disreputable corporation and started his own consulting firm.
4. Praised as an ______________ biographer, Ana's faithful ________________ left her readers feeling as though they knew the historic figures she wrote of.
(A) awkward ... descriptions
(B) esteemed ... countenances
(C) errant ... portrayals
(D) eloquent ... characterizations
Carter was on a diet. When he weighed himself as the start of his diet, he weighed 220 pounds. At the end of 6 months, Carter weighed 180 pounds. What fraction of his original weight did he lose?
A department store marks up its clothing 80% over cost. If it sells blue jeans for $14, how much did the store pay for them?
The ratio of teachers to students in a certain school is 1:14. If there are fourteen teachers in the school, how many students are there?
On Monday, Gerri ate 1/4 of an apple pie. On Tuesday, she 1/2 of what was left of the pie. What fraction of the entire pie did Gerri eat on both days?
Complete the following sentences. (ISEE Upper Level.)
1. We seldom fell __________ when we are allowed to speak freely, but any ___________ of our free speech brings anger.
A) angry .. defense
B) blessed .. restriction
C) scholarly .. understanding
D) enslaved .. misuse
2. Since movies have become more _________, many people believe television to be ____________.
A) helpful .. utilitarian
B) expensive .. necessary
C) common .. inadequate
D) costly .. useless
3. Because of his ________ nature, he often acts purely on impulse.
Complete the following sentences.
1. The statement "You're only young once" is a(n) ______.
2. Could you supply some examples to _______ your argument?
3. I fear the discipline in that household is so _______ that the children will grow up without character.
4. Caring for younger siblings an be a(n) _______ responsibility for the child of a(n) __________.
A) onerous .. alcoholic
B) preordained .. acrobat
C) negligible .. supplicant
D) appreciable .. parent
Malcolm and Dwayne start off running around the track at the same time. If Malcolm can run around the track in 5 minutes and Dwayne can cover the same distance in 3 minutes, when will they again meet at the start of the track?
A) 12 minutes
B) 16 minutes
C) 15 minutes
D) 18 minutes
E) 13 minutes
Choose the word that means the same or most nearly the same as the capitalized word.
Choose the one word or pair of words that will best complete the meaning of the sentences as a whole.
1. Undaunted by his many setbacks, Joshua __________.
(B) drew back
2. Knowledge gained from books without the benefit of practical experience is usually not so profitable in everyday work as the opposite, _______________ without ______________.
(A) culture .. manners
(B) experiments .. science
(C) experience .. scholarship
(D) learning .. knowing
3. Some colleges, rather than _________ students to take arts courses, simply force them.
1. John flies 2,880 miles in 9 hours. What is the average speed of his airplane?
a. 285 miles/hour
b. 315 miles/hour
c. 320 miles/hour
d. 340 miles/hour
2. Sarah spent one-fifth of her life in school. If she is now 55, how many years did she spend in school?
3. Order from least to greatest:
Find the relationships between words in the following questions. Select the choice that best completes the meaning of the sentence.
1. Scissors is to cut as pencil is to
2. Pasta is to sauce as
(A) noodle is to dough.
(B) tomato is to vine.
(C) napkin is to plate.
(D) toast is to jam.
(E) cheese is to milk.
3. Bread is to crust as orange is to
4. Team is to captain as
(A) sport is to player.
(B) paper is to reporter.
(C) republic is to president.
(D) game is to opponent.
(E) navy is to ensign.
Upper Level ISEE:
A fair six-sided die is rolled twice. What is the probability that the first roll produces a 2 and the second roll does NOT produce a 4?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.