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A Punctuation Exercise
Based on “A Summer Shower” by Mary Frances Blaisdell

The Original Text

     Remember that the purpose of these exercises is not to have the students reproduce the exact original punctuation, but rather to fix the punctuation and then discuss their versions, the original, and the reasons for any differences.

      Then the water began to fall down on the ground at the foot of the tree. One

great big drop fell on Bunny’s nose. Then another fell on his ear. He waked up 

with a start.

     “What is the matter?” he said. “What is the matter?”

Complete Analysis Key

     Then the water began to fall [#1] down {on the ground} {at the foot} {of the tree}. |

One great [#2] big drop fell {on Bunny’s nose}. | Then another fell {on his ear}. | He

waked up {with a start}. |

     [DO [#3]What is the matter (PN)?”] he said. |What is the matter (PN)?” |

1. Alternatively, "to fall" is an infinitive that functions as the direct object of "began."
2. Because "great" modifies the adjective "big," it functions as an adverb.
3. This is the traditional explanation of this sentence, but KISS offers an alternative explanation. In it, the subordinate clause is the main clause, and the "he said" is a subordinate clause that functions as an interjection. Note that the traditional explanation does not take into account that the following "What is the matter?" is also "subordinate" to "he said."