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A Punctuation Exercise
Based on “How Johnny Cricket Saw Santa Claus”
From FRIENDLY FAIRIES, Written & Illustrated by Johnny Gruelle

The original text is:

     Mamma Cricket called Papa and they both had a laugh when Johnny told how startled he had been at the old man with the white whiskers who filled the stockings in front of the fireplace. “Why, Johnny!” said Mamma and Papa Cricket. “Don’t you know? That was Santa Claus. We have watched him every Christmas in the last four years fill the stockings, and he saw your little red topped boots and filled them with candy, too. If you will crawl through the crack into the fireplace you will see the children of the people who own this big house playing with all the presents that Santa Claus left them!”

Remember that the purpose of these exercises is to have students think about and discuss punctuation. There are several places in which students will punctuate correctly, but not match the original. 


Complete Analysis Key [FYI]

     Mamma Cricket called Papa (DO) | and they both had a laugh (DO) [Adv.

to "had" when Johnny told [DO how startled (PA) he had been {at the old man}

{with the white whiskers} [Adj. to "man" who filled the stockings (DO) {in front} {of 

the fireplace}]]]. | “Why, Johnny!” (DO) [#1] said Mamma and Papa Cricket. | 

Don’t you know? | That was Santa Claus (PN). | We have watched him 

(DO) every Christmas [NuA] {in the last four years} [#2] fill the stockings [#3], | and he 

saw your little red topped boots (DO) and filled them (DO) {with candy}, too. | 

[Adv. to "will see" If you will crawl {through the crack} {into the fireplace}] [#4] you will

see the children (DO) {of the people} [Adj. to "people" who own this big house (DO)]

playing [#5] {with all the presents} [Adj. to "presents" that Santa Claus left them 

(IO)]!” |


Notes
1. Note that this direct object is composed of an interjection ("Why") and Direct Address ("Johnny!") Note also that the rest of the passage is, in terms of meaning, the direct object of "said." (Grammar textbooks rarely, if ever, get to sentences like this.)
2. The phrase "in the last four years" can be explained as an adverb to "every," as an adjective to "Christmas," and/or as an adverb to "fill." In other words, readers will make the connection in different ways, but the important point is that the phrase does connect.
3. "Stocking" is the direct object of the verbal (infinitive) "fill." When they focus on verbals, students will learn that the infinitive phrase, from "him" to "stockings" functions as the direct object of "watched."
4. Most textbooks claim that an initial subordinate clause should be set off by a comma. That is not always true, but this one is long enough that most current writers would probably put a comma here.
5. "Playing" is a verbal (a gerundive) that modifies "children." When they add noun absolutes to their analytical toolbox, some students will prefer to see the entire "children ... playing..." construction as a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "will see."