Feb. 10, 2013
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KISS Level 3.1.1. Compound Main Clauses

Introduction to KISS Level Three
Notes for Teachers
Exercises in KISS Level 3.1.1
For additional exercises, see: Level 6.1 Punctuation
Introduction to KISS Level Three

     Perhaps the easiest way to introduce the concept of “clause” is to begin with compound main clauses. Thus far, students have been focusing on S/V/C patterns and “sentences.” What is the difference between a “sentence” and a “clause”? A “sentence” ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point; a “clause” is an S/V/C pattern and all the words that chunk to (modify) it. Simple compound main clauses give us a large supply of examples from which the students can very easily see the difference. In analyzing sentences in the KISS Approach, we put a vertical line at the end of each main clause.

1. Once they heard a door bang. | Somebody scuttered downstairs. |
2. Once they heard a door bang, | and somebody scuttered downstairs.|
The first example presents two separate sentences. The second has two main clauses all within one sentence.
     There are two (and only two) primary types of clauses. KISS uses the terms "main" and "subordinate." One of the primary problems in the teaching of grammar is that different textbooks use different names (usually "independent" and "dependent"), and they use these names inconsistently. (For more on this, see "Some Differences between KISS and Traditional Terms," in the Background Essays for KISS Grammar.) Subordinate clauses primarily function as nouns, adjectives or adverbs within a main clause.

     Your first objective should be to enable students to identify the main clause “breaks.” From this point on, whenever they are doing analysis exercises, they should always put a vertical line at the end of every main clause. (Remember that the main clause is the fundamental unit of by which we process language. According to our KISS psycholinguistic model, our brains chunk all the words in a sentence together, in short-term memory (STM), until we get to a main clause break. At that point, we dump the main clause into long-term-memory (LTM), and clear STM for the next main clause.
     Once students can identify main clauses fairly easily, you really should turn to the logic and punctuation of them. Many of the punctuation errors that students make involve main clause boundaries. The students sense that two “sentences” belong together, but the students have probably not been taught how to use a colon, semicolon, or dash to punctuate them, as professional writers would. 
     The standards for using colons, semicolons, and dashes to separate main clauses are norms, not commandments. Many teachers have reported being taught to use a semicolon to separate contrasting ideas, whereas a colon or dash “should” be used to separate main clauses when the second adds more detailed information to the first. My experience suggests that these norms are followed approximately 60% of the time for semicolons, but 90% of the time for colons and dashes. In the other cases, you may simply find semicolons separating parallel ideas or sentences that do not seem to have this same/different logical connection. In many cases, one has to stand back and look at the general logic of the writer’s text. In many KISS punctuation exercises, students are simply asked to analyze the text, examine the logic, and then discuss it. Although not all writers follow the norm, it is important for students to understand it, for two reasons. First, it will help solve the problems posed by some of their own punctuation errors; and second, it will help them understand the logic in the texts of writers who do follow the norm.

The Sub-levels in KISS Level 3

     As always in KISS, students study the most commonly occurring  constructions first. KISS Level 3.1.1 should give students an excellent command of compounded main clauses. Level 3.1.2 introduces the most commonly occurring subordinate clauses -- those that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. In KISS Level 3.1.3, students are introduced to (and taught how to untangle) embedded clauses (clauses within clauses within clauses). I am unaware of any textbooks that even discuss this question, and my college students have regularly been surprised to learn that there can be subordinate clauses within subordinate clauses. But consider the following sentence from the children's book Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, by Betty MacDonald. (In KISS, we put brackets around subordinate clauses.)

Mrs. Jones looked at him suspiciously | but he widened his large blue eyes | and -- [as he was only eight years old, a little small for his age and seemed even smaller in ten-year-old Jan's pajamas, [which he had swiped the night before [because he had forgotten [that he had stuffed his own in the window seat [when he was cleaning up his half of the room]]]]] -- Mrs. Jones convinced herself [that he wasn't fooling] and let him go out to play. |
That sentence contains three main clauses and six subordinate clauses. And note the five closing brackets after "room." Those subordinate clauses are stacked five deep. And by the time they have mastered KISS Level 3.1.3, students should be able to identify every one of them!

     You may have wondered why,  Level 3 has been divided into two printable books. The assumption is that each printable book includes approximately a year's worth of study. Currently, many English teachers cannot identify the basic clauses in sentences, and clauses, as noted above, are probably the most important grammatical construction that students need to master. (Note that I wrote "master" and not "be taught." Learning the definitions and types of subordinate clauses is fairly easy. Developing the ability to identify them in any sentence takes time and practice, especially if you want to include the exercises on punctuation, style and logic.) 

     Once students have mastered the basics of clauses, KISS Level 3.2 deals with the most frequent "complications." For example, Level 3.2.1 deals with ellipsis in clauses and with semi-reduced clauses, something that you will probably not find in most grammar textbooks. Consider the sentence, "When home, he is a very good father." Thoughtful students who have mastered KISS Level 3.1 will probably see on their own that the sentence means "When *he is* home, he is . . . ." Other students, however, will benefit by exercises that focus on this type of ellipsis. Other sections of KISS Level 3.2 explain KISS definitions of terms. Some grammars, for example, claim that "for" is a coordinating conjunction and some claim that it is subordinating. KISS Level 3.2.2 explains why in KISS, both "so" and "for" can be explained as either coordinating or subordinating conjunctions, depending on how and where they are used.
     Although KISS Level 3.2 will enable students to explain about 99% of the clauses they run across in randomly selected texts, there are some functions of clauses that are not covered here for the simple reason that they function as constructions that are introduced in KISS Level Five (such as Delayed Subjects and Appositives). When students get to these constructions, they should have little, if any, trouble in understanding the functions of these clauses.
Notes for Teachers
KISS Level 3.1.1

     Section 3.1.1 consists of five types of exercises, all based on compound main clauses (with few, if any, subordinate clauses). The objective of the first type (four exercises) is to have students identify the main clauses in compound sentences. The following type (two exercises) focuses on the logic and punctuation of main clauses. The third (a single exercise) asks students to combine sentences to create compound main clauses. The fourth is a treasure hunt, and the fifth asks students to write compound sentences by using a dash, colon, or semicolon.

Suggested Directions for Analytical Exercises
1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase. 
2. Underline finite verbs twice, their subjects once, and label complements ("PA," "PN," "IO," or "DO"). 
3. Place a vertical line after each main clause. 

Probable Time Required: Nine exercises
Exercises in KISS Level 3.1.1
Instructional Material: Main Clauses

Exercises 1 (a - d) Identification
     The first four exercises in each book focus simply on identifying main clauses. The exercises desiganted as "G3" were developed before the new, more systematic  format of the KISS complete books. You may, however, want to try to use them to see how well third graders can grasp the basic concept.
From Smythe's Old-Time Stories # 1 AK ToC IG3
From Smythe's Old-Time Stories # 2 AK ToC IG3
Ex # 10 from The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies Text AK ToC -
Ex # 11 from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck Text AK ToC -
Ex # 17 from The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan Text AK ToC -
Ex # 19 from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers Text AK ToC -
Ex # 1 from J Gruelle's “The Three Little Gnomes” Text AK ToC -
Ex # 2 from J. Gruelle's  “The Three Little Gnomes” " AK " -
Ex # 3 from J. Gruelle's  “The Three Little Gnomes” " AK " -
From "Why the Cat always Falls upon her Feet"  Text AK ToC G4
"The Birds of Killingworth" Text AK ToC G4
From the Writing of Fourth Graders AK ToC G4
From"The Three Tasks," from Grimm Text AK ToC G4
From A. Lang's  "Thumbelina" Ex # 6 Text AK  ToC -
From A. Lang's  "Thumbelina" Ex # 7 " AK " -
From "Jack and His Golden Box" Text AK ToC G5
From Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children, by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Ex # 1 - Compounds with "and," "or," or "but" (5S) AK ToC -
Ex # 2 - Compounds with "and," "or," or "but" (5S) AK " -
Ex # 3 - Compounds with "and," "or," or "but" (5S) AK " G5
Ex # 4 - Compounds with Semicolons or Colons (5S) AK " G5
Ex # 5 - Multiple Main Clauses (5S) AK " G5
From the Writing of Sixth Graders AK ToC G6
From Lang's "Brave Walter " Text AK ToC G6
From Hans Andersen's "The Snow Queen" Ex # 1 AK ToC G6
From Hans Andersen's "The Snow Queen" Ex # 2 AK ToC G6; 1YM
Sherwood Anderson's "The Egg" Ex # 1 Text AK ToC -
Sherwood Anderson's "The Egg" Ex # 2 " AK " G8
Sherwood Anderson's "The Egg" Ex # 3 " AK " G8
Sherwood Anderson's "The Egg" Ex # 4 " AK " -
From A Dog of Flanders by Ouida Ex # 1 AK ToC G9
From A Dog of Flanders by Ouida Ex # 2 AK " "
From A Dog of Flanders by Ouida Ex # 3 (Passage) AK "
From A Dog of Flanders by Ouida Ex # 4 AK " -
From A Dog of Flanders by Ouida Ex # 5 AK " G9
From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (#1) AK ToC G9
From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (#2) AK ToC G9; 1YM
Exercises 2 (a and b)
The Punctuation and Logic of Main Clauses
[Instructional Material]
     There is a  fundamental question that should be asked -- and rarely, if ever is. Why do we compound main clauses in the first place? Perhaps every other type of compounding makes sense in that it saves words. For example, "Bill and Bob went to the store." The compound subject is much shorter than "Bill went to the store. And Bob went to the store." Compounding main clauses, however, sometimes makes sentences longer-- "Bill went to the store, and he saw Sally." In cases like this, we might say that the repetition of the subject emphasizes it, but that explanation will not apply to compounds such as "Bill went fishing, and Bob went golfing."
     Although some people may consider this a silly question, it may be very important if we are interested in the logic and texture of written words. What is the logic behind combining some main clauses with "and," "or" or "but," and not combining others? Among other things, the exploration of this question may help students better understand the same vs. different logic that is often implied by colons, semicolons, and dashes.
The Punctuation of Compound Main Clauses (Maxwell L3.1.1-02) AK ToC G4
From "Billy Mink's Swimming Party," by Thornton W. Burgess Original AK ToC G4; IB2
Maxwell L3.1.1-04 AK ToC G5
Studies in Semicolons: From Rudyard Kipling's 
"The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo AK ToC G5
      This is not just a study in correctness or the rules, but an exploration of how Kipling's text supports or violates those rules. My guess is that most students will finish in about ten minutes, but discussion may take a whole class period to explore what is similar and what is different in the clauses that Kipling joins with semicolons. This is, in other words, a fundamental exercise in logic as well as in grammar.
The Punctuation of CMC (Maxwell L3.1.1-05) AK ToC -
Famous (or Interesting) Quotations Exercise # 2 AK ToC G6; 1YM
From Lassie, Come Home, by Eric Knight AK ToC G6; IG 6
The Punctuation of CMC (Maxwell L3.1.1-03) AK ToC G8
From Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle AK ToC G9; 1YM
Exercise 3 - Syntax and Logic - Compounding Main Clauses
     Students are given compound sentences from which the punctuation and capitalization have been removed. They are asked to "fix" them and then discuss why they did what they did, and to compare their versions to the originals.
In IG 5-12
From "The Twin Sisters," by Johnny Gruelle Text AK ToC G4
From Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children AK ToC G5
Combining Main Clauses (Ex 1) ToC G6; IG6; 1YM
Ten Sentences from Seventh Graders' Writing ToC G7
Compounded Main Clauses - G9, Ex 1 AK ToC G9

Exercise 4 - Treasure Hunt (and/or Recipe Roster)
The same exercise is used at every grade level:
In IG 5-12
     Treasure Hunt (and/or Recipe Roster): Find and bring to class (and/or write) a sentence that has compound main clauses.
     Creating an Exercise: In a story or book that you like, find five sentences that have compound main clauses. For your classmates, make an exercise with them; for your teacher, make an analysis key. (Remember that your teacher may use your exercise in future years.)
Exercise 5
Writing Compound Sentences with a Dash, Colon, or Semicolon
The same exercise is used at every grade level, and in 1YM.
In IG 5-12