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Teacher Tips and Answers

Editing Literary Analyses

After revising your literary analysis, it is time to work on the finishing touches. Editing involves polishing your writing so that it has correct sentences, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, usage, and grammar. The following activities will help you edit your analysis.

Editing for Comma Usage

A comma creates a slight pause, gently separating the idea that comes before from the idea that comes after. This little separation help readers understand how words relate to each other. For example, a comma can show a reader how two or more adjectives work in front of a noun.

To Separate Equal Adjectives

Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives if they modify a noun in an equal way. Do not use a comma if the adjectives modify the noun in an unequal way.

I have a difficult, challenging job.

("Difficult" and "challenging" modify "job" in an equal way, so a comma is needed.)

Seasonal construction jobs are physically demanding.

("Seasonal" and "construction" do not modify "jobs" in an equal way. They need to be written in that exact order without a comma to make sense.)

How can you determine if adjectives are equal or unequal? Use one or both of these simple tests:

  • If you can switch the order of the adjectives and they still sound right, they modify equally and need a comma.

    I have a challenging, difficult job.

  • If the word and works between the adjectives, they modify equally and need a comma.

    I have a difficult and challenging job. I have a difficult, challenging job.

To Set Off Introductory Clauses and Phrases

Use a comma after an introductory clause or a long introductory phrase. The comma helps the reader know when the introduction is over and the main part of the sentence is beginning. If an introductory phrase is very short (three words or fewer), the comma is optional.

Because weather changes quickly in the mountains, we carried rain gear.

(an introductory clause)

Sore and tired from the climb, we stopped for a rest near a waterfall.

(an introductory phrase)

After lunch we continued our hike.

(a short introductory phrase)

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