GCSE English Language Technical Accuracy: sentence forms

Have you ever tried to use a range of sentence forms in your writing?

I have.

Let me tell you a story about a pair of tired old teachers who were knee-deep in exam papers. Some wag had decided to teach all their students to use the words of the question in the form of a question to start off their answer. Well, I guess that was what happened – I’m sure it had come from a place of wisdom rather than being an urban myth about how to pass GCSE that spread like wildfire among teenagers. Paper after paper came back with:

Have you ever been homeless?

Have you ever tried to organise an event for homeless people?

Have you ever thought about attending an event for homeless people?

And the likes.

It wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that every single one of those questions was answered.

Have you ever been homeless? I have.

Have you ever tried to organise an event for homeless people? I have.

Have you ever thought about attending an event for homeless people? I have.

After about five, let’s just say that it became a kind of weird, cruel and unusual punishment.  I can’t see a question like this and not think of my friend reading them out in a quasi-serious way every time she stumbled across them.

It’s one reason I find myself longing for stories and descriptions on Paper 1.

But they crop up there too!

Have you ever been on a bus journey through a city? I have.

Have you ever met someone completely different from you? …

Have you ever made an unusual discovery?

Have you ever sat at the foot of the mountains and pondered the meaning of life?

Why then, dear readers, has this hideous trope become quite so ubiquitous for GCSE students?

I suspect it hinges on two things: the accidental attempts of students to use DAFOREST (or any other mnemonic of rhetorical devices) in inappropriate and clumsy ways, and the misguided attempts of students to use a range of sentence forms.

After all, that is what the mark scheme asks for:

Let’s see…

Level 1 is roughly Grades 1-3. That asks for a simple range. That’s three different types of sentence, right? Two is not a range. But three is.

Level 2 is roughly Grades 3-5. That asks for an attempt to vary sentence forms. That means there is some conscious attempt to use different types of sentence. A reader can see attempts to make variety. I might see a simple sentence for effect, for example, or a question.

Level 3 is roughly Grades 5-7. That asks for a variety for effect. So by these grades, they are working and there is some understanding of how you can use sentence forms to affect the reader. That’s moving beyond the occasional, and it’s using longer sentences for effect as well, not just the easier stuff.

By Level 4, roughly Grades 7-9, there is a full range of appropriate sentence forms for effect. Seems clear. A full range is using an extensive variety. Appropriately means using them right.

So why do students go with that hideous ‘have you ever …. blah blah’ nonsense?

A direct address and a question seem to hit both linguistic features (for content and organisation) and range of sentences (for technical accuracy).

I’d like to draw your attention to a curious little word for Level 3 (so roughly grades 5-7) writing: APPROPRIATE. It crops up at level 4 for technical accuracy too.

Linguistic devices should be appropriate. Sentence use should be too.

I’d largely argue that the horrible direct address at the beginning of a story or description was conscious (upper level 2 – Grade 4ish) rather than appropriate (lower level 3 – Grade 5ish). And for technical accuracy, you need to be appropriate to move into Level 4.

But, my dears, if I take that nasty little ‘have you ever’ feature away from you, where does that leave us?

What even is a ‘simple range’ or a ‘full range’ of sentence forms? What even are the forms available to us when we write.

For once, I am grateful for my time in French primary schools. They are obsessed by types and forms of sentences. Obsessed. I mean they teach it over and over. It makes little difference to the nine-year-old students, but it left an indelible mark in my mind.

What are sentence types?

As a general rule, there are five. I started with three, and then I said ‘But Emma, what about… ‘ and so the list grew. Some will say three. Some will say four. I think I can find you at least five.

I’m not sure it’s a definitive list, but it’s a list nonetheless.

The first are simple sentences. My French colleagues teach that this is a sentence with one verb and one subject.

He ran.

The verb being ran and the subject being the subjective pronoun he.

The subject could also be a noun, a nominal group/noun phrase, a proper noun, an infinitive or implied – as well as lots of other things:

He ran. (subjective pronoun)
Daniel ran. (Proper noun)
A wave of irrational terror ran through the boy. (Nominal group or noun phrase)
The cat ran. (Determiner & noun)
To run is the greatest pleasure a boy can have. (An infinitive)
Run! (Implied)

But in all cases, there’s one verb and one subject (who or what did the verb).

Just as a point of interest, the simple sentence is vastly underused. A mastery of the simple sentence for effect is very much an example of higher-level writing. When you know how useful they are for expressing simple ideas, for speeding up text, for adding drama, for making your point clear, then you realise how very useful they can be. There is a messy ground where sentences may have one subject with two verbs (John dodged and feinted), or two subjects with one verb (John and Barry ran), and they fall into some other realm. Technically, since they have an ‘and’, they’re a kind of compressed compound sentence for the French. See below!

After this, we have the compound sentence, which I discussed in my post about the semi-colon. A compound sentence is joined by a FANBOYS (co-ordinating conjunction) and it splices two (or more) simple sentences together. You may find semi-colons, colons, ellipsis or dashes doing a happy job of replacing the co-ordinating conjunction, but you’ve still got at least two verbs and at least two subjects.

The monster rose up behind him. John ran.

Two verbs. Two subjects. Two simple sentences.

The monster rose up behind him, so John ran.

There are lots of accidental compound sentences permeating the work of Grade 2 – 5 students – the hideous run-on sentence which should have full stops, commas and the likes, but do not. Spliced by FANBOYS. Sounds like a terrible horror movie. I went to the shop and I bought a book about grammar and then I picked up some pencils so I could write a letter to my mum. Or even those sentences that are spliced by commas. I went to the shop, I bought a book about grammar, then I picked up some pencils so I could write a letter to my mum. When I see these accidental compound sentences, I am not thinking about Level 3. It goes back to punctuation use and demarcation, but someone who writes using commas instead of full stops, or uses too many FANBOYS, is not someone who understands what sentences are or even what they do.

Then you get the complex sentence, which has a main clause (kind of like a simple sentence) and then a subordinate clause (which doesn’t make sense without the other bit and depends on it) which is worthy of a lesson or two all on its own.

Although I like savouries, I prefer sweets.
Despite the persistent rain, we went out for lunch anyway.
I wrote endlessly about sentence types because I was bored of living.

You can do playful things with those subordinate clauses, of course. You can stick them at the front of the sentence, or you can embed them but you should never leave them dangling.

The fourth type of sentence is not wholly appreciated by all, although I love them. The sentence fragment. A sentence fragment usually has the verb missing or the subject missing. Or both.

The sentence fragment. (No verb)
Or both. (No verb)
Silence! (No verb or subject)
Congratulations! (No verb or subject)
Outside! (No verb or subject)
Weird! (No verb or subject)

Sentence fragments are used accidentally by students at the lower grades, and purposefully by those striving for the top. How that works is that round about Level 2 and 3, I’ve got a loose expectation that you have a growing competence with compound and complex sentences. By the top of Level 3 and into Level 4 (let’s talk Grade 6-9 then) I’ve got an expectation that you’ll be using simple sentences and fragments much more purposefully and efficiently. That makes it easier on you because – hooray! – you don’t have to master the harder stuff to get to the better marks. Indeed, better scripts may certainly have more simple sentences and fragments than you might be expecting.

Sounds kind of counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Do simpler stuff more and get better marks?

I’ll talk about that balance later.

So you’re anxiously waiting to hear what the final two sentences forms in my repertoire are… let’s talk about compound-complex and complex-compound

By the way, if you refer to these on Question 2 or 3 of paper 1, I’d like to remind you that a) most of the time students write ‘compound-complex sentences’ they have little idea of what that actually means, and 100% of the time I’ve seen this it has a) NOT been a compound-complex sentence and b) Had no relevance for answering Question 2 or 3 and was utterly unhelpful.

But, just to be brave, let’s talk compound-complex. This, logically, is one (or more) compound sentences where one of the clauses is dependent on another clause. The sentence that follows is – perhaps – a compound-complex sentence.

My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the neighbors because she had brought me up “by hand.”

This is such a delight. Let’s look at the clauses…

I’ve taken out that little embedded name so that it’s a little less unwieldy.

I’ve put a full stop in and replaced the omitted subject. What you can see is that we have three sentences with three verbs. The last verb, ‘had brought’ is dependent on the ‘had established a great reputation’ because of the subordinating conjunction ‘because’.

If you’re still with me.

You can see then when the bits get put back in that there is one compound sentence, and one of those bits of the compound sentence is a complex sentence.

My brain ached and my eyes bled even though I thought it all made sense. 

Arguably, then, you may also find complex-compound sentences, which would be two or more complex sentences spliced together as a compound sentence with a FANBOYS.

I guess.

Although I had a good understanding of grammar, the complex-compound sentence foxed me completely, and I found myself in a bewildering minefield even though I had been teaching more years than I cared to confess, . 

Is that compound-complex, or complex-compound? Is there even a complex-compound? Does that even exist?!

Wait though. Does that mean you could have complex-complex sentences? Oh dear.

Luckily, though, it is not these ridiculous grammatical convolutions that will secure you the best marks, since it is all about what you do with those sentences.

Those are the forms of sentences.

That’s one way to get a ‘range of sentences’.

There are also types of sentence.

There are definitely four of those, and no quibbling.

Declarative.

I hate sentences.

Interrogative.

Are you still with me?

Exclamative.

Boring!

Imperative.

Let’s leave them well enough alone. 

You could, I guess, also include affirmative and negative versions of these.

Negative declarative.

I don’t think there is anything left to say. 

Negative interrogative.

Haven’t you got anything better to do? 

Negative exclamative

I haven’t any examples!

Negative imperative

Don’t move! 

So there you have it… a bunch of different ways that you can use a range of sentences beyond the ‘have you ever had a brain aneurysm when trying to use different sentences? I have’ approach.

Just to summarise, these are the tools you have at your disposition:

  • simple sentences
  • compound sentences
  • complex sentences
  • sentence fragments
  • compound-complex (and maybe complex-compound – who knows in these turbulent and anarchic times?)
  • declarative sentences
  • interrogative sentences (a.k.a. questions)
  • exclamatory sentences
  • imperative sentences
  • and negative versions of all of the above.

The trick is how you use this glorious grammatical toolbox… but that is a topic for another day.

In the next post, I’ll be looking at how you can best use these sentences in Paper 1 and Paper 2 to gain maximum control, exploring how writers use this full range for specific effect.

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GCSE English Language Technical Accuracy: semi-colons

The post today is going to explore my most favourite of the misunderstood punctuation marks: the semi-colon. If ever a punctuation mark needed someone to champion its cause, it is the humble semi-colon, so often abused, so little understood. And if ever an English teacher liked to jump on a cause, I am that English teacher, championing the underdog. You may, by the way, want to call it a semicolon (but I think that looks ugly) or a semi colon (which I think looks like it’s in danger of drifting away from each other … semi    colon …. semi               colon …) and so I have hyphenated it because, well, I can. That, my lovely readers, is why punctuation is so flipping fun and so very individual. As long as you pick one version and stick to your guns, you are on safe ground. You might prefer semi colon or semicolon; that’s your prerogative. You know already my love of the hyphen.

I’ve written before about the semi-colon and you may find that post helpful at elucidating the numerous reasons why I love this dainty little marriage of a punctuation mark. So far, I’ve looked at how you can use hyphens and colons to help improve your technical accuracy mark, and the semi-colon completes the unholy trinity of trouble-makers.

In essence, whilst students may dash to use a colon, stuffing in lists hither and thither, they tend to leave semi-colons well enough alone.

I don’t know why that is.

Can you use the word ‘and’ to join two sentences together?

If you can do that, you can use a semi-colon.

So what do you need to know about the semi-colon?

First and foremost, it functions as a coordinating conjunction. That may well be meaningless to you. If I ask you if you know the word ‘and’, however, you’re sure to nod. If you know where the word ‘and’ goes, you are on the way to understanding the function of the semi-colon.

Coordinating conjunctions, then…

What those bad FANBOYS do is connect simple sentences of equal merit, weight or rank. The FANBOYS, by the way, are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. They join two simple sentences together to form a compound sentence.

You know simple sentences, I know. One verb and one subject.

Remember, find the verb first.

Sometimes that’s tough when they’re little auxiliary verbs like am, is, are, was, were and so on.

When you’ve found the verb, ask yourself ‘who or what [insert verb here]?’

Who or what was?

It was.

The passage continues with another simple sentence. One verb, had been, the pluperfect of ‘to be’, if you are of an enquiring mind. Who or what had been? School had been. 

When you stick two simple sentences together, you have a variety of ways to do it. One is with a FANBOYS.

Here, writer Betsy Byers has used the conjunction and – that most popular of FANBOYS.

Now, you’ll notice she’s used a comma before the coordinating conjunction. You may well have been taught that you don’t use a comma before the word and. And you don’t, if you’re British and you are writing a list. Or if the second bit relies on the first.

Comma headache.

This is why I hate the little beggars.

Can you see why?

Why, for instance, would it have been weird to write:

And you don’t, if you’re British, and you are writing a list.

An explanation for another time, I’m sure.

Anyway, back to the and.

Because a semi-colon is used to join two separate clauses (that means they could be sentences on their own if you replaced the , and with a full stop as they were earlier) you can use it wherever you’d use a , and. So Betsy Byars could have written:

I do, in fact, prefer the , and version to be honest. Just because you can use a semi-colon doesn’t mean you should. I think the semi-colon makes it sound more abrupt whereas the comma-and makes it sound more slow. That’s just my explanation. It sounds more natural with the and.

But you could use a semi-colon and it wouldn’t be wrong.

You can, of course, use and to join together two complex sentences. You can, of course, use them to join more than two simple or complex sentences, but that is where your head will start to implode and that really is to be avoided.

What does a semi-colon do that and does not?

First, it avoid repeating the word and. I mean, we get through a lot of those when we write. There are times when it’s purposeful or unavoidable, like if we’re writing a list or we want to make that list drag on.

One example comes from the David Mitchell article in The Guardian that I was using as an example of colon use:

There are two types of cosmetics, in my analysis. Lipstick and mascara. Oh, and blusher. Hang on: and powder and eyeliner and moisturiser and perfume and hairspray. Blimey, there are loads. And styling mousse and hair dye and spray tan and unnecessary surgery.

Why then does he use all of these ands? Surely he knows how to write more properly than this? That gives me a clue. It’s for effect. He wants those ands there. They act as little exaggerators that separate out all those types of cosmetics. They heap ridicule on his first assertion that there are only two types of cosmetics. They add to his feeling of astonishment that “there are loads”.

That is a time that I want an and. Also it’s a list, and you can’t have semi-colons in this type of list. It would be weird and ugly.

He does, by the way, include two semi-colons in this article. You can look for them if you are that way inclined. I’ll give you a clue: he’s using them properly in a list.

So where DO you use a semi-colon and where would it be appropriate to replace a FANBOYS?

It’s appropriate where you don’t want to imply an order or priority to the ideas. For instance where you are giving equally important facts. In a story, it’s loosely chronological so an idea can’t get upset just because it comes after another one. No offence to the other ideas that follow, it’s just how things happened.

Now let’s take non-fiction and non-chronological writing.

If I write:

The full stop marks the end of a completed thought. The semi-colon marks a continuation. 

The idea that comes second is quite literally second best. When we order our ideas in non-narrative writing, we choose a sequence or priority. The first one to show up is the most important, simply because it got there first. Unless we signal that our second, third or fourth ideas are the most important, through discourse markers such as more importantly, then the second-best idea may get hurt feelings if you put them second.

You’re laughing of course. You have never had to write an article about local florists that ended up causing a war.

Hearts and Flowers, based in Edenfield, provide bespoke wedding centrepieces and bouquets. Magnificent Blooms in Haslingdon cater for large events and are happy to provide aisle decorations, pedestals and even wedding arches. 

Can you see how going second might not make my fictional ‘Magnificent Blooms’ quite so happy? You think I’m joking, but you’ve never had to face a 40-minute tirade from an irate business who really didn’t want to find themselves second.

A semi-colon stops some of that aggravation. It says, quite simply: THESE THINGS ARE EQUAL.

So for that reason, if you are trying to show that the idea following is only there because one of them has to come second, but that doesn’t imply that it is of lesser importance, the semi-colon is what you are looking for.

Semi-colons are great little pivots that provide balance and equilibrium in a sentence:

‘Storm on the Island’, written by Seamus Heaney, explores the power of nature in a land torn apart by unmentioned civil unrest; ‘Exposure’ by Wilfred Owen makes more direct reference to the backdrop of war but focuses on the soldiers’ battle against an all-powerful Nature which seems intent on killing them all. 

A semi-colon tells your reader that you are comparing or contrasting ideas.

So how do you use them safely?

Firstly, you need to make sure that what you have on both sides is a full sentence. There are exceptions to this, but you need to work with stabilisers on for a bit before you ride solo.

Secondly, it can always be replaced by a full stop.

Thirdly, you should be able to replace it with an ‘and’. Or a ‘but’. Or any of the other FANBOYS

So if you abide by those three simple rules, you should be safe. Remember that the semi-colon replaces the FANBOYs: you don’t need both.

You also need to remember not to over-use them

A colon directs you only one way – forward, into an explanation or embellishment. A semi-colon can direct you in any number of ways: a comparison, a contrast, a balance, a pivot, a twist or two (or more) parts of a single idea. Semi-colons imply a close relation between ideas, which a full stop does not. A full stop is a divorce of ideas; a semi-colon is a marriage of them.

You can also use them before discourse markers such as however, nevertheless, also, consequently, therefore and so on – as long as there are two full sentences on either side.

I tried the beef and onions, as you suggested; however, they disagreed terribly with my digestion.

The film was a tawdry romance with dialogue verging on saccharine at points; nevertheless, I enjoyed it all the same.

I found I could not get on with Thackeray; therefore, I abandoned ‘Vanity Fair’ and took up with Dostoyevsky.

These ‘conjunctive adverbs’ need a semicolon before them in ways that the FANBOYS have a comma before them when they join two independent clauses together. Now there’s a nonsensy tech sentence I never thought to write.

You can find more conjunctive adverbs and some examples here and here

Next time, I go in search of the strategies you can use at GCSE to improve your use of sentences. Make sure you sign up if you want regular emails with these posts.

GCSE English Language Technical Accuracy: hyphens

In the last post, I was looking at punctuation in general, including the requirements for punctuation at GCSE for English Language.

To hit Level 2 or above, you will need to show growing accuracy in a range of punctuation.

At Level 2 (5-8 marks out of 16, roughly up to Grade 4), you will need to show you have some control a range of punctuation.

At Level 3 (9-12 marks out of 16, roughly up to Grade 7), you will need to show you can use a range of punctuation mostly successfully.

And at Level 4 (13-16 marks out of 16, up to the top of Grade 9), you will need to show you can use a wide range of punctuation with a high level of accuracy.

In stories and descriptions, however, you may find that you are hampered by what you are writing. After all, it’s not like stories or descriptions necessarily lend themselves to a wide range of punctuation in the same way that Paper 2 does. Indeed, in the extract I use about sentence forms from best-selling writer Lee Child, there were really only four punctuation marks used over 300 words: full stops, commas, omissive apostrophes and hyphens.

Hyphens are sadly overlooked. They have the power to change meaning completely.

Think about this sentence:

No smoking restrictions are in place

And this one:

No-smoking restrictions are in place

That hyphen has the power to mean that a) you CAN smoke or b) you CAN’T smoke.

Or this sentence:

A government monitoring programme will be set up.

How does it compare to:

A government-monitoring programme will be set up.

Well, in the first, the government are doing the monitoring, and in the second, the government are being monitored.

Hyphens also help with pronunciation.

The football player resigned

And:

The football player re-signed

Again, very different meanings.

A hyphen is word glue. It glues words together or glues on prefixes to change meaning. It glues words together that you don’t want separated, or that you want people to consider to be one single thing.

There aren’t really guides as such, or definitive rules, but there are places where you’d definitely need a hyphen to make meaning clear. My rule is that I’m happy for them to be left out as long as meaning is clear, but it’s a sophisticated writer who thinks to include them where the meaning is clear but the words should be considered together.

Times move on, and words that used to be hyphenated, like tool-box, are no longer hyphenated. In fact, it looks rather quaint. Old-fashioned hyphen use like this is probably not necessary.

You can also use them to split up words if your word is going to drop off the end of the line and you ran out of space because the word was longer than you thought it was. Not their best use, but a use nonetheless. If you ever go into the world of typesetting and printing, you’ll need to know this stuff, but not if you just want a good grade at GCSE.

In terms of pronunciation, you wouldn’t usually use a hyphen unless the sense is confusing. That’s going to happen most where there is a word spelt the same but with a different meaning, like re-signed and resigned. Recreation and re-creation are another pair of examples. You can also use it with double letters such as re-examine, because reexamine looks hideous.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve got things before a noun and the first alters the meaning of the second, use a hyphen:

  • a well-read book
  • a little-used cup
  • a well-known brand of coffee
  • a three-year-old boy
  • a much-needed holiday
  • a best-kept secret

But if those adjectives come after the noun, then you don’t need a hyphen.

  • The book was well read
  • The cup was little used
  • The coffee brand was well known
  • The boy was three years old
  • The holiday was much needed
  • The secret was best kept to himself

You also find them in colour blends, like amber-gold, yellow-green, snow-white IF they come before the noun as well, like an amber-gold sunset, but not the sunset shone amber gold. They are quite fabulous for Paper 1 description or descriptive bits in narrative.

Fractions (two-thirds of a mile), times (a half-hour wait) numbers that modify an adjective (a third-floor apartment) also have them. Again, you don’t have them if they come after. The apartment was on the third floor doesn’t need one.

You can see the pattern, can’t you?

If you’ve got an adjective and it’s changed by another adjective, and they come before a noun, you’re going to use a hyphen.

To be honest, at GCSE, I’m just looking for them if you’ve used well, little, much or best before another adjective before a noun. I’m also looking for them if the sense is confusing.

You can see how in this example, panic buy is confusing…

Clearly something is needed to make it clear that they weren’t told ‘Don’t panic! Buy petrol!’ and ‘Don’t panic-buy petrol’ would be clearest. Clearer still would be ‘Don’t buy petrol in a panic’, but since this is a headline, you can see why there is a need for brevity.

Sometimes, a missing hyphen can cause confusion, as you have seen already.

Bernard was having extra marital sex.

Was he having an affair or had his marriage just picked up a notch? Yes, I know what they mean. They don’t mean he was having a lot of hanky-panky with his missus. They mean he was cheating. But if they mean that he was cheating, they really should have put a link in it.

His poodle is a well behaved dog.

Let me get this straight… his dog was well, or it was well behaved? If it was well behaved, it needs a hyphen. If, however, by bizarre and poor English, it was well and behaved, then that’s okay then.

The carriage was followed by six foot men.

So Cinderella had six servant guys or she was followed by an unspecified number of men who were six feet tall? You can, of course say footmen if you mean the kind of guys who follow carriages about in fancy old-fashioned clothing.

He was a rare cheese maker.

So he made rare cheeses or he was a cheesemaker who was rare?

Joyce Carol Oates was a short story writer.

She wrote short stories or she was short and she was a storywriter?

Now you don’t care about my silly examples of very deliberately chosen carelessness with hyphens. But I do care to give you some real-life examples. Without further ado, here are forty examples from the four things I am reading at the moment…

  • real-life version; self-reliant cook; rightward-slanting handwriting; co-authors; an upper-middle-class family; real-estate holdings; pinky-red rare; a bride-to-be’s cooking course; our day-to-day lives; pale-blue airmail paper
  • middle-class; socio-economic; semi-Dutch parentage; grand-daughter; non-Prussian areas of Germany; semi-secret; the one-time editor; far-reaching duties; mid-December; so-called
  • grid-like; deep-red tiles; a worm-eaten chest; ochre-washed farmhouses; bomb-damaged buildings; Burt Lancaster’s over-muscled physique squeezed into a leotard; blood-red poppies; there was nothing run-of-the-mill about the building; long-dead; vice-like
  • one of the world’s best-known figures; high-heeled boots; a bald-faced liar; it’s effort-free; rent-free; self-employed; aimed at eight-to-fifteen-year-old girls; two-thirds of UK children; Seventeenth-century Britain; a series of one-line paragraphs

As you can see, if you turn your similes around and put -like after, you need a hyphen. It’s also good for things where you stick on a -free after a noun. Definitely useful with numbers and colours. Actually when I did this exercise, I found hyphens everywhere – they littered fiction and non-fiction alike. I didn’t have to flick through pages and pages to find them, either.

Not a one of the examples is particularly confusing without a hyphen, but a hyphen helps all the same. Also, since they’re fairly conventional and rule-bound, they’re the kind of thing I like to look for if I’m trying to find a range of punctuation in writing, or if I’m trying to justify a Level 3 for punctuation or above. There is an element of personal style there (wait until we get to semicolon, semi colon and semi-colon) but there are times when it’s much more of a convention, like in old-fashioned or high-heeled than in others like toolbox.

Some further reading:

Grammarbook

Grammar Tips

Now get out and get practising!

Up next: colons.