Now that your child has reached Grade 6, they will have a good understanding of all the basic punctuation rules. For example, they’ll be able to correctly structure and punctuate a simple sentence, write a well formed question, and properly punctuate dialogue in their stories. These concepts along with other punctuation basics are all included in our previous grade group articles which you can find a link to at the top of this page.
Your sixth-grade child may well be ready for a new challenge and explore some new and interesting forms of punctuation and sentence structure. This article addresses a variety of different ways to use punctuation (commas, parentheses, and dashes) to vary sentence structure.
Sometimes we may want to add extra information into our sentences. This little bit extra is named a nonrestrictive clause. The sentence will make sense if the extra information is taken out.
We can use three different types of punctuation when adding extra information to our sentence:
We use commas to punctuate a nonrestrictive clause when we want the sentence to flow with little interruption.
Sentence: The Professor makes the best hot chocolate.
Nonrestrictive clause: who lives in Igloo City
Combined: The Professor, who lives in Igloo City, makes the best hot chocolate.
- Include a comma before and after the nonrestrictive clause.
Use parentheses when your nonrestrictive clause is an interruption to your original sentence or thought.
Sentence: Eek the mouse leads the Igloo City Resistance.
Nonrestrictive clause: a plucky, brightly dressed fellow
Combined: Eek the mouse (a plucky, brightly dressed fellow) leads the Igloo City Resistance.
- Use parentheses around your nonrestrictive clause
Use dashes to punctuate your nonrestrictive clause when the extra information you are adding is a big interruption to your original sentence or thought.
Sentence: Will’s injury caused him to crumple to the floor.
Nonrestrictive clause: a deep gash
Combined: Will’s injury—a deep gash—caused him to crumple to the floor.
- Use dashes before and after your nonrestrictive clause
Practice Tip: Challenge your child to unscramble sentences that include dashes to punctuate a nonrestrictive clause. Just like the challenge below that can be found on nightzookeeper.com:
Nightzookeeper.com is the perfect place for your sixth grader to put their punctuation skills to the test! There are hundreds of challenges and lessons on the program designed to help further their skills and help them to put their knowledge into practice by drafting stories and reports on the website.