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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 11-12

Language L.11-12.2

L.11-12.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • Observe hyphenation conventions.
  • Spell correctly.

Using standard American English also means knowing how to capitalize, punctuate, and spell the standard American English one puts in writing. By grades 11 and 12, most students should be familiar with the basics, such as that capital letters come at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns and that periods (or question marks, exclamation points, or ellipses) end them. These grades provide the opportunity, in the opinion of the Common Core State Standards, to deal with a more subtle punctuation problem - the use of the hyphen - and to continue the lifelong battle to master English-language spelling.

P.S. If your students need to brush up on their spelling and grammar, send 'em over to our Grammar Learning Guides so they can hone their skills before conquering the Common Core.

Standard Components

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Sample Activities for Use in Class

1. Hyphenated Adjectives

The hyphen is often used to combine several words that are all part of an adjective phrase describing a noun. Knowing when to hyphenate adjectives can be tricky, so it pays to practice.

Give students the following six questions and have them mark which ones use hyphens correctly and which do not. Students may work alone or in groups. When they’re finished, discuss the answers students came up with and explain the correct answers.

1. My pet parakeet, Mariposa, is eleven-years-old today.

(Answer: “eleven years old” should not contain hyphens, since it is the object of the sentence, and it does not directly modify any noun.)

2. Mariposa is the smartest eleven-year-old parakeet I know, even if she is getting old.

(Answer: “eleven-year-old” should be hyphenated, since it immediately precedes and describes “parakeet.”)

3. The vet told me that parakeets as old as Mariposa are difficult-to-find, especially in the wild.

(Answer: no hyphens, for the same reasons as Question 1.)

4. In addition to being my difficult-to-find parakeet, Mariposa can also sing the trombone part in John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” even though she thinks Sousa is a terrible composer.

(Answer: hyphens, for the same reasons as Question 4.)

5. Lots of people and other parakeets seem to like Sousa, though, because his terrible-composer music is played all over the world and people always applaud for it.

(Answer: hyphens, because “terrible-composer” directly modifies “music.”)

6. I’ve played the trombone part in “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” though, and I can tell you that it’s not-as-fun-as-it-looks.

(Answer: no hyphens, for the same reasons as Questions 1 and 3.)

Example 2

2. Homophones: The Hidden Traps of English Spelling

Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. There are a wide range of these in English, and by grades 11-12, most kids have mastered - or are at least familiar with - the easy ones, like to/too/two and their/they’re. Nevertheless, there’s a whole world of homophones just waiting to show up as spelling errors in a paper or email.

Have students review the seven sentences below. All the underlined words are spelled correctly, but not all are the correct word in the context of the sentence. Have students identify which ones they think are correct and why, then discuss the right answers as a class.

1. After seeing the Porsche run the red light, the officer pulled the driver over and sited

(Answer: “sited” means “located.” The correct word to use here is “cited.”)

2. Although the other kids thought it was a great idea, Carrie refused to shoplift any candy, deciding instead to be true to her principals

(Answer: the “principal” is the person who is in charge of a school. Carrie is actually being true to her “principles,” or guidelines for moral behavior.)

3. Malia poured over the ancient manuscript, realizing she was the first person to see it in over a thousand years.

(Answer: if Malia “poured” something on an ancient manuscript, she’d be in deep trouble, because she probably would have ruined it. Instead, Malia is examining the manuscript carefully, which should be expressed by using the word “pored” (present tense “pore”).)

4. Manuel brought red wine to the party because he knew it would compliment the hostess’s choice to serve roast beef.

(Answer: Complimenting the hostess would be a polite thing for Manuel to do, but it has nothing to do with which wine goes with roast beef. “Compliment” means to praise someone; “complement” means to go along well with something.)

5. Jonas was shocked to learn that his football coach had caught HIV, but he promised to be discrete by not revealing the information.

(Answer: “discrete” refers to a series or group of separated things. Jonas needs to be “discreet” about his coach’s sensitive information by keeping it on the down low.)

6. Although they still loved England, the entire family became ex-patriots when they moved to Canada.

(Answer: an “ex-patriot” is someone who used to love his country, but doesn’t anymore. When this family moved to Canada, they more likely became “expatriates,” not “ex-patriots.”)

7. The twins thought babysitting would be a snap, until they found themselves overcome by a hoard of their charge’s screaming best friends.

(Answer: a “hoard” is a collection of something. A “horde” is a group of people or animals, usually stampeding.)

Quiz 1 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

  1. In Questions 1-5, choose the correct spelling for the underlined word.

    He secretly thought his twin brother was ruining both their lives, but he knew better than to say it allowed.

    Correct Answer:

    aloud

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - “aloud” = “out loud” and “allowed” = “permitted”


  2. Dale entered the perfume store to ask if they had any new scents.

    Correct Answer:

    scents

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - “scents” = perfumes


  3. The researchers knew no one would take their article seriously unless they sighted all their sources correctly.

    Correct Answer:

    cited

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - “sighted” = “saw” and “cited” = “credited”


  4. If a strange dog walks up to you, stay stationary, because the dog may chase and bite you if you run.

    Correct Answer:

    stationary

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - “stationary” = “still/ unmoving”


  5. The shortstop through the ball to home plate, but the runner was already home safe.

    Correct Answer:

    threw

    Answer Explanation:

    (e) - “through” = “in one side and out the other” and “threw” = “past tense of throw”


  6. In Questions 6-10, choose the phrase that correctly shows how the underlined phrase should be hyphenated (or not).

    Amy was not at all looking forward to spending Christmas with her mother-in-law.

    Correct Answer:

    mother-in-law

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - This compound word is always hyphenated.


  7. The cheapest dresses are located at the back-of-the-rack.

    Correct Answer:

    back of the rack

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - This phrase describes the location of the dresses; it is not considered a single word and therefore is not hyphenated.)


  8. The conductor shook Johann awake, explaining that everyone needs to get off the train at the end-of-the-line stop.

    Correct Answer:

    end-of-the-line

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - This is an adjective that describes the stop, and is therefore hyphenated.


  9. The double glazed antique windows were not supposed to leak, but Gladys discovered a puddle of water beneath them the morning after the thunderstorm.

    Correct Answer:

    double-glazed antique

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - There are two adjectives here that describe the window: “double-glazed” and “antique.” There’s a hyphen between “double” and “glazed” since both words form one adjective together; “antique” is a whole different adjective and since it stands by itself, there are no hyphens linking it to “double-glazed”.


  10. The courthouse has such an old fashioned heavy metal detector that it doesn’t even notice when people walk through with their car keys in their pockets.

    Correct Answer:

    old-fashioned heavy metal detector

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - The noun here is “metal detector,” so there are no hyphens between these two words. There are two adjectives here that describe the noun: “old-fashioned” and “heavy.” There’s a hyphen between “old” and “fashioned” since both words form one adjective together; “heavy” is a whole different adjective and since it stands by itself, there are no hyphens linking it to “old-fashioned”.


Quiz 2 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

  1. In Questions 1-5, choose the phrase that correctly shows how the underlined phrase should be hyphenated (or not).

    Adam and Steve decided to buy a split-level four-bedroom house in the suburbs outside Chicago.

    Correct Answer:

    split-level four-bedroom house

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - The noun here is “house,” so there are no hyphens between “bedroom” and “house” – rather, the noun stands by itself. There are two adjectives here that describe the noun: “split-level” and “four-bedroom.” There’s a hyphen between “split” and “level” since both words form one adjective together; there’s another hyphen between “four” and “bedroom” since both words form one adjective together. However, there is no hyphen between “split-level” and “four-bedroom” since they are two separate adjectives.


  2. Sookie the parrot is extremely well behaved for such a young bird.

    Correct Answer:

    extremely well-behaved

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - There is one adjective here that describes Sookie: “well-behaved.” There’s a hyphen between “well” and “behaved” since both words form one adjective together. “Extremely” acts as a modifier, and should not be hyphenated.


  3. This toaster comes with an eight week money-back-guarantee, so if you don’t love it, just bring it back to the store.

    Correct Answer:

    eight-week money-back guarantee

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - The noun here is “guarantee,” so there are no hyphens between “back” and “guarantee” – rather, the noun stands by itself. There are two adjectives here that describe the noun: “eight-week” and “money-back.” There’s a hyphen between “eight” and “week” since both words form one adjective together; there’s another hyphen between “money” and “back” since both words form one adjective together. However, there is no hyphen between “eight-week” and “money-back” since they are two separate adjectives.


  4. Ursula is far too talkative at work, and Philip is an even more far-too-talkative person.

    Correct Answer:

    far-too-talkative person

    Answer Explanation:

    (e) - The three words “far-too-talkative” form an adjective that describes the person, so they are hyphenated.


  5. Does anybody really know what-time it is?

    Correct Answer:

    know what time it is?

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - There are no adjectives here, so there are no hyphens.


  6. In Questions 6-10, choose the correct spelling for the underlined word.

    Jennifer agreed to wear a dress, but she drew the line at wearing stalkings.

    Correct Answer:

    stockings

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - stockings = tights; stalking = creepily following and watching a person


  7. We’re going to have to whey all three hundred cows before we can set a fair price for them.

    Correct Answer:

    weigh

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - weigh = take the weight measure; whey = the watery part of milk after it separates


  8. It never fails - I finally get a week of vacation time from work, and I come down with the flue.

    Correct Answer:

    flu

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - flu = influenza; flue = a chimney


  9. Robert is almost certain to be court-marshaled, because no one can dessert his buddies like that and get away with it.

    Correct Answer:

    desert

    Answer Explanation:

    (e) - desert = abandon; dessert = sweet treats usually eaten at the end of a meal


  10. Malinda knew she shouldn’t peak at her birthday gift, but she was very tempted to do so.

    Correct Answer:

    peek

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - peek = take a quick look; peak = top of a mountain or hill


More standards from Grades 11-12 - Language