Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sit and Set Pop Quiz With Answer Key!

      Sit Down While I Set Up a Quiz For You!

Sit and rise have I's--and lie does too.
"Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
When each one has an object after it to use.

Fill in the blanks below with the correct forms/tenses of sit/set.

  1. She _________ down and wept when she heard the news.
  2. They _______ down.
  3. They _______ the plants out.
  4. They will be _______ the clothes out beforehand.
  5. Yesterday, he ________ down to rest.
  6. They will ________ the clothes out to dry.
  7. He _________ down.
  8. He is ____________ down.
  9. They will be _________ the clothes out beforehand.
  10. She has _________ the clothes out beforehand.
  11. They have __________ down.
  12. He has ____________ down.
  13. They __________ the trap to catch the bear.
  14. They are __________ down.
  15. They will ________ the tent up at .


  • She sat down and wept when she heard the news.
  • They sit down.(or sat)
  • They set the plants out.
  • They will be setting the clothes out beforehand.
  • Yesterday, he sat down to rest.
  • They will set the clothes out to dry.
  • He sits down.
  • He is sitting down.
  • They will be setting the clothes out beforehand.
  • She has set the clothes out beforehand.
  • They have sat down.
  • He has sat down.
  • They set the trap to catch the bear.
  • They are sitting down.
  • They will set the tent up at .
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2013

    Merry Christmas from Language Lady!

    This time of year we see a plethora of spelling, capitalization, grammar, and usage errors--on signs, catalogs, greeting cards, and more:
    1. merry Christmas on a greeting card (which technically isn't wrong, but just doesn't look right either!)
    2. "This line is for eight items or less"--even though it should be "eight items or fewer"
    3. Xmas--even though the Associated Press itself says to never use this abbreviation!
    4. Seasons' Greetings (which indicates that you are offering someone greetings for more than one season--the plural noun seasons)
    5. Happy capitalization guy or girl--Christmas Tree, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Ham, etc.

    Many holiday greetings and terms are subjective (shocking, huh?); however, here is a list to help you see the most common ways that greetings and holiday words are expressed this time of year:

    1. You can write any of the following:
    a. Seasons Greetings (no possession shown at all--more of a noun describing another noun)
    b. seasons greetings (same as a., but no capitalization--not recommended for greeting cards and headers)
    c. Season's Greetings (the most common way, showing that the season {one season} possesses the greeting; note the capping here)
    d. season's greetings (like c but not capped)

    2. Of course, people also write Merry Christmas in different combinations (with and without the M capitalized; however, Christmas should always be capitalized because it is a proper noun by itself:
    a. merry Christmas
    b. Merry Christmas

    3. To cap or not to cap greetings? This is a stylistic preference, but if it is in a header or greeting card, you definitely want to capitalize:
    a. Season's Greetings or season's greetings
    b. Merry Christmas or merry Christmas
    c. Happy Holidays or happy holidays
    d. Happy New Year or happy New Year
    e. Happy Christmas or happy Christmas
    f. Happy Christmastime (all one word) or happy Christmastime (again, all one word)

    4. Words that are already proper nouns should remain proper nouns in every context and should retain their capitalization:
    a. Santa Claus
    b. Poinsettia--This is traditionally capitalized because the flower is named after a botanist and physician who was also the first US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. In 1828, he introduced the plant to the country.
    c. The actual holidays
         i. Christmas or Christmas Day
          ii. Christmas Eve
         iii. New Year's Eve (one year--singular YEAR.....hmm...."that doesn't end in an s, so I need to put apostrophe s")
         iv. New Year's Day

    d. North Pole (Remember--you capitalize directions when they are part of a proper noun already--but not when giving directions. No "Turn West at the corner"!)
    e. Jesus, Jesus Christ, Messiah--most Christian publications capitalize names for or references to God and Jesus
    f. All locations associated with Christ's birth and life as they are proper nouns already--Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc., and, of course, King Herod, Joseph, and Mary (but not shepherds or wise men)
    g. When describing decorations, only capitalize the original proper noun:
         i. Christmas tree
         ii. Christmas wreath
         iii. New Year's Day dinner
         iv. Christmas Eve party

    h. Nativity is capitalized when it stands alone or when it is combined with non-proper noun elements
         i. Nativity scene
         ii. Nativity pieces
         iii. Nativity story

    i. Advent is capitalized in all contexts 

    Merry Christmas from Language Lady! 

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Raise vs. Rise

    RAISE a toast! Use an object with RAISE....toast is the object.

    Sit and rise have I's--and lie does too.
    "Coz these are things that I, all by myself, can do.
    Set, raise, and lay are words that you choose
    When each one has an object after it to use.

    I like to start with the simplest Wacky Word pair—RAISE AND RISE--though I have often thought sit/set was the easiest pair because all of the set forms are the same. However, raise and rise are less often misspoken or mis-written, so I have changed my thoughts on this. 

    Remember these RISE and RAISE tips:

    1. Rise has an I—and I alone can do it (it is not done TO something else).
      1. I RISE early.
      2. Yesterday I ROSE early.*
      3. Before that I had RISEN early.
    *Just think I RISE early, and Rose ROSE early...

    1. RISE means to head upward—anybody or anything can rise, as long as it does it by itself (i.e. it is NOT RAISED)
      1. The sun ROSE early...all by itself.
      2. I RISE before dawn (not really!).
      3. They are RISING up in protest.
      4. She has RISEN from that position one time.
      5. They are RISING in honor of the king. 
      6. We have to wait for the bread to RISE.

    1. RAISE does not have an I (first)—it is done TO something.
    2. RAISE must have an object following it—something that it is being RAISED.
      1. RAISE the flag..
      2. Did he RAISE a toast?
      3. They will not RAISE the drawbridge today.
      4. She had some definite opinions to RAISE at the meeting.
      5. The kids RAISED a raucous to get attention.
      6. We RAISED our voices in protest.
      7. How much money did we RAISE?

    1. RAISE is the same base word for all of its tenses: RAISE, RAISE, RAISED, RAISING.  That is why I recommend teaching this Wacky Word pair first (of the three), along with the fact that people do not usually say, "I rose my glass for a toast," so it is more familiar, thus making it easier to learn (going from the known to the unknown, the familiar to the unfamiliar).

    Okay…the tenses for the pair:

    1, RISE
                a. Base form: RISE—Today I RISE early.  (Remember—no object; early is an adverb here, not an object.
                b. Past simple: ROSE—Yesterday I ROSE early..
                b. Past participle: RISEN—Before that, I had RISEN early.
                d. Third person singular: RISES—He RISES early.
                e. Present participle/gerund: RISING—I was RISING early.

    2. RAISE
          1. Base form: RAISE—Today I RAISE my voice in the meeting.  (Object—voice)
          2. Past simple: RAISED—Yesterday I RAISED my voice in the meeting.
          3. Past participle: RAISED—Before that I HAD RAISED my voice in the meeting.
          4. Third person singular: RAISES—She RAISES her voice in the meeting.
          5. Present participle/gerund: RAISING—I am RAISING my voice in the meeting.

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    O is for ORGANIZING FOR WRITING--Some Tips for Helping Young Children Organize for Writing

    Sometimes it takes more than a cool binder (and even some awesome pens and highlighters) to get young children going in their writing.

    Besides the aforementioned "taking dictation" for a young writer (he dictates to you what he wants to write and you do the penning {or keying} for him), some simple organizational strategies can get the second through fifth grader off to a good writing start.

    *Note: These tips assume that reading fluency of at least non-phonetically-controlled books (i.e. silent and oral reading without phonics instruction or coaching) has been accomplished--and that the student understands the basic components of a sentence.

    Here are three ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES that we use in our textbooks. All three of these have the added advantage of really digging right in to the concept that a "paragraph is a unit of thought," a crucial skill for all writers to develop.

    1. The Question and Answer Approach

    In this simple strategy, you simply prepare a list of questions that, when answered in complete sentences, would create a nice paragraph. The key here is to know about the subject your student will be writing about (i.e. his day at the zoo Saturday) in order to ask the right questions.

    You can carry out this approach in a number of ways:

    a. Have the questions written with lines beneath each one for the student to fill in. Then have him (on another day) copy those sentences in that order into a paragraph.

    b. Ask him the questions (slowly and one at a time) verbally and have him answer you orally in complete sentence form. Then help him write the answer down in paragraph form as he goes through the questions with you orally. The benefits of this are that he only has to write the paragraph one time (good for reluctant "penners") and he sees the paragraph form as he answers.

    c. Have the questions written with lines beneath each one. You read the question with him and have him answer it--and you write down his answer in NOTE form. Then he uses these notes to create his paragraph. This is for students who are experienced in writing from notes.

    2. The 5 W Approach

    This approach is good for a mini biography (one paragraph) or for a re-telling (narrative--about his latest book or recent museum trip, etc.) essay. In this approach, you simply have a template prepared with the Five W's (who, what, when, where, why....and how).

    You can handle this a couple of ways as well:

    a. Have lines with each of the W's--for the student to answer in complete sentence form. Then (another day) have him write those answers in paragraph form.

    b. Do the same as above in b.--ask him the questions verbally and help him write the answers to each W in paragraph form as he goes through the W's.

    c. Have the W's listed on a sheet of paper that he goes through to himself and answers, writing down his answers to each W in a complete sentence in paragraph form as he goes.

    d. Use the "you create an outline on the W lines" for him approach similar to c in #1. Again, this assumes that he can write from an outline already.

    3. The Paragraph House

    This is a cute approach for first, second, and third graders (especially since I made it up!).

     In this approach, you use a full sheet of paper and do the following:

    a.  Draw a large square in the middle of the page (one that takes up half or more of the page).

    b. Divide the large square into four quadrants and place lines in each quad for the student to write on.

    c. Draw a rectangle at the bottom of the large square that goes clear across the large square. (This will be your Paragraph House's foundation, so you want it to run clear across your "house.") Draw lines in this rectangle for the student to write on as well.

    d. Draw a triangle over the entire large square. (This will be your Paragraph House's upper story.) Place lines in here too.

    e. If your student is advanced, you can draw a large chimney out of your triangle. This will be for the "topic of paragraph"--and at first, you should write the topic in here for him. (For example, May Zoo Trip or New Video Game, etc.)

    To use your Paragraph House, do the following (or any combination of the ideas from 1 and 2 above if your student needs for you to pen for him or for you to outline for him while he dictates, etc.:

    i. In the "foundation," help your student write a Topic Sentence, explaining to him that the foundation of the house is the topic of the entire paragraph, and just like every house needs a foundation, every paragraph needs a Topic Sentence telling what the entire paragraph is about. (Again, you may use the Paragraph House for notes only, not complete sentences, if desired.)

    ii. Move into the four quadrants of the Paragraph House. Tell your student to write four things about his topic in these. (Again, either in note form or complete sentence form.)

    iii. Move to the attic of the Paragraph House and help your student write another sentence that restates the Topic Sentence in other words. For example, if his Topic Sentence (in the foundation rectangle) was "On Saturday, I went to the zoo with my family," help him write a summary of that and his paragraph: "Our Saturday zoo trip was a lot of fun."

    iv. Now have him number the four quadrants of his house in the order that he wants to put the information in his actual paragraph.

    v. Finally, have him start with the foundation, and write his Topic Sentence. Then move into his four numbered quads and write his four body sentences. Finally, have him write his final sentence out of the attic.

    Fun, huh?

    The main things to remember about writing with young students are the following:

    (1) They are smart and creative--regardless of whether they can pen or type.
    (2) They need direction (which is why I use my Directed Writing Approach in all of my books.) They don't need a list of ideas--they need step-by-step help to teach them how to write.
    (3) They need to see that writing is creating--and that they really can write.

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    Major Works and Minor Works Quiz With Answers


    Are you as ready to move on from this topic as I am? With teaching it to one hundred students last week and writing about it here several times, I am just about "major and minored" out! However, we can't leave such a misunderstood topic without a quiz!

    So here you go.....Decide in each sentence provide whether the title is a major work or minor work. (Answers below.)

    1. I used the encyclopedia essay titled Mammals for my report.

    2. I just got a new cd called Ballads for the Ballroom. (That sounds like a good idea--I should do that!)

    3. Have you ever read the book The Red Badge of Courage?

    4. My favorite dance song on my new cd is Could I Have This Dance?

    5. She assigned five chapters this week, starting with Non-Essential Information. (You guess it, LL readers--that is what we are going to study this week on here!)

    6. They said we could consult Wikipedia, but we aren't allowed to cite it.

    7. Our new favorite boxed television show is Person of Interest.

    8. I haven't received a Reader's Digest magazine in years.

    9. My favorite composition series is Meaningful Composition.

    10. I am using their bonus book right now, called The SAT Essay and Other Timed Writing.

    Image from Marketmybook

    ANSWERS! Major Works are shown with Italics; Minor Works are shown with quotation marks. Explanations are in parentheses following each sentence.

    1. I u
    sed the encyclopedia essay titled, "Mammals," for my report. (Encyclopedia essay title is a Minor Work--found within the encyclopedia, whose title is a Major Work.)

    2. I just got a new cd called Ballads for the Ballroom. (Musical compilation titles are Major Works--the song titles on/in the compilation are Minor Works.)

    3. Have you ever read the book The Red Badge of Courage? (Book titles are Major Works--the chapter titles within the book are Minor Works.)

    4. My favorite dance song on my new cd is "Could I Have This Dance?" (Song titles are Minor Works--the title of the songbook or cd that contains the song is the Major Work.)

    5. She assigned five chapters this week, starting with "Non-Essential Information." (Chapter titles are Minor Works--the title of the book containing the chapters is the Major Work.)

    6. They said we could consult Wikipedia, but we aren't allowed to cite it. 
    (Encyclopedia titles are Major Works--the titles of the essays within the encyclopedia are Minor Works.)

    7. Our new favorite boxed television show is Person of Interest. (Television show titles are Major Works--the titles of the scenes or chapters within the program are Minor Works.)

    8. I haven't received a Reader's Digest magazine in years. 
    (Magazine or journal titles are Major Works--the titles of the articles within the magazine/journal are Minor Works.)

    9. My favorite composition series is Meaningful Composition
    (Book titles are Major Works--the chapters within the book are Minor Works.)

    10. I am using their bonus book right now, called The SAT Essay and Other Timed Writing. 
    (Book titles are Major Works--the chapters within the book are Minor Works.)

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Q and A: Colons

    "Sometimes I see colons used before quotes; other times I see them used before lists. Which is correct? How do I know when a colon is the right punctuation mark?"

    Just taught this yesterday to a dozen kids preparing for the SAT--and I'll be teaching it again tomorrow to a dozen more who are preparing for the SAT. I will tell you what I told them:

    1. You want to learn how to use colons. That skill will make you look smart since so few people know how to use them properly!

    2. You should always have a complete sentence on the left side of the colon:

    a. This means that it CAN be used following a speech tag (before your quoted words) IF the speech tag is a complete sentence:

          i. Yes: HE SPOKE WORDS OF COMFORT: "You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it." (Words on the left of the colon could stand alone; you could place a period there, and it would be a real, complete sentence.)

        ii. No: HE SAID: "You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it."

    b. This means that it CAN be used to introduce a list IF the introduction to the list is a complete sentence:

         i. Yes: I NEED SEVERAL THINGS FROM THE STORE: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

         ii. No: I NEED TO GET: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

    c. This means that it CAN be used to ask a rhetorical question IF the words preceding the colon make up a complete sentence:

      i. Yes: WE LOOKED FOR HIM EVERYWHERE: suddenly he appeared!

      ii. No: WE LOOKED AND: suddenly he appeared!

    3. A colon should NEVER follow two types+ of words:

    a. An action verb used as an action verb. No: SHE WANTED US TO GIVE: money, time, and household goods.

    b. A preposition used as a preposition: No: SHE ASKED US TO: come early, stay late, and work non-stop.

    +When a sentence ends in an action verb or a preposition, that word usually makes the sentence into a non-sentence (i.e. you can't put a period there and call it a real sentence): She asked us to.

    4. Colon use is often subjective in technical writing, such as text books, blogs (!), and other places where they are used to teach or expound upon topics in list form, etc.

    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    B is for BEING VERBS!

    3bpblogspot clip art

    B is for BEING VERBS!

    In our books, we group being/helping/linking verbs together since they often serve the same purpose, and they all have the same modifiers (i.e. adjectives modifying noun before BHL verb as opposed to adverbs modifying the verb), etc. 

    To help you remember the Be, a Helper, Link verbs, there is a little rhyme that you can sing to the tune of ABC’s (or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”):

    Be, a Helper, Link verbs,

    Is, Are, Am, Was, & Were.

    Be, & Being, Been, Become,

    Has, & Had, & Have are ones.

    (Now I said my ABC's)
    Can, Could, Shall, Should—they are fun.

    (Next time won't you sing with me?)
    Will, Would, Do, Did, Does, & Done.

    May, Might, Must—they are some as well,

    Appear, Look, Seem, Remain, Taste, Feel, & Smell.

    B is for BHL VERBS!

    There are a number of reasons to memorize being, helping, and linking verbs:

    (1) When one stands alone as a linking verb or is used before a base verb as a helping verb, it is the verb that you match with the subject: He IS happy...is must match with He; they ARE going (are must match with they.

    (2) They tell WHEN something happened (present, past, etc.).

    (3) When one stands alone, it may have an adjective following it--which is going back to the noun or pronoun before it, describing that noun or pronoun. (You do not use an adverb with a single BHL verb.)

    (4) When one stands alone, it should have the subjective form of a pronoun following it (if it has a pronoun following it), not the objective: This is SHE (not this is HER).

    (5) When a base verb follows has, had, or have (and oftentimes was and were), it should be in its past participle tense:

    a. has written
    b. had gone
    c. have done
    d. had lain
    e. has risen
    f. have come

    A is for APPOSITIVES!

    Eng111cafe clip art

    A is for APPOSITIVE!

    We teach the appositive extensively in our writing and language arts books because it is an amazing conciseness technique--and it shows a student's skill in handling difficult grammar concepts and punctuation challenges. Plus, it truly does help a student write more concisely!

    Here is the basic of this grammar item:

    1. Is a phrase that restates something else.

    2. Is usually used to restate (or elaborate on) the subject (though it can be used to restate anything really.

    3. Is set off with commas if it falls in the middle of the sentence. (Remember: Anything that is set off with commas should be "removable" and a complete sentence remains without it!)

    4. Can be used to combine two sentences into one in short, choppy sentences.


    Donna writes language arts and composition books every day.

    Donna has written over fifty curriculum texts.

    Donna, WHO HAS WRITTEN OVER FIFTY CURRICULUM TEXTS, writes language arts and composition books every day.

    Cool, huh?

    A is for APPOSITIVE

    Did you know that last week's PUNCTUATION PUZZLE had an appositive in it?

    I had barely noticed her mood, HER TEMPERAMENT, when she suddenly blew up, and she began shouting and throwing things at me, which was something I was not accustomed to seeing.

    Notice the following:

    1. Her temperament renames the noun mood.
    2. It is set off with commas surrounding it (her temperament).
    3. It (along with the commas) can be removed from the sentence, and a complete sentence remains.

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    WORDY WEDNESDAY--Prefix ir

    The prefix ir is an interesting prefix for a number of reasons:

    1. It means not. There are many prefixes that can mean not, such as de, a, un, non; however, ir also means not, which is interesting to me because I don't think it sounds like it should mean not! To me, it sounds like it should mean again or repeating or something besides not!

    2. It only comes before base words that begin with R. In other words, you do not put ir in front of most any word to mean not, like you often do with un or non. 

    3. This isn't really interesting--but I like to say it whenever I teach about prefixes. A prefix is a letter or group of letters that you "affix" (which is why it and suffixes are called affixes) to the beginning of a word. It is important to remember that a prefix does not change the spelling of the base word. That is especially crucial in spelling ir words because the ir precedes an R already--and you must keep the base word's spelling, so when you add this prefix to a word, you will ALWAYS have two R's in a row: irregular, irresponsible, etc.

    4. It is most often put before a word that is should never come before: regardless. We hear people constantly say irregardless, which is, of course, an oxymoronic word because less means without (or not) and ir means not. I guess that makes it sort of like using a double negative! You do not put ir before regardless because regardless already means without regard. With ir in front of it, you are saying not without regard, I guess.... Anyway, irregardless is not a word. So don't use it. Okay? :)

    Note: It is correct, however, to use irrespective, which is a substitute (some of the time) for when you are tempted to say irregardless.

    However, there are many base words that begin with R that can have ir put before them to mean NOT or the opposite of what the base word means before ir is added to it.

    Here is a list to get you started. Notice how if you take the ir off, you have a positive base word (or one that means yes--yes regular, yes responsible, yes revocable, etc.) However, with the ir, the word means not---not regular, not responsible, not revocable, etc.

    Remember: You know more than you think you know!

    And remember: Use what you already know to learn even more!

  • irregular
  •  irresponsible
  • irrevocable
  • irrefutable
  • irradiate
  • irreconcilable
  • irredeemable
  • irreducible
  • irrefutable
  • irregularity
  • irrelevant
  • irreverence
  • irreligious
  • irreparable
  • irreplaceable
  • irreversible
  • irresolute
  • irretrievable
  • irresistible
  • Irrelevant
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    WORDY WEDNESDAY--Prefixes Having to Do With Heat

    We are having a heat wave here in Indiana. We have had temperatures above ninety degrees this week. Today it was 92 degrees--a perfect day to go swimming and a perfect day to get a sunburn!

    For today's WORDY WEDNESDAY, I thought we would look at two prefixes that have to do with July in Indiana--SOL and THERM.

    If you have been reading Language Lady very long, you know my two rules of thumb for learning:

    1. You know more than you think you know.

    2. Use what you already know to learn even more!

    Those two rules of thumb definitely apply to today's prefixes.+

    We encourage our students to take a key word--any word that you already know--that has to do what you are trying to learn.

    In the case of sol and therm, you can take two words you already know as your "key words" to help you remember these two prefixes:

    SOL--solar....you know that solar means sun if you have ever talked about a solar blanket for your pool, solar power (generating power through the sun), or solar eclipse

    THERM--thermos or thermal...you know that THERM means heat if you have ever carried your soup or coffee in a thermos or had "thermal underwear" on in the winter to keep you warm.

    So...take your two KEY WORDS and use them any time you see the prefixes SOL and THERM:

    1. Sol
    a. solar
    b. solarium--part of a room that is exposed to the sun
    c. solstice--the pointer in which the sun stands sill

    2. Therm
    a. thermoplastic
    b. thermos
    c. thermodynamics
    d. thermoelectric

    The "solar heat" is high right now in Indiana, and the thermometer shows it at in the low nineties!

    +Remember: A prefix is an affix. An affix is a letter or letters attached to a word that give more meaning to the word. The affix itself actually has meaning. A prefix is an affix that is added to the beginning of a word--thus, the prefix to the word prefix PRE (meaning before)!

    PUNCTUATION PUZZLE: The shepherd led them to the brook....

    PUNCTUATION PUZZLE---plus a couple of other errors for you to find!

    The shepherd lead them to the brook and they drank alot, because they were very, hot, and thirsty.

    Here is the answer with an explanation for each aspectbelow: The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot because they were very hot and thirsty.

     LED vs LEAD: The shepherd LED them to the brook......

          1.  LEAD (pronounced ledd with as short e) is only pronounced ledd when it refers to a metal or pencil graphite.           2. Otherwise LEAD is pronounced leed (long e) and is the current tense of the verb lead (LEED).                                     3. LED is the past tense of the verb LEAD (pronounced LEED, with a long e).

    CS ,cc CS--Do you remember these rules for compound sentences? 

    1. CS stands for complete sentence; cc stands for coordinating conjunction. 

    2. You can join one CS (complete sentence) with another CS by using a comma-cc (,For/ ,And/ ,Nor/ ,But/ ,Or/ ,Yet/ ,So). 

    3. You may not combine two complete sentences into one with a cc only--you must put a comma before it: The shepherd led them to the brook, AND they drank....

     ALOT vs A LOT:  ALOT is not one word; it should be two words--A LOT---meaning a bunch or a large amount: The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot....

    No comma before a subordinator at the end of a sentence unless it is a WHICH clause-

    1. You do not need a comma before the BECAUSE. 

    2. You do not hear a pause (like you would if it were a WHICH clause): The shepherd led them to the brook, and they drank a lot because they were very hot and thirsty.

    No Comma Between an adverb and the adjective it describes---

    1. Or more clearly put, no comma between a qualifier and a describer: VERY hot and thirsty (not VERY, hot, and thirsty).

    2.  Very is an adverb telling how hot (an adverb describing an adjective or qualifying it). 

    3. Tip for this: 

         a. If you can put an AND where you are trying to put the comma, then a comma is needed (in place of the and): they were muddy, hot, and thirsty (muddy AND hot AND thirsty). 

         b. If you cannot put an AND, do not put a comma: very AND hot---NO!). 

         c.  Also, do not use a comma when you have only two adjectives and you are placing an AND in between them--either use a comma (hot, thirsty) OR place an AND (hot and thirsty) but not both.