English for Everyone

<b>English for Everyone</b>
Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Correct Use of Commas

Punctuation is a device in writing to help your readers understand better what you have expressed in your writing. There are certain punctuation rules you need to follow in order to make your meaning clear and your sentences effective.

The Comma

(1) The comma is used for clarity in separating different parts (words, phrases, or clauses) of a sentence.
e.g. The box contained some nailsa pair of clovesand a hammer.
The comma before and is optional, but is preferable where clarity may be an issue. The comma is not omitted before and in a series of independent clauses.
e.g. The father took the keyhis children carried the bagand their dog followed them.
(2) The comma separates independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (but).
 e.g. This is an excellent moviebut many people have not seen it.
(3) The comma separates a dependent clause from an independent one.
e.g. Although this is an excellent moviemany people have not seen it.
(4) The comma separates coordinate adjectives (describing the same noun) without the conjunction and.
e.g. a tall, dark, handsome man (coordinating adjectives)
However, the comma is omitted in cluster adjectives (describing the subsequent words)
e.g. a dark brown leather jacket (dark describes brownbrown describes leather; and leather describes jacket)
(5) The comma is used for clarity of meaning.
e.g. At sixty-five, you may consider retirement.
e.gNot getting any sleepthe man felt exhausted.
e.g. To write effectively, you must learn some basic writing skills.
(6) The comma separates a non-essential clause or sentence element from the rest of the sentence.
e.g. Look at this book, which was found on the kitchen floor!
There is only one book here, and it was found on the kitchen floor; which was found on the kitchen floor becomes only additional but not essential information (indicated by the presence of the commas).
Look at another example:
e.g. Look at this book that was found on the kitchen floor!
There are many other books, and this one was found on the kitchen floor; that was found on the kitchen floor is essential information because it identifies which book to look at (indicated by the absence of the commas).
(7) The comma separates modifiers and conjunctive adverbs.
e.g. He was helpful. For examplehe always helped in the kitchen.
e.g. He was a fast runner. In facthe was the fastest on record.
e.g. There are several things you must do. In the first placeyou must have the mindset to be diligent.
e.g. He wanted to pass the exam. Thereforehe worked extra hard.
e.g. She was beautiful. Moreovershe had a taste for fashion.
e.g. He is always helpful. Neverthelessthis time he did not lift a finger to help me.
e.g. He knew he was wrong. Thushe apologized right away.
(8) The comma is NOT used before subordinating conjunctions (afteralthoughbecausebeforeifsince, unless, untilwhenwhere).
e.g. You cannot leave now because the airport is closed. (NO comma)
e.g. Because the airport is closed, you cannot leave now. (comma here)
e.g. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. (NO comma)
e.g. Unless it is an emergencydo not call 911. (comma here)
e.g. We left the bar when we finished our drinks. (NO comma)
e.g. When we finished our drinks, we left the bar. (comma here)
Stephen Lau
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