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Comma Rules

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by

Kate Cottle

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Comma Rules

Comma Rules
Rule 1 – Separating Items in a Series
Rule 2 – Separating Independent Adjectives
Rule 3 – Direct Address
Rule 4 – Combining 2 Independent Clauses with a Conjunction
.Rule 5 – Non-Essential Elements
Rule 6 – Quotations
Rule 7 – Conventional Uses
Rule 1 – Separating Items in a Series

Rule:
When creating a series of 3 or more equal items, commas are used to separate the items.

Remember: This is not just for single words, but also for phrases and clauses.

Examples:
I need a pencil, paper, and a ruler.
He studied on Thursday, relaxed on Friday, and took the test on Saturday.

Rule 2 – Separating Independent Adjectives
Rule:
When describing a word with 2 or more adjectives, these adjectives must be separated by commas.

Remember: When creating a compound adjective (two or more words combined to form a single adjective) use hyphens, NOT commas.

Examples:
He wore his new, blue suit to the event.
It was a long, difficult test.
The children thought she was a crazy, angry, old woman.
On the sun-drenched Saturday, I ate hand-picked apples.
I am having a I-should-not-have-gotten-out-of-bed-today kind of day.

Rule 5 –Nonessential Elements ( Dependent Clauses, Phrases, Appositives, or Parenthetical Expressions)
Rule:
When attaching information that is not necessary for understanding the sentence, or for creating a complete sentence, commas must be used.

Examples:
Larry, my brother’s friend, works down the street.
Karen, as we all know, has done an excellent job.
When the repairman arrives, you need to show him the leak.

Rule 4 – Combining 2 Independent Clauses with a Conjunction (FANBOYS)
Rule:
When using a coordinating conjunction to create a compound sentence, a comma must come before the conjunction.

Remember: A semicolon cannot be used with a coordinating conjunction because the conjunction creates a dependent clause.

Example:
I am confused, and I would like your advice.
I thought I was in love, but I was not.
I can be miserable, or I can break up with her.

Rule 3 – Direct Address
Rule:
When a sentence contains direct address, the addressee must be separated by commas.

Remember: If the addressee is the first or last word of a sentence, one comma is used, but, if the addressee comes mid-sentence, commas are placed on either side.

Examples:
Tonya, I need your help with the yard work.
You are the one that got us lost, Drew.
Let’s not forget, Mike, that we are responsible.

Non-Essentials, cont.
Remember: Double check if commas are necessary by removing the word or words separated by commas and seeing if there still is a complete sentence.

Examples:
Larry,
my brother’s friend
, works down the street.
Larry works down the street.

Karen,
as we all know
, has done an excellent job.
Karen has done an excellent job.

Remember: The word “that” begins an essential clause in English (no comma is used with it), while the word “which” begins a nonessential clause (a comma must be used with it). The words “who” or “whom” must be used when referring to people, and can be either essential or nonessential.
In many cases, it is left to the writer’s discretion to determine whether a group of words is essential or nonessential.

Examples:
The house, which has been abandoned for years, is getting demolished next week.
The house that has been abandoned for years is getting demolished next week.
The boy who lives down the street will water the plants while we are gone.
The boy, who lives down the street, will water the plants while we are gone.

Reminder/Somewhat Non-Essential
Remember: If a sentence starts with a dependent clause, it must be attached to the independent clause with a comma.

Examples:
Before the game started, the players warmed up.
If I ever got lost while making a delivery, I just use my GPS.
Rule 6 – Quotations

Rule:
A comma must be used before starting a quotation.

Remember: When quotations are broken up mid quote, a comma must be used before each part of the quotation.

Examples:
According to one study, “Commas are often misused.”
One expert argues that, “commas indicate a pause,” and that, “they are often misused.”

Rule 7 – Conventional Uses--Separating Elements of Geographical Locations, Addresses, and Dates, Salutations
Rule:
Each element in an address, date, or geographical location must be separated by a comma. When starting a letter, use a comma after the name of the person being addressed.

Remember: No comma is necessary between a month and year when they appear without a calendar date, between a city and zip code, or between a street number and the name of the street.

Examples:
I now live at 333 Maple Street, Apartment 23, Chicago, Illinois 44332.
On March 14, 2015, my grandmother will be 100 years old.
The next presidential election will take place in November 2016.
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