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How to Use a Comma
Transcript of How to Use a Comma
Rule #1-Use a comma to separate three or more items in a simple list.
- Remember that the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma) is not required.
Example 1: Today I went to the store and bought a lawn chair, Fritos, and a DVD.
Example 2: Today I went to the store and bought a lawn chair, Fritos and a DVD.
Rule #2-Use a comma to separate two adjectives if the word "and" can be placed between them logically.
Example 1: The brown, furry dog chased my car.
Example 2: The big brown house was next to the park.
*You would put a comma here because saying "the brown and furry dog" is logical.
*You would NOT put a comma here because saying "the big and brown house" sounds odd and is illogical.
-This rule requires you to think about how words sound when you put them together.
Rule #3-Use a comma to separate an unnecessary phrase that interrupts the flow of a sentence.
Example: I drove my car, a Porsche, to the bank.
*Commas are used in this sentence because it is not necessary that we know what kind of car the person drove to the bank.
Rule #4-Use commas to separate the name of a person being directly addressed from the rest of the sentence.
Example 1: Larry, get back here!
Example 2: I hope, Larry, that you did your homework.
Rule #5-Use commas to separate the year from the rest of a complete date.
Example 1: Miss Jones was born on January 25, 1988.
Example 2: On January 25, 1988, Miss Jones was born.
Rule #6-Use commas to separate the name of a state/country from the rest of a sentence when combined with the name of a city.
Example 1: My mother is from Yuma, Arizona.
Example 2: Istanbul, Turkey, is a city with thousands of years of history.
Rule #7-Use a comma to separate a person's degree or title from the rest of the sentence.
-This only applies when the person's name appears
Example 1: I go to Dr. Susie Smith, DDS, when I need my teeth cleaned.
Example 2: The reporter asked for an interview with Johnny Johnson, accountant.
Rule #8-When a dependent clause is at the beginning of the sentence, use a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence.
Example: After driving for several hours, Tony decided to stop at a hotel to sleep.
*If the phrase "after driving for several hours" were at the end of the sentence, the comma would be unnecessary.
Rule #9-When you add identifying information about a person/object, use commas to separate the information from the rest of the sentence.
-This rule is similar to #3; the difference is in the necessity of the information. The information here is necessary for identification.
Example 1: Tell that person, the one in the blue coat, not to throw his trash on the ground.
Rule #10-Use a comma to separate two complete sentences.
-Be sure to use a conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so)!
Example 1: Ronald wanted to go to the beach, but the rest of his family wanted to go to the mountains.
Example 2: Belinda desperately wanted a nap, for she had only slept two hours over the last three days.
Rule #11-Use commas when writing
-Use quotation marks around your dialogue.
-All punctuation should go
the quotation marks at the end of the dialogue.
Example 1: My mom said, "I can't believe you did that!" when I told her I broke the door off the refrigerator.
Example 2: "Go to your room," said my mom after I broke the door off the refrigerator.
Rule #12-Use a comma to separate a statement from a question when the statement is written first.
Example 1: I bought my ticket to the Royals' game, did you?
Example 2: Did you buy your ticket to the Royals game? I did.
*If a comma were used instead of the question mark, you would not be able to move the question mark to the end of the sentence because the "statement" portion would no longer make sense.
Rule #13-Use a comma to separate two
short contrasting statements.
Example 1: I didn't take the bus, I took the train.
Example 2: Arthur ate the squash, Will refused.
Rule #14-NEVER use a comma before or after the word "because."
Example 1: I drove to town because I was bored.
Example 2: Because I was bored, I decided to drive to town.
14 Rules for Easy Reference