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Commas RULE!: Comma Rules

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Sable Edwards

on 22 January 2014

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Transcript of Commas RULE!: Comma Rules

Commas RULE!: Comma Rules
Rule #2
Use a comma to mark where the main clause begins after a long introductory word group.

When Greg fell into the vat of fertilizer
, he realized he had taken a wrong turn.

(The main clause is he realized he had taken a wrong turn. When Greg fell into the vat of fertilizer looks important, but it just tells when the main action occurred.)

TIP: If you can put the first part of the sentence at the end and the sentence still makes sense, then the comma belongs after the introductory clause.

When I get home

I will take nap
I will take a nap

when I get home
. (no comma needed.)
Rule #3
Use a comma between three or more items in a series to show their equality.


Wilma bought eggs for the party, milk for her cat, cookie dough for her children, and a bone for her dog.

We invited Ted, Larry, Erica, and Danny.
Rule # 6
Rule # 7
Laugh a little
Rule #1
When you join two independent clauses (two complete sentences) with a fanboys (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), put a comma before the fanboys. (or boyfans)
Rule #8
Dates, Addresses, and Numbers


My birthday was June 12, 1985, according to my mother.

Zack Smith was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1970.

See the man at 508 East Courtland, Mead, Washington 99207.

→ If the title follows the person's name, use commas. If the title comes before the person's name, don't.


3,100 or 3100




Rule #4
Use a comma between coordinate adjectives not joined by and.

Don't panic--
coordinate adjectives
are easy to understand.

= describes a noun
= the describing words are equal, so you can switch their positions and the sentence still sounds okay.

EXAMPLE: Debbie was an independent, confident, talented woman.

Note I can also write:

Debbie was a confident, independent, talented woman.


Debbie was a talented, confident, independent woman.

No matter the order, the sentence still sounds okay, so I use commas.
You do
need a comma if the independent clauses are joined by because, when, if, until, or any other dependent word.

Don't confuse these words with fanboys.

Fanboys connect; these other words create dependence.
Rule #5

EXAMPLE: Bob cried when Sue left him, but he realized later he was better off without her.
Example: Jill left Jack after their date
she realized he was too young.
put a comma before “and” if “and” joins only two words or phrases.

EXAMPLE: Bob bought Estelle roses for her birthday and a coupon for a free pedicure.
(The “and” is joining only two phrases, so no comma is needed.)

EXAMPLE: The students studied the rules of writing and began to do better on their assignments.
(The words that follow the “and” are not an independent clause--there is no subject--so no comma is needed.)
Use a comma on both sides of a conjunction or appositive that interrupts the sentence.

link words, phrase, or clauses
A noun or pronoun set aside another noun to help identify it.


The unicorn,
, is a very strange animal.

my loving puppy
, is the best dog.

Use commas to set off non-restrictive word groups, but don't use commas to set off restrictive word groups. Sounds confusing? It isn't--read on.

A non-restrictive word group contains extra information about something or someone already identified. A restrictive word group contains essential information needed to identify something or someone.


My friend Vinny,
who is wearing the tuxedo
, is getting married today.

Note that we do not need the underlined word group to identify (or restrict) who is getting married today since we are told at the beginning of the sentence that it is Vinny. Therefore, the underlined information is extra or

The man
who is wearing the tuxedo
is getting married today.

Note that we do need the underlined word group to identify which man is getting married. Therefore, it's essential or
. In other words, the reader needs the information to restrict all possible men to one--the one wearing the green coat.

Nouns in Direct Address

Check this one out. If we're talking to or addressing someone in a sentence, their name is a noun in direct address:


We'd like to thank you, Ms. Edwards, for teaching us commas.

Note that we're talking to Ms. Edwards (addressing her).

But if we write,
“We'd like to thank Ms. Edwards for teaching us about comma rules,”
no commas are needed because we're now talking about Ms. Edwards, not to her.

If we forget the commas, sometimes misunderstandings arise:

Wrong: I said I would leave after I eat Bob.
(Cannibals may find this a correct sentence.)

Better: I said I would leave after I eat, Bob.
What's wrong with this photo?
What's wrong with this photo?
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