Here are some more specifics. For example, Here’s a list of groceries I need: a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of butter. Contending that the coordinating conjunction is adequate separation, some writers will leave out the comma in a sentence with short, balanced independent clauses (such as we see in the example just given). The megaproject went billions of dollars over budget, as the cost of cement was unexpectedly increased. In writing, commas usually signal a pause that would be heard if the sentence were read aloud. army.) A comma is used here, because it would also make sense to say, “He’s a cheerful and kind boy”. All Right Reserved, Some writers have very strong feelings for and against the serial comma, 7 Examples of Passive Voice (And How To Fix Them). There are some cases where you know you should use a comma – such as when separating items in a list – but there are other times when you might be unsure whether or not a comma is needed. In order to understand whether or not the –ly word is an adjective, place it with the noun to test if it can be used alone with the noun. Comma Rule Fourteen. Use a comma after every three numbers when a number is bigger than 999 (1,000,000). Use commas before every sequence of three numbers when writing a number larger than 999. But the definition of the comma is not easy. Ultimately, it’s up to you (and your editor!) For example, in numbers over 1,000 the comma separates sets of three digits at a time. Use commas to separate items in a list. Correct: More than 50,000 people turned up to protest. Best summary on commas that I have seen. For example, you would use a comma in this sentence: “I love to visit Tokyo, Japan.” Additionally, commas are used to separate counties and states as well as countries and continents. This page has examples explaining when to use commas before 'which' and 'who' and when to omit commas. It’s hard to imagine a world without punctuation marks, but the ancient Greeks themselves struggled to read and write sentences (if you can call them that) without the navigational aid of spaces, punctuation marks, or uppercase and lowercase letters. Commas can be used to break up sentences that have more than one clause and make them easier to read. 2-minute read. add a comment | 4 "I went to Japan and returned in 2009" is correct but rather unspecific. If the piece of direct speech comes after the information about who is speaking, you need to use a comma to introduce the direct speech. As a general rule, you should use a comma to introduce quoted material or dialogue. However, in “delicious chocolate cake,” the word chocolate is a direct modifier of cake. When Albert saw the food, his tummy started to rumble. (They’re coordinating if you could place “and” between them.) For example: 1.) Are you using “so” as a coordinating conjunction? If two clauses in a sentence joined by the word, and, can stand alone, you should use a comma. It’s a short, soft pause, as opposed to the longer pause signified by a period. Incorrect: More than 50000 people turned up to protest. When to Use a Comma Before 'Because' We are currently experiencing playback issues on Safari. Sometimes, writers end up inserting unnecessary commas or using commas incorrectly. A comma separates words, not letters. The switch that stops the recording device also controls the light. This refers to whether the use of the word “thus” significantly interrupts the flow of a sentence or is used for emphasis. Let’s look at some examples: Mary is from Houston, Texas. NOTE: Do not use a comma if the order is reversed (the independent clause comes before the dependent clause), except for cases of extreme contrast. At a Glance. Talking with her, you’d try to head off your happy marriage. For example, the address of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10038. Here are some examples. Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. However, we could also say: “I love chocolate, cookies and ice cream,” omitting the last comma. You could also use dashes in this context: John went for a jog – which took half an hour – before having a long hot shower. A list of items can be punctuated like this: In the first case, the “serial comma” or “Oxford comma” is used after the penultimate item in the list. You must determine the function of the word “so” in order to know whether to use a comma. Do not use a comma to separate any element of the date, when written in British style (also common around the world and in the U.S. For example, you would use a comma in this sentence: “I love to visit Tokyo, Japan.” The comma is omitted in the first example and is included in the second. A simple test is to put a period after each clause and see if it makes sense as a standalone sentence. You can also use a comma with a shorter phrase when you want to emphasize it or add a pause for literary effect. (itwouldlooksomethinglikethis). Note: Using a comma after the next-to-last item in a list is a stylistic choice and may depend on the style guide you’re following. Example: My estate goes to my husband, son, daughter-in-law, and nephew. EXAMPLES: She drove to work, and I went to school. Use commas between multiple adjectives. In general, it’s more commonly used in American English than in British English, but you’ll find that opinions vary on both sides of the Atlantic. If “thus” does not significantly interrupt the sentence, it is a weak break, and it might not need a comma. Correct: The rain and the wind battered the house. So they're tempted to do the same if they move to the increasingly common European method. The Oxford comma—also called the serial comma—is one of the most divisive linguistic devices in the English language. Note how much easier it is to read. Commas separate elements in addresses: Comments. Correct: The rain poured down on John and Sue. You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed! Learn about the right way to start and sign off that birthday card to grandma! The comma (,) When to use a comma. (Two exceptions are writing years and house numbers.) You shouldn’t put a comma after the final adjective. Use a comma to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. When to Use a Comma Before “Which”. Taking the word but for example, if it is being used to join two independent clauses together then there should be a comma before but. 2. Overall, these nonrestrictive clauses basically just add extra information to a sentence. Many writers (even good ones) forget to put a comma before the word as when one is needed (or they use a comma when they shouldn’t). Adjectives that relate to the same noun or modify the same object. Too many people try to separate two items with a comma when there’s no real need to do so. The least we can do is learn how to use it properly! The comma (,) is a tricky little creature, often peppering texts when an inexperienced author panics about their punctuation. No comma is used in the construction, “2 July 1980.” This comma-free form is popular in online publication, where the anti-comma bias is strong. 3. But one day dad …, Copyright © 2020 Daily Writing Tips . Incorrect: The rain, and the wind battered the house. “I’m not feeling well today,” Stella confessed, “because I stayed up too late last night.”. Mignon Fogarty Grammar Girl. Sing, dance, and learn when to use a comma with the dapper rappers, Blazer Fresh! The incorrect version is called a “comma splice”. Incorrect: There were no clouds in the sky, I went for a jog. Some writers have very strong feelings for and against the serial comma. Don’t use commas when your list has only two items. If the clauses aren’t fully independent, i.e. Use commas to separate words and word groups in a simple series of three or more items. When creating a list of three or more simple words, items, or concepts, use a comma to separate each word or word group. Informal or personal correspondence uses a comma in place of this colon. “Indica” vs. “Sativa”: There Is A Difference. It can also divide clauses (“parts of a sentence”) or items in a list. Here, “bath” is acting as an adjective to modify “towel”, but it’s not coordinate with “blue”. Use a dash to cut off dialogue. Example: My estate goes to my husband, son, daughter-in-law, and nephew. share | improve this answer | follow | answered Jun 20 '11 at 2:36. But, Patty, my second cousin, came to visit, does need commas to set apart the nonrestrictive clause (the part of the sentence that isn’t necessary for the sentence to be understandable): my second cousin. When a word or phrase forms an introduction to a sentence, you should follow it with a comma, as recommended by Purdue OWL. So yes, while we may complain about learning the rules of grammar, we should all admit reading is much easier with a guide like a comma to show the way. Rule 4: If a Sentence Begins With a Dependent Clause, Use a Comma After It If a sentence begins with an introductory phrase or dependent clause , it should have a comma immediately after it. Redefine your inbox with Dictionary.com updates! I think I have them sussed and then a sentence comes along where I am doubting everything again. The order of the adjectives soft and comfortable could be reversed, so they’re separated by a comma. Do not use a comma. Writing a book is only the first part of the process, but you could spend just as much time editing it. It is perfectly fine to use a comma before and: as seen in, "the dog barked, and the cat ran away." Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises! Fido was a lovely, vibrant dog. If you remove as well as contractors, the sentence loses some essential information. And, it is often used to create division or to improve the clarity of a sentence. Prepping kids (pro bono), including my own, for ACT and SAT. What about greeting cards? When the answer is “yes,” place a comma before the word. Incorrect: The rain poured down on John, and Sue. Some examples of this are: Content marketing takes time, but it is worth the effort. Each of the elements in a date (weekday, month and day, and year) should be separated by a comma. Commas are the most frequently used (and abused) punctuation mark in most kinds of writing. I used to be a werewolf, but I’m much better naaaoowwwwwww! While commas are normally either required or not required, there’s one key instance when you can choose whether or not to use a comma – and either option is equally correct. She read many classics, such as “Our Mutual Friend” and “Moby Dick.” [CORRECT] He planned his vacation so that he could visit places such as the Grand Canyon. There are certain grammar rules for when to use a comma with these example phrases and when to leave it out, depending on the context. That’s because in most types of dialogue, the quoted material stands apart from the surrounding text. The dog is … The reason for this is that they have so many uses and so many rules—it can be hard to keep track of them all. (A comma is necessary before the last ‘ and .’) Example: The Constitution establishes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. For example: A comma can also separate nonessential words from the essential parts of a sentence. A comma is used at this time to show that the city is part of something larger, a state or country. When you use as well as in a nonrestrictive clause, the same rules apply: Deborah, as well as her assistant, decided to attend the convention. When a thought is left unfinished, however, a dash should be used instead. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (We enjoyed the warm, sunny weather). The cake mix requires flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. An example is: The employee discount policy applies to full-time workers as well as contractors. Commas also separate items in a list, and this is another use of a comma that quickly comes to mind. Use a comma before a conjunction (conjunction are words like 'and', 'or', and 'but') when it joins two independent clauses. A list can be simple, as in a series of words: He bought milk, eggs, and bread at the store. Below is an example of such a sentence. The position of a comma can often reflect the sense in which the word is being used. It is possible (but very uncommon) to write such a subordinate clause after the main clause, in which case it makes sense to omit the comma: He doesn’t know how to solve integrals although he is a mathematician. Use a comma after a conjunction to provide balance. You can also use commas to divide sets of numbers. Rule: If the clauses are both short, you may omit the comma. Rule 1. When to Use a Comma Before 'Because' You don’t automatically put a comma before the word because, but sometimes you need a comma there to make sure your meaning is clear. Used correctly, commas should clarify the meaning of the texts by dividing and grouping words, phrases or clauses to help the reader. Unlike when you should use an … Many writers do struggle with them, so don’t feel bad if you find them hard to get to grips with. 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