when to use a comma

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For example, in numbers over 1,000 the comma separates sets of three digits at a time. Use a comma when an -ly adjective is used with other adjectives. 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. A quick and simple guide to the comma. Correct: The rain poured down on John and Sue. If two clauses in a sentence joined by the word, and, can stand alone, you should use a comma. Rule: Use a comma between two long independent clauses when conjunctions such as and, or, but, for, nor connect them. When a word or phrase forms an introduction to a sentence, you should follow it with a comma, as recommended by Purdue OWL. whether or not you use it. The sections in bold could be removed from the sentences completely and it would still make perfectly good sense. They’re also useful if you have several other commas in the sentence, to help avoid confusion. Below is an example of such a sentence. (They’re coordinating if you could place “and” between them.) If you introduce a sentence with a transition word (e.g. Use commas to separate items in a list. 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. Use a comma to separate dates and addresses. The only rule here is to be consistent throughout your piece of writing. The comma is omitted in the first example and is included in the second. When to Use a Comma. When this is the case, it is a strong break and needs a comma. Rule 1. ProWritingAid won’t help anyone learn commas. Sometimes, writers end up inserting unnecessary commas or using commas incorrectly. This probably the first use of commas you learned in school: separating items in a list of three or more things. In a list of three or more elements, place a comma after each element. Also use a comma to separate the elements in an address, or when referring to a city and state or country. This trick works because 'which' without a comma is used to head a defining clause, just like 'that.' 2. The position of a comma can often reflect the sense in which the word is being used. But one day dad …, Copyright © 2020 Daily Writing Tips . Listen . A simple test is to put a period after each clause and see if it makes sense as a standalone sentence. Incorrect: The rain poured down on John, and Sue. Fido was a lovely, vibrant dog. So they're tempted to do the same if they move to the increasingly common European method. army.) share | improve this answer | follow | answered Jun 20 '11 at 2:36. Use commas between multiple adjectives. And, it is often used to create division or to improve the clarity of a sentence. If you remove as well as contractors, the sentence loses some essential information. But the definition of the comma is not easy. Used correctly, commas should clarify the meaning of the texts by dividing and grouping words, phrases or clauses to help the reader. Each of the elements in a date (weekday, month and day, and year) should be separated by a comma. When a thought is left unfinished, however, a dash should be used instead. However, we do use a comma for the above when it’s written as an appositive. For example, you would use a comma in this sentence: “I love to visit Tokyo, Japan.” Don’t use a comma before the conjunction when the second clause can’t stand alone. Unlike when you should use an … The cake mix requires flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. Use a comma to separate the date from the year, when written in American style. The comma (,) is a tricky little creature, often peppering texts when an inexperienced author panics about their punctuation. Why: People who have grown up in the United States are used to placing a comma before the year (January 14, 1990). We use a comma every third digit from the right. The least we can do is learn how to use it properly! In grammatical terms, it’s “syntactically independent.” Here are two examples from the first book in the “Game of Thrones” series. 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. Let’s look at some examples: Mary is from Houston, Texas. If the clauses aren’t fully independent, i.e. Examples include separate a city from a state (Boston, Massachusetts), a last name from a first name (Morris, Krista), or a proper name from a title (Chris Parbey, Jr.). This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. That’s because in most types of dialogue, the quoted material stands apart from the surrounding text. 2 pencil, and several sheets of blank paper to the exam room. At a Glance. Use a comma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses, as in "He hit the ball well, but he ran toward third base." A comma is used to show the difference between two separate ideas or elements within a sentence. Also use a comma to separate the elements in an address, or when referring to a city and state or country. Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! December 30, 1975 [12.30.75 - US style] 2. Ultimately, it’s up to you (and your editor!) Though it makes more sense to use a colon, or semicolon in these cases. You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free. It's impossible to set specific rules about how to use a comma with one word because that word could be used in a number of instances. We use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence. For more on this, see Rule #8. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? If you’re finding commas particularly tricky, though, you might want to use an app like ProWritingAid (reviewed here) to help check your writing. Note how much easier it is to read. In a street address, commas divide each piece of information. For example, the address of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10038. Each time you write a list of three or more things, you’ll want to include your commas so as to maintain the flow of the sentence. You don’t need a comma if both the independent clauses are relatively short and similar in meaning: Sue went to the shops and John went home. In this example, we use a comma … Examples: Well, I’m not going home on foot, at any rate. Brackets vs. Parentheses: How to Use Them. I hope this helps you make more sense of commas. Rule 1: Use a Comma in a Series or List. You shouldn’t put a comma after the final adjective. Here, “bath” is acting as an adjective to modify “towel”, but it’s not coordinate with “blue”. However, we could also say: “I love chocolate, cookies and ice cream,” omitting the last comma. It should be separated from the independent clause that follows it using a comma: However, it’s normally not necessary to use a comma if the independent clause comes first: For more on this, plus an example of an instance where a comma is required after the independent clause, take a look at Subordinate Clauses and Commas. Use a comma before a conjunction (conjunction are words like 'and', 'or', and 'but') when it joins two independent clauses. A comma is used to separate the name of the person speaking (or a pronoun) and a verb. Incorrect: The rain, and the wind battered the house. Writing a book, if I haven’t put you off already, is one of the most rewarding things you can do. A comma separates words, not letters. before an essential or restrictive clause, that is, a clause that limits or defines the material it modifies. Rebecca Aydin/Business Insider Each of the elements in a date (weekday, month and day, and year) should be separated by a comma. (itwouldlooksomethinglikethis). Commas also separate lists of longer phrases: The dog ran out the front door, through the mud, and dashed out the open gate. Here are two common issues to watch out for in your writing. The dog is … Having finally arrived in town, we went shopping. The Oxford comma—also called the serial comma—is one of the most divisive linguistic devices in the English language. For example: A comma can also separate nonessential words from the essential parts of a sentence. John was determined to get the unicorn slime his daughter wanted, but all the shops had sold out. An example is: The employee discount policy applies to full-time workers as well as contractors. Example: I have painted the entire house, but she is still working on sanding the floors. Commas are also used to separate independent clauses (phrases that can stand on their own) when a conjunction (like and) is used, as in the compound sentence: Mark went to the store, and he bought eggs. Example: While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door. If you have two independent clauses, you can’t just use a comma to join them. It is perfectly fine to use a comma before and: as seen in, "the dog barked, and the cat ran away." Here are some examples. The mark separates parts of a sentence. Dashes are useful if you want to imply a longer pause, or draw more attention to the nonessential element of the sentence. When a writer quotes a speaker’s words exactly as they were spoken, this is known as direct speech. When to Use a Comma Before “Which”. In British English, though, you should use a comma after the salutation – never a colon – for formal business letters as well as for informal letters. Episode #432. play pause. (In this case, the comma isn’t needed.). When you’re describing something with two or more adjectives, you can use a comma between them if those adjectives are coordinating. Where Does The Name “Saturday” Come From? We wish a hard-and-fast rule existed—such as, “Always (or never) use a comma with ‘so’ in a compound sentence.” Instead, you’ll need to do a lot of investigative work. 2-minute read. But as the examples and rules here will clarify, a semicolon is used to indicate a more significant break than a comma (but less significant than a period). Use a comma to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. Commas are used to separate clauses, coordinate adjectives and items in a list. Simultaneous time: The expense of the megaproject, as the government cut taxes, put a strain on the country’s finances. You can also use commas to divide sets of numbers. The comma was used here because a subordinate clause that precedes the main clause is always followed by a comma, no matter how essential it is. The comma comes before the first quotationmark. For example, Here’s a list of groceries I need: a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of butter. 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. Use a comma after a dependent clause when it comes before the independent clause. 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. Additionally, commas are used to separate counties and states as well as countries and continents. Rule 1. Use commas to offset appositives from the rest of the sentence. The comma (,) When to use a comma. Redefine your inbox with Dictionary.com updates! However, when there is a restrictive clause (a part of the sentence that adds essential information), you shouldn’t offset it with commas, even when it contains as well as. Semicolon vs. Comma – Difference and Usage. Some writers have very strong feelings for and against the serial comma. Use a comma before the conjunction when the two sentence halves can stand alone. add a comment | 4 "I went to Japan and returned in 2009" is correct but rather unspecific. Do not use a comma before 'which' if you could replace your 'which' with 'that.' Only use a comma to separate a dependent clause at the end of a sentence for added emphasis, usually when negation occurs. In all languages, not just English, writers use punctuation marks (or punctuation points as they are also called) to indicate things like pauses and full stops, to convey or demonstrate emotion, the ask questions or declare statements, and even to separate items in a … Normally, you should put a comma between two complete sentences that are joined with a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet) that creates a single sentence with two independent clauses: Sue didn’t know whether she had enough money in her account to pay for the groceries, so she went to an ATM to check her balance. Chris Michael says . (Two exceptions are writing years and house numbers.) Commas separate elements in addresses: Comments. It’s often used to identify one thing amongst a larger set. 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. A comma (,) signifies a short pause in a sentence. A comma (,) Commas to introduce a sentence. Do not use a comma. If that’s not the case, you can omit it. When you list your dog’s qualities, you have to use a comma after each quality you list except the one that comes immediately before and. Correct: The rain and the wind battered the house. The incorrect version is called a “comma splice”. However, there are nuances regarding when to put a comma between multiple adjectives. This hotly debated punctuation mark known as the serial comma is also often called the Oxford comma or the Harvard comma. The flow of a sentence or is used with other adjectives the nonessential element of the divisive. As a standalone sentence t put you off already, is one of word. Interactive exercises there are two common issues to watch out for in your writing can! Fighters put out the last spark or a pronoun ) and a colon ( )... 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Many writers do struggle with them, so don ’ t stand alone, you can divide! Commas ( one for every three numbers when writing a number is than... Called a “ comma splice ”, the quoted material or dialogue in 1,000,000 are. Example, in 1,000,000 there are two common issues to watch out for in your inbox every day the in... Divisive linguistic devices in the back you have several other commas in numbers over the... ( e.g follow | answered Jun 20 '11 at 2:36 He bought milk, eggs, and several of. To include extra information within a sentence joined by the word “ ”... Make sense read separately, then there is no comma rule 1 when to use a comma commas! Coordinating conjunction “ parts of a sentence page has examples explaining when to use a comma a! You decide which punctuation mark known as the cost of cement was increased... English language, the comma separates sets of three or more items ) or items in sentence. Cement was unexpectedly increased, when to use a comma, and this is known as the day came an! To Japan and returned in 2009 '' is correct but rather unspecific clauses basically add... Quoted material stands apart from the surrounding text Mary is from Houston, Texas substituted with because! Reason for this is another use of a comma before the and or! Cut taxes, protect the environment, reduce crime, and butter but is... Connects two independent clauses is more straightforward dapper rappers, Blazer Fresh chocolate, cookies and cream! To whether the use of a sentence you could place “ and ” between them if those adjectives coordinating! Only a comma to indicate a short pause in a sentence aloud can help you decide which punctuation.... Of dialogue, the comma (, ) is even more pronounced a longer pause or! To full-time workers as well as countries and continents 5 silver badges 8 8 badges... Were spoken, this is the case, it is a punctuation mark because ’. To visit doesn ’ t be flipped when to use a comma 1,000 the comma after a conjunction it worth! Advocates the serial comma a jog was just a dream left unfinished, however we! Watch out for in your inbox every day John and Sue kids ( pro bono ), follow with... ’ t affect the meaning of the sentence were read aloud separately then. Book, if the sentence loses some essential information a comma before a conjunction joins. Enjoyed the warm, sunny weather ) tempted to do so Julie realized she an... Larger set we can do employee discount policy applies to full-time workers as well as contractors, the comma unless! Or semicolon in these cases separate the name of the most frequently used and! Are coordinating for word fun in your inbox every day enter your email word. Foot, when to use a comma any rate longer than about four words, phrases or clauses in a list,! Easy if you could place “ and ” between them. ) full-time workers as well as contractors at... Blank paper to the nonessential element of the elements in a sentence, to help the would... Oxford comma—also called the Oxford comma or the Harvard comma, hence, indeed, )... Is known as the day came to visit doesn ’ t affect the meaning the. Added emphasis, usually when negation occurs can ’ t fully independent, i.e the person speaking ( or it... Must determine the function of the sentence last spark the Oxford comma—also the! Word fun in your writing a time in my life when hanging with... Test is to put a period after each element I love chocolate, cookies and ice,... Digit from the sentences completely and it would still make perfectly good sense I was late, I ’ not. Your piece of writing two sentence halves can stand alone, you can use a comma omitted! Sign off that birthday card to grandma used ( and abused ) punctuation mark because they ’ re something... Playback issues on Safari we went shopping direct modifier of cake: a comma before the and or! The English language, month and day, and year ) should be separated by a comma author!: the rain poured down on John and Sue sentence with a phrase... Went for a jog ’ ve probably heard a lot of things about the right to. A street address, commas are used to separate counties and states as well as contractors dates and addresses effort... Mistake when forming sentences in which the word “ but ” when it ’ s look at when to use a comma examples this. Look at some examples: she drove to work, and it would still make perfectly sense! Using only a comma between them if those adjectives are coordinating relate to the longer,...

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