2 Do commas really matter? Consider this joke from Truss:A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
3 PunchlinePanda:“Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”As the author says: “So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.”
4 Comma confusion and the inclusion illusion Commas have power over us because of common misperceptions:Long sentences must need a commaIf you can’t “hear” a comma, one isn’t neededIf you pause in a sentence, a comma is neededWhile these are sometimes reliable indicators, learning some common rules can make you a confident comma dropper.
5 What’s a comma good for? Behold the power of the comma….. Commas have a number of functions when used correctly:Separate elements in a sentenceAdd emphasisHelp achieve sentence varietyOverall, commas clarify, or make clear, our ideas.
6 Common comma functions Rules reviewed include commas with:Compound sentencesItems in a seriesIntroductory elementsDirect QuotationAppositivesDirect AddressInterruptersAdjectivesDates, Addresses, and Letters
7 Comma with Introductory Elements Use a comma to separate an introductory word or phrase from the rest of a sentence.Whether a word, phrase, expression, or clause, a comma is used with introductory elements.For example:Quickly, the students rushed toward the door.In her book, Truss uses humor to cover grammar rules.Kicking and giggling, the girls were in fits of laughter.Because he couldn’t play, Max didn’t go to the game.
8 Commas in Compound Sentences Use a comma before the conjunction that joins the pats of a compound sentenceA compound sentence contains two or more parts that could stand alone as complete sentences. The parts are joined together with a coordinating conjunction such as and, or, nor, but, so, or yet.The class began at noon, but he didn’t come until one.My boss and I don’t get along, so we avoid each other.Lisa went to the bank, and she withdrew fifty dollarsNote: the easiest way to determine if a clause is independent is to see if it could stand alone as a complete sentence.
9 Watch out for compound construction Do not confuse compound sentences with compound sentence parts. In a compound sentence, each main part has both a subject and a verb.Compound Sentence: Hector ran for class president, and he won.Compound Sentence Parts: Hector ran for class president and won.
10 Commas in a SeriesA series is a group of three or more items listed within a sentence. The commas should appear after each item in the series except the last.Words in a series: In the ape house were gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans.Phrases in a series: The baby chimpanzee walked to the window, pressed its nose against the glass, and stared at us.Sentence in a series: We stared back, the chimpanzee chattered, and Mom videotaped the scene.
11 Commas with Adjectives Use commas between two or more adjectives of equal rank that modify the same noun.Mark has a weakness for dreamy, romantic songs.They are neat, tidy people.Note: To determine whether two adjectives are equal in rank, place the word AND between them. If the AND sounds natural, and if you can change the order of the adjectives without changing the meaning of the sentence, then use a comma.
12 Commas with Introductory Elements Use a comma to separate an introductory word or phrase from the rest of a sentence.Well, have you pitched the tent yet?Looking for a snack, several raccoons raided our campsite.Quickly, the students rushed toward the door.In her book, Truss uses humor to cover grammar rules.Kicking and giggling, the girls were in fits of laughter.Because he couldn’t play, Max didn’t go to the game.
13 Commas with Interrupters Use a comma before and after a word or group of words that interrupts a sentence.Anything that appears to “interrupt” or show contrast somewhere in the sentence should be set off with commas.This, my friend, is the best story you’ve ever written.Ms. Heilbrun mentioned, by the way, that she is accepting submissions to the school literary magazine.No, she did not attend class last week.She did, however, find time to go to Cancun.
14 Commas in Direct Address Use a comma to set off nouns used in direct address.Dr. Jarrow, can you explain why the coral reefs are dying?Well, Susan, the widespread destruction of the coral reefs is due largely to human interference.
15 Commas with Appositives An appositive is a word or group of words that renames a noun or pronoun in a sentence. Appositives are almost always set off with commas and can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.My two favorite states, Rhode Island and Maine, are on the East Coast.Van Gogh, my favorite painter, often loaded his brush with more than one color in order to make multicolored brush strokes.A dedicated teacher, Ms. James, was awarded on Friday.Nigeria is home to the Ogonis, a minority tribe.
16 Commas in QuotationsA direct quotation is a quotation that uses the exact words of the speaker.A speaker’s tag, such as she replied or Jason said, may come before, after, or in the middle of the quotation. If the speaker’s tag comes first, put the comma immediately after it.Sandra Cisneros wrote, “You can never have too much sky.”If the speaker’s tag comes last, put the comma inside the quotation marks that end the quotation.“You can never have too much sky,” wrote Sandra CisnerosIf the speaker’s tag comes in the middle of the quotation, use commas both before (inside the quotation marks) and after the speaker’s tag.A man can be destroyed,” said Ernest Hemingway, “but not defeated.”
17 Commas in Dates, Addresses, and Letters Use commas to separate the parts of dates and addresses.Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849.The space probe will reach Alpha Centauri on June 5, 2011.Use a comma between a city and a state.I was born in Peru, Indiana.Use a comma after the salutation of a friendly letter.Dear Jan,Use a comma after the closing of a friendly or business letter.Your pal, Sincerely yours,
18 Comma PracticeIn your notebooks, rewrite and provide commas as needed in the following sentences. If a sentence does not need a comma, write “C” for “Correct”. Jot down which rule applies for each comma you use. If you are struggling with one, give it your best try and star it! When we review in class, we can discuss the rule further.
19 PracticeBecause she has been working so hard in math she expects to earn a high grade.Tony has without a doubt been the most faithful visitor; however my sister and cousin have also gone to the hospital on a regular basis. Because of my job I have not been able to see him as much.I like to watch television attend films and read but what I enjoy most are concerts.John you can send the package to me at 444 Wise Avenue Seattle Washington.
20 PracticeI knew the answers because I had studied so hard and listened carefully in class.John said “I’ll never understand why students pay to attend classes and then never show up. It seems at the very least that they would withdraw to avoid receiving an F but many of them don’t.”No one in my family except for my grandmother knows how to make rabbit stew.My cousin a vegetarian has always been healthy and energetic. In fact he still drives and lives on his own at the age of 88 which is remarkable.
21 PracticeThe new roof will be put on next week and the house will be painted soon but the driveway which has a few cracks won’t be repaired until next month.My friend Ann won a scholarship to Kent State and will major in business.Beth my two-year-old is very curious so I have to keep a close eye on her.Two others in class not just you complained about the annoying buzz from that light.