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Commas Rule! 1. Grammar A punctuation mark (, ) used to indicate a separation of ideas or of elements within the structure of a sentence. 2. A pause or separation; a caesura.
1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by: AND, BUT, FOR, OR, NOR. The game was over, but the crowd refused to leave.
2. Use commas to separate words, phrases, and clauses written in a series of THREE or more coordinate elements. A trio of Marie, Ellen, and Frances sang at the entertainment. Jack walked into my office, took off his hat, and sat down.
3. Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe or modify the same noun. (Coordinate adjectives can be interchanged.) The noisy, enthusiastic group applauded the speech. (the group is noisy and enthusiastic or enthusiastic and noisy.) BUT: The new tennis court will soon be open. (The court is not new and tennis.)
. Use commas in the BEGINNING of the sentence after an introductory clause or phrase which has a verb or verb form. Hearing his owner call him, the dog ran forward. While I was reading, the cat scratched at the door. If you want a seat, you ought to arrive by 7:30 p.m. My schedule having been arranged, I went home for the week-end.
5. Use commas at the BEGINNING of the sentence to set off exclamations or comments such as "yes," "no," "well," "oh," etc. Yes, I'll think about it.
6. Use commas in the MIDDLE of the sentence to set off phrases and clauses which are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use these commas in pairs, one before the phrase or clause to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause. Sara Clark, who lives in my dorm, is in my chemistry class. (comma #1 at the beginning) (comma #2 at the end) BUT, commas are NOT used in this "who" clause because it is a necessary part of the sentence. The girl who is sitting at the table next to you is in my chemistry class. Use a pair of commas in a similar manner: -To set off nonessential appositives (phrases which identify a noun). Tom, the captain of the team, was injured in the game. The person injured in the game was Tom, the captain of the team. -To set off words or names used in direct address. It is up to you, Jane, to finish the assignment. -To set off nonessential comments which interrupt the sentence. I was, however, too tired to make the trip.
7. Use commas near the END of the sentence to separate sharply contrasted coordinate elements in the sentence. He was merely ignorant, not stupid.
8. Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), addresses (except the street name and number), and titles in names. Birmingham, Alabama, gets its name from Birmingham, England. July 22, 1967, was a momentous day in his life. Who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.? Donald B. Lake, M.D., will be the principal speaker.
9. Use commas after "he said," etc. to set off direct quotations. John said, "I'll see you tomorrow." "I was able," she answered, "to complete the assignment this morning."
10. Use commas to prevent possible confusion or misreading. To John, Harrison had been a sort of idol. Above, the mountains rose like purple shadows.
Comma vs. Semicolon THE COMMA VS. THE SEMICOLON IN THE COMPOUND SENTENCE A group of words containing a subject and a verb and expressing a complete thought is called a sentence or an independent clause. Sometimes, an independent clause stands alone as a sentence, and sometimes two independent clauses are linked together into one sentence which is called a compound sentence. There are two different marks of punctuation which can be used between these independent clauses: the comma and the semicolon. The choice is yours.
THE COMMA Use a comma after the first independent clause when you choose to link the two independent clauses with any one of these words: AND BUT FOR OR NOR (and sometimes SO and YET) I am going home, and I intend to stay there. It rained heavily during the afternoon, but we managed to have our picnic anyway.
THE SEMICOLON Use the semicolon when you choose to join two independent clauses together with NO connecting words. I am going home; I intend to stay there. It rained heavily during the afternoon; we managed to have our picnic anyway.
THE SEMICOLON Use the semicolon when you join two independent clauses together with one of those long connecting words such as: HOWEVER, MOREOVER, THEREFORE, CONSEQUENTLY, OTHERWISE, NEVERTHELESS, THUS, etc. I am going home; moreover, I intend to stay there. It rained heavily during the afternoon; however, we managed to have our picnic anyway. Put this in your notebook, and use it! Put this in your notebook; use it!
THE APOSTROPHE THE APOSTROPHE POSSESSIVE NOUNS ALWAYS TAKE APOSTROPHES.
POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS (such as MY, YOUR, THEIR, HER, ITS, YOURS, THEIRS, OURS, HERS, HIS, etc.) NEVER take apostrophes. His car is outside. That dog is theirs. The cat hurt its paw.
CONTRACTIONS ALWAYS TAKE APOSTROPHES. (Contractions combine two words into one. The apostrophe shows that a letter has been left out.) 1) it is = it's 2) he does not = he doesn't 3) she is going = she's going 4) 1963 = '63 For clarity, plurals of letters of the alphabet, abbreviations, and numbers also take apostrophes
Independent Clause An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought. An independent clause is a sentence. Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz.
Dependent Clause A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought. A dependent clause cannot be a sentence. Often a dependent clause is marked by a dependent marker word. WhenJimstudiedin the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz When Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz... (What happened when he studied? The thought is incomplete.)
Dependent Marker Word A dependent marker word is a word added to the beginning of an independent clause that makes it into a dependent clause. When When Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz, it was very noisy.
Connecting dependent and independent clauses Coordinating Conjunction: FANBOYS! and, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet. The seven coordinating conjunctions used as connecting words at the beginning of an independent clause are and, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet. When the second independent clause in a sentence begins with a coordinating conjunction, a comma is needed before the coordinating conjunction:, but Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz, but it was hard to concentrate because of the noise.
Independent Marker Word An independent marker word is a connecting word used at the beginning of an independent clause. These words can always begin a sentence that can stand alone. When the second independent clause in a sentence has an independent marker word, a semicolon is needed before the independent marker word. however Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz; however, it was hard to concentrate because of the noise. Some common independent markers are: also, consequently, furthermore, however,moreover, neverth eless, and therefore.
Fused Sentence A sentence in which two or more independent clauses are not properly joined by a semicolon or conjunction. Also called run-on sentence.
Examples Incorrect: Incorrect: My professor is intelligent I've learned a lot from her. Correct: Correct: My professor is intelligent. I've learned a lot from her. (or) My professor is intelligent; I've learned a lot from her. (or) My professor is intelligent, and I've learned a lot from her. (or) My professor is intelligent; moreover, I've learned a lot from her.
Comma Splices A comma splice is the use of a comma between two independent clauses. You can usually fix the error by changing the comma to a period and therefore making the two clauses into two separate sentences, by changing the comma to a semicolon, or by making one clause dependent by inserting a dependent marker word in front of it.
Examples (Wrong!) I like this class, it is very interesting. (Wrong!) Correct: Correct: I like this class. It is very interesting. (or) I like this class; it is very interesting. (or) I like this class, and it is very interesting. (or) I like this class because it is very interesting. (or) Because it is very interesting, I like this class.
Sentence Fragments Sentence fragments happen by treating a dependent clause or other incomplete thought as a complete sentence. You can usually fix this error by combining it with another sentence to make a complete thought or by removing the dependent marker.
Examples Incorrect: Incorrect: Because I forgot the exam was today. Correct: Correct: Because I forgot the exam was today, I didn't study. (or) I forgot the exam was today.
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