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Rules for Commas
Rules for Commas
The comma is a
valuable, useful punctuation device because it separates the structural elements
of sentences into manageable segments. The rules provided here are those found
in traditional handbooks; however, in certain rhetorical contexts and for
specific purposes, these rules may be broken.
1. Use a comma to separate 2 independent clauses joined by
*when so means as a result
Jenny wants to help feed the poor, so she is planning on going to Africa this
The doctor would
like to see you, but he has been at the hospital all day.
When the 2 independent clauses are
very short, some people don't use commas. However, if you use a comma, it is
Joseph likes cheese cake, but Carol likes chocolate cake.
cheese cake but Carol likes chocolate cake.
2. If there is a list of three or more items, use a comma.
Mom bought grapes and
grapes, bananas, and strawberries.
If there are two or more adjectives in a row.
Tim is a
handsome, smart man.
4. When a dependent
clause, unnecessary word, or unnecessary phrase AND an independent clause
are put together, there is usually a comma.
Unless I see you, I
Though George is
president of the company, he can still be fired.
When Mei was in
Taiwan, she often wrote to me.
I won't go
unless I see you.
5. When an adjective clause is unnecessary, use commas.
The president of
the company, who is a Harvard graduate, plans on retiring at the end of
6. Use commas before a direct quote.
Mark said, “I loved
visiting China and Korea.”
7. A name or title that is used to address or call a person to attention.
When, Sir, you come
back to this hotel, I cannot guarantee you a room.
When the name is with
an important term of identification, don't use a comma.
8. A comma usually follows a transition word.
for a whole week.
got an A+.
Jake worked 12
hours a day. Consequently,
he earned enough money to travel the whole summer.
1-Don't use a
comma to separate the subject from the verb.
2-Don't put a
comma between the two verbs or verb phrases in a compound predicate.
3-Don't put a
comma between the two nouns, noun phrases, or noun clauses in a compound subject
or compound object.
4-Don't put a
comma after the main clause when a dependent (subordinate) clause follows it
(except for cases of extreme contrast).
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