Commas, the little punctuation you can use correctly
BUILDINGBLOCKSDON’T FEAR THE COMMAS
COMMAS ARE SCREENSYou can look through themYou can’t get through them
WHERE DO THE COMMAS GO?General comma rule - use acomma where it makes sense andhelps to eliminate ambiguity.Main idea COMMA not important COMMA mainidea.Stuff COMMA the sentence.
STURG’S 14 COMMA RULES1. Use a comma before a conjunctionwhen they join the clauses of acompound sentence (this is optional - ifboth clauses are short and the meaningis clear without the comma)• We went to the movie, and we were surprised howviolent it was.
MORE COMMA RULES2. To separate an introductory clausefrom the main one• After all, commas are essential to clear writing.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE3. To set off words like yes and no,words in direct address, “transitionalwords”No, I don’t want to go swimming today.Thanks, honey, for taking out the garbage.This dinner, not surprisingly, was delicious.
STILL MORE COMMA RULES4. To set off a question at the end of astatement• We’re going out to dinner, aren’t we?
AND MORE5. To set off titles, addresses andyearsAmanda Sturgill, professor, said commas areconfusing.John Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., led the cheers.John Smith, 37, died of exhaustion.
YET MORE6. To set off contrasted sentenceelements.Navy blue, not powder blue, was the color ofchoice.7. To indicate omitted wordsMan, Wife Donate Thousands
AND MORE8. To separate words, phrases andclauses in a series (do not use the finalserial comma before a conjunction inmedia writing)• I will be serving cookies, cake, pie and ice cream.
LOOK! MORE COMMA RULES!9. To separate coordinate adjectives(test - can you substitute “and” for thecomma? If not, it is a compoundadjective requiring a hyphen)She sat on the ugly, brown couch.
LOTS OF PEOPLE MISS THIS ONE10. To set off a clause or phrase thatdisrupts the main clause• Jones, though not a graduate student himself, led aprotest for the rights of graduate students.
HEY, ENOUGH WITH THECOMMAS ALREADY!11. To set off non-essential clauses(hint - look for “Which.” If “that,” it’sessential)• The table, which has a broken leg, sits in thecorner.• My husband David teaches computer science (I’mnot polyandrous, so this is wrong!)
CALM DOWN, WE’RE ALMOST DONE12. To set off one-sentence directquotations from attributions.• “I hate grammar,” she said.• Smith said, “The sky is falling.”
HOT, FRESH COMMAS13. With party affiliations, academicdegrees, religious affiliationsAmanda Sturgill, Ph.D., loves them there commas.David Duchovny, M.A., left Yale to pursue acting.
I TOLD YOU THERE WERE 1414. To separate similar wordsLearning what good grammar is, is not easy.
WE HATES THE GRAMMAR PEOPLERules, schmules…Your mileage may varyOxford commas (the series ones)Coordinate adjectives**People fight hard over these. It’s not worth losingyour job over.