Comma Rule 2


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This handy rule will help you punctuate sentences with and, but, and other coordinating conjunctions.

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Comma Rule 2

  1. 1. Writing Better Sentences: Comma Rule 2 by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Writing Better Sentences: Comma Rule 2 by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  3. 3. English teachers call them coordinating conjunctions...
  4. 4. …but we can also call them “the Magnificent Seven.”
  5. 5. Another name for them is the FANBOYS words. It’s easy to see where that name comes from.
  6. 6. They’re the words for Comma Rule 2. It’s a handy rule you’ll probably use almost every day.
  7. 7. Comma Rule 2 Examples
  8. 8. You should keep all seven FANBOYS words handy. But most of the time you’ll use only two of them: and but
  9. 9. Comma Rule 2 is all about the number “2.” You’re joining 2 sentences…
  10. 10. And most of the time you’ll be using only 2 words: and but
  11. 11. Let’s look at some Comma Rule 2 sentences:
  12. 12. Notice that and or but joins each pair of sentences:
  13. 13. Here are more sentence pairs joined by and or but and a comma:
  14. 14. You must have TWO sentences to use the comma.
  15. 15. If you don’t have two sentences, don’t use the comma.
  16. 16. Are there two sentences? No—just one. “Ran across the field” isn’t a sentence.
  17. 17. Now you have two sentences: “he ran across the field” IS a sentence.
  18. 18. Remember: You need 2 sentences if you’re going to use a comma.
  19. 19. Take a look at these examples. “Didn’t find any” isn’t a sentence. “I didn’t find any” is a sentence.
  20. 20. Take a look at these examples. “Didn’t see anyone” isn’t a sentence. Neither is “saw bloodstains on the carpet.”
  21. 21. Try this one yourself. Which sentence needs a comma?
  22. 22. Answer: The second one. It has two sentences joined by and. “Saw that Habib was telling the truth” isn’t a sentence.
  23. 23. Take a look at these. Which one needs a comma?
  24. 24. Answer: The first one. “Bruises on his left cheek” isn’t a sentence. “There were bruises on his left cheek” IS a sentence.
  25. 25. There are a few more things you need to know.
  26. 26. The FANBOYS words (the “Magnificent Seven”) are the ONLY words that join sentences with commas.
  27. 27. Don’t try to use other words to join sentences. They won’t do the job.
  28. 28. If you don’t have a FANBOYS word, a comma won’t do the job. Use a period instead.
  29. 29. Remember: If you don’t have a FANBOYS word, a comma won’t work. Use a period.
  30. 30. Here are a few more examples.
  31. 31. Let’s review. Comma Rule 2 is about joining 2 sentences with a comma and a FANBOYS word.
  32. 32. The FANBOYS words are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Most of the time you’ll be using and and but.
  33. 33. Make sure you know what a sentence looks like. “I drove my car” is a sentence. “Drove my car” is not.
  34. 34. Remember: If it’s not a FANBOYS word, it can’t join two sentences with a comma.
  35. 35. Let’s try one more example. Which one needs a comma?
  36. 36. Answer: The second one. “Called 911” isn’t a sentence.
  37. 37. Looking for and and but, and thinking about Comma Rule 2, is a great way to improve your writing skills.
  38. 38. And there you have it!
  39. 39. You can learn more about commas at
  40. 40. All the resources there are FREE:
  41. 41. And if you’re looking for a low-cost, practical book…
  42. 42. Criminal Justice Report Writing is available from for just $19.95. View a free sample online.
  43. 43. An e-book edition is available from for only $9.99.
  44. 44. A discount price is available for class sets (minimum five books). A free Instructor’s Manual is available for instructors and administrators. Send an e-mail request from your official account to jreynoldswrite at