Conquering Commas


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Presentation on the use of the comma.

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Conquering Commas

  1. 1. Conquering Commas University of South Florida-Ian Rylott ENC 1102 Spring 2009
  2. 2. Proofreading • While proofreading you will want to also consider all commas in your document. Here are some things to look for which I will also go into more detail about in slides to come.  Compound sentences.  Comma splices.  Introductory commas.  Disruptive commas.  Run-on sentences or fused sentence.
  3. 3. FANBOYS • A valuable mnemonic tool to help remember coordinating conjunctions is FANBOYS.  For  And  Nor  But  Or  Yet  So
  4. 4. Compound Sentences • Skim your paper, looking only for the seven coordinating conjunctions: • Stop at each of these words to see whether there is an independent clause (a complete sentence), on both sides of it. • If so, place a comma before the coordinating conjunction. Examples:  She wanted to buy a new car, but she didn't have enough money to do so.  The wind blew fiercely, and the rain poured down.  Alaska was not the last state admitted into the US, nor does it have the lowest total population. (Purdue)
  5. 5. Comma Splices • Stop at every comma. • See whether you have an independent clause (a sentence) on both sides of the comma. • If so, change the sentence in one of the following ways:  reword the sentence to change one clause into a subordinate (or dependent) clause  add a coordinating conjunction after the comma  replace the comma with a semicolon  replace the comma with a period, question mark, or exclamation point, and capitalize the first word of the second clause comma splice:  incorrect: Americans speak too rapidly, this is a common complaint by foreign visitors. correct: Americans speak too rapidly; this is a common complaint by foreign visitors. correct: Foreign visitors commonly complain that Americans speak too rapidly. (Purdue)
  6. 6. Introductory Commas • Skim your paper, looking only at the first word or two of each sentence. • Stop if the word or phrase . . .  ends in -ing  is an infinitive (to + verb)  is an introductory word (well, yes, moreover, etc.) • Place a comma at the end of the introductory phrase. Examples:  To get a good grade, you must turn in all your homework problems.  Walking to work, Jim stopped for coffee at the diner.  Yes, I agree that the exam was difficult.
  7. 7. Introductory Commas • If the sentence begins with a prepositional phrase (a phrase beginning with in, at, on, between, with, etc.), place a comma after the prepositional phrase if it is longer than three words or suggests a distinct pause before the main clause. Examples:  On his way to work, Jim stopped for coffee at the diner. In those days we wrote with a pen and paper. Across the street from the library, an old man waited for a bus. (Purdue)
  8. 8. Introductory Commas after Dependent Clauses • Skim your paper, looking only at the first two or three words of each sentence. • Stop if one of these words is a dependent marker such as while, because, when, if, after, when, etc. • If necessary, place a comma at the end of the introductory dependent clause. Examples:  While I was writing, the phone rang.  Because the weather was bad, we decided to cancel our planned picnic.  After the last guests left the party, we had to begin cleaning the house. (Purdue)
  9. 9. Disruptive Commas • If you don’t need the comma then don’t use it. • Between subjects • Between compound and verbs verbs or objects  disruptive comma:  disruptive comma: That man sitting in the They bought two train station, is the pizzas, but ate only person I'm supposed one. to meet.  correct: They bought  correct: That man two pizzas but ate sitting in the train only one. station is the person I'm supposed to meet. (Purdue)
  10. 10. Run-on Sentences • A RUN-ON SENTENCE (sometimes called a quot;fused sentencequot;) has at least two parts, either one of which can stand by itself (in other words, two independent clauses), but the two parts have been smooshed together instead of being properly connected. Example:  Please be in your seat when the bell rings, as class begins at that time. (ccc)
  11. 11. Run-on Sentences • These are inappropriate ways to join sentences together because readers need a signal that one main clause is ending and another is beginning. • If the correct signal is not present, a reader can become momentarily confused, and the sequence of ideas will become difficult to follow. In essence, the sentences will crash. (SCS)
  12. 12. Online Resources • Hopefully this short presentation was helpful to you. However, there are millions of online resources to help you if further questions arise. A few of these are my references on the next slide. • Here are a few just to save you time.      of.html   
  13. 13. References The Writing Lab, The OWL at Purdue, & Purdue University. (2004). Proofreading for commas. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from S.E. Smith, Wisegeek. What is a comma splice? Retrieved April 22, 2009, from The Guide To Grammar & Writing, Capital Community College Foundation. Run-on Sentences, Comma Splices. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from LEO: Literacy Education Online, St. Cloud State University. (2004). Avoiding Comma Splices, Fused Sentences, and Run-Ons. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from