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An Important Piece of the Puzzle
How Do You Use the Comma?
The comma is the most abused form of
punctuation. When in doubt, leave out.
1. Use commas to separate words, phrases, and
clauses when there are three or more in a series.
Matilda can run, jump, and skip.
Clue: Can the word AND be substituted for the
comma? Then use the comma.
2. Use a comma to separate
independent clause (sentences)
in a compound sentence.
I like English, BUT it is difficult.
3. Use Comma to set off nouns of direct address.
Gertrude, I want you to know that Matilda
4. Use a noun to set off a word or phrase that
explains a preceding word.
Please ask your teacher, Mr. Crab, about
5. Use a comma to set off a
year when it is with a
month and date.
Julius was born June 25,
1954, in Canton, Illinois.
6. When the date identifies
the day of the week, the date
is set off with a comma.
On Thursday, August 25,
7. Use a commas to set off
the state when it identifies a
I live in Chicago, Illinois,
the home of the Cubs.
8. Use commas when
writing full addresses in
I live at 2345 Westchester
Blvd., Springfield, IL 62703
Do not use a comma between state and zip code.
9. Use commas to set off introductory phrases
that come at the beginning of a sentence.
Feeling anxious, George slowly stepped on the
10. Use a comma after a long
prepositional phrase or two short
On the seventh day of creation, God rested.
11. Use commas to set off nonrestrictive relative
clauses (not necessary to the meaning of the
sentence) from the rest of the sentence.
Which) Nonrestrictive (needs a
That man, who is standingis needed) is my son.
That) Restive (no comma by the door,
12. Use commas to set of
Jason is handsome, however, looks can be
13. Use commas to set off words such as yes, no,
well, when they are used independently.
Yes, it is a hot summer.
14. Use a comma to set off short quoted
sentences from the rest of the sentence.
Hamlet said, “To be or not to be.
That is the question.”
15. Use a comma to set off contrasting expressions.
School is in session during the week,
seldom on Saturday and Sunday.
16. Use a comma to prevent misreading.
Just a month before, Bill
accepted the promotion.
The semi-colon has a greater degree of separation than
the comma, but less than a period. A reader pauses
more than he/she would for a comma and less than
he/she would for a period, thus we have ( ; ).
1. Use a semi-colon to separate
independent clause (sentences) is a
compound sentence that are closed
conned in thought and not joined by a
After class, I went to the Pizza Hut;
then I graded papers for an hour.
2. Use a semi-colon to
separate independent clause if
there are commas within the
I wrote to George, Matilda, and
Gertrude; and Ellen notified
Jason by phone.
3. Use a semi-colon after an introduction that preceded
an explanation or an enumeration.
namely for instance
that is for example
Juan enjoys teaching English; namely he enjoys
literature and composition.
4. Use a semi-colon to separate the independent clauses
of a compound sentence when the nonrestrictive word is
a conjunctive adverb. Put a comma after the conjunctive
accordingly likewise besides nevertheless
consequently however hence otherwise
She will type the letters today; however, they
won’t be mailed until tomorrow.