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10/28/2015

Grammar Help: The Comma

We have focused on punctuation rules this month, and one mark in particular deserves a post of its own- the comma. Here are the rules for correct usage of our curly friend.

Using Commas in Lists

Use a comma to separate three or more elements in a series. Be sure to include the Oxford comma, the comma that comes before and in the series, to avoid confusion. For example: "I love to eat pizza, tacos, and ice cream."

Independent and Dependent Clauses

To connect two independent clauses, use a comma before the conjunction, not after. "I walked to the store, but it was so far away." Commas set off dependent clauses and introductory phrases from the main clause. "As I walked to the store, my legs began to tire."

Parenthetical Phrases and Commas

The same goes for parenthetical phrases within the sentence. "My main goal, to lose weight, is furthered by my determination to walk to the store."

Using Commas for Dates and Locations

Use commas to separate a city from state and country, and to set off the month and day from the year. "I visited Fairbanks, Alaska on January 15, 2015." The last comma is not necessary if you omit the day: "I visited Fairbanks in January 2015."

Commas and Nicknames

Commas also set off names, nicknames, and terms of endearment from the rest of the sentence, and to separate titles from names. "Mary, I walked by your house the other day and saw our old doctor, James Walker, M.D."

Commas and Interchangeable Adjectives

When you have two interchangeable adjectives, use a comma to separate them. "I have a big, tasty burger in front of me." If the adjectives are not interchangeable, do not use a comma. "I went to the majestic ski resort in Tahoe." We would not say, "the ski majestic resort," so we use no comma.

Commas and Quotation Marks

Use commas to separate quotations, before and after if the quotation is in the middle of the sentence. For example: John used to say, "Howdy doody, neighbors," to us every morning.

Commas for Asides and Contrast

Finally, you should use a comma to set off asides and expressions of contrast, overall to avoid confusion. "Outside, the house looks dilapidated," instead of "Outside the house looks dilapidated," which has a different meaning. Also to show contrast: "I like chocolate ice cream, not strawberry."

For Tutoring in Plano

You can get all the grammar help you need at The Tutoring Center in Plano. Our one-to-one tutoring programs are customized to your individual needs. Find out more about how to get help in writing, reading, math and more from our website. Call 469-277-8177 for a free diagnostic assessment.

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