When should you use a comma and when you should not? This is the question to answer if you do not want to make terrible comma mistakes in your paper. The following highlights a quick guide on how you can use it properly.
Quick Guide to Commas
- Use the comma in separating independent clauses when it is being joined by coordinating conjunctions: but, for, and, yet, so, nor, or. For instance: “Yesterday was his sister’s birthday, so he took him out for a date.”
- Use the comma after introductory phrases, words and clauses before the main clause. For example: “Because his watch was broken, he was late for his class.”
- Use a pair of commas in the middle of the sentence in setting off clauses, words, and phrases that are not important to the meaning of a sentence.
- Do not use the comma in setting off important elements of a sentence, like clauses beginning with “that”. “That” after the noun is always important.
- Use the comma in separating three or more words, clauses or phrases. For example: “You are inspected, infected, selected and neglected.”
- Use the comma in separating 2 or more coordinate adjective describing the same noun.
- Use the comma in setting off phrases at end of sentence referring back to middle or beginning of a sentence.
- Use the comma in setting off geographical names
When Not to Use Comma
There are introductory elements that do not require a comma. Here are some instances that you should not use the comma:
- After restrictive appositive phrase
- After brief prepositional phrase
- To separate subject from predicate
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Comma should be used in some cases such as:
- Separating non-critical words, clauses, and phrases from main clauses. For example: “Turning slowly, he gazed at the window.”
- Adding phrases to the end of the sentence to mark distinct shift or pause. For example: “He stood frozen, while waves started washing over him.”
- Comments inserted into the sentence. For example: “She tried to say something to her friends but engrossed on what they are doing, they did not hear her.”
- When a conjunction joins 2 independent clauses. For example: “He suddenly moved, and the shadow disappeared.”
- Introduce a quotation. For example: “She heard a voice say, “Great world!”
Understanding the comma needs time because it is a little bit confusing, but the time you know its usage, you never have a hard time.