How to Use Commas Correctly
The comma is one of the most used and abused marks in the English language.
10:48 05 April 2021
Relatively few people, including writers, use them correctly, so read on to find out how you should use commas and when you should ignore them.
The most commonly used punctuation mark is arguably the most abused. Editors often have to correct comma use, and few writers actually understand them completely. Being an essay writer I can say that the comma has several key functions, so read on to find out how to use commas correctly.
Commas are used to separate items in a list.
I like sheep, wool, and cats.
Here, the individual items are clearly separated, so everyone understands the components of the list. Complex lists may require the use of the semicolon.
There is a certain amount of debate about whether the comma between the final and penultimate items in a list is required. The example sentence uses a serial comma as I write in Chicago style, which requires it. The serial comma is not incorrect unless you are following a particular style, such as AP. In AP style, the sentence would be rewritten as:
I like sheep, wool, and cats.
Note the missing comma between “wool” and “and.” Whichever style you use, ensure it is consistent.
A parenthetical phrase is one that you can take out without affecting the sentence. For example:
Mr. Sheen looked around the kitchen, which was very messy, and gave a huge sigh.
The part between the commas is parenthetical. This means we can remove it and still have a logical and correct sentence.
Mr. Sheen looked around the kitchen and gave a huge sigh.
Note there is no comma between “kitchen” and “and.”
An introductory clause is an element that has broken away from the traditional sentence structure.
During the summer, I like to dance.
This sentence would normally be written as:
I like to dance during the summer.
This is the traditional subject (I), verb (like), and object (the summer) arrangement. A simple introductory clause can swap the subject and object around, and a comma is used to show that the subject is now at the front of the sentence.
Connecting Two Independent Clauses
An independent clause is a phrase that can be an entire sentence on its own. For example:
I like to eat sheep and stroke cats.
Here, “I like to eat sheep” could be a complete sentence without the second part of the sentence. This is an independent clause. “Stroke cats,” on the other hand, needs the first phrase to explain it, so it is a dependent clause.
Two independent clauses can be joined by a conjunction, which is a word such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Any free essay writer will tell that these words join things together. However, when using conjunction between two independent clauses, you need a comma.
I like to eat sheep, and I also like to stroke cats.
Note the comma between “sheep” and “and.” Because both sides of the conjunction (and) can be independent sentences without modification, they need that comma.
Commas with Quote Marks
In U.S. English, commas have to be placed inside quote marks regardless of whether they are part of the original quote. The same goes for any other punctuation except for semicolons and colons.
Commas with Which
That and which are two different terms that delineate restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses.
I like postboxes that are red.
This means I only like post boxes that are red. The implication is that some postboxes are not red, and I do not like those ones. This is a restrictive clause because it restricts the postboxes I like to those that are red.
I like postboxes, which are red.
Here, the implication is that all post boxes are red, and I like all postboxes. This is a nonrestrictive clause because it means I like all postboxes. The terms are subtly different, so reading up on that and which is essential.
These are some of the many uses that commas are put into. Correct comma use is vital to understanding how English works and how to improve your writing. Commas make writing clear, so read up and learn!
About the author: John J. Gregg is an experienced writer on essaywriter.nyc where he provides students with an opportunity to get high grades. Besides, He is fond of reading and playing the guitar. By the way, John dreams of traveling a lot and visiting as many countries as possible.