How do I know when I need to use a comma?
Important information about commas
- Commas are the most used and misused punctuation for beginning college writers.
- Commas are used to signal and pause.
- Commas help to make a sentence’s meaning clearer, but if used carelessly, can cloud the meaning entirely.
- The comma was invented to help readers understand run ons and smushed together sentence parts.
Follow these rules and you will begin to use commas correctly.
Put a comma before a coordinating conjunction when it connects two independent clauses.
: Our plane was late, so we ate dinner.
Put a comma between items in a series and coordinate adjectives.
: I’m taking math, science, and reading. : Use the large, red pen.
Some words seem to go togther, so do not need a comma:
: She is a sweet little old lady.
Put a comma after an introductory expression (word clause, phrase) that does not flow smoothly into the sentence.
: Yes, I have visited New York City. : Although I like reading, I watched a movie instead. : For example, dogs might be a better choice than hampsters.
Put commas around the name of a person being addressed (direct address).
: Look, Derek, I do not care for your attitude. : Kim, would you hand me that piano? : Would you get me a Coke, darling?
Put commas around expressions that interrupt the flow of the sentence.
: I think, of course, that she is the best person for the job.
Put commas around non-restrictive information, or nonessential information. If the information is removed, it will not change the meaning of the sentence.
- George W. Bush, the President of the United States, will speak tonight.
Use commas with date, addresses, tittles,and numbers.
- On December 31, 1956, Peter was Born. I was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in the 1980's. Bill Barnes, M.D., performed my knee surgery.
Use commas to set off conjunctive adverbs.
: Over one million people in Atlanta wanted tickets to the big game. Their access to the Super Bowl, however, was a chance in a million.
Use commas with coordinate adjectives.
: After the NASDAQ bubble burst in 2000 and 2001, the Internent technology companies that remain are no longer the fresh-faced, giddy kids of Wall Street.
[Daily Grammer 1] [Daily Grammer 2]
Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin's, 2003.
Hult, Christine A., Thomas N. Huckin. THe New Century Hand Book. New York: Pearson Eeucation, Inc, 2005.
Faigley, Lester. "The Brief Penguin Handbook." New York: Pearson Education, Inc, 2003