This is “Commas”, section 3.1 from the book Successful Writing (v. 1.0).
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One of the punctuation clues to reading you may encounter is the commaA punctuation mark that tells the reader when to pause or when a word is part of a list.. The comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause in a sentence or a separation of things in a list. Commas can be used in a variety of ways. Look at some of the following sentences to see how you might use a comma when writing a sentence.
You may notice a comma that appears near the beginning of the sentence, usually after a word or phrase. This comma lets the reader know where the introductory word or phrase ends and the main sentence begins.
Without spoiling the surprise, we need to tell her to save the date.
In this sentence, without spoiling the surprise is an introductory phrase, while we need to tell her to save the date is the main sentence. Notice how they are separated by a comma. When only an introductory word appears in the sentence, a comma also follows the introductory word.
Ironically, she already had plans for that day.
Look for the introductory word or phrase. On your own sheet of paper, copy the sentence and add a comma to correct the sentence.
When you want to list several nouns in a sentence, you separate each word with a comma. This allows the reader to pause after each item and identify which words are included in the grouping. When you list items in a sentence, put a comma after each noun, then add the word and before the last item. However, you do not need to include a comma after the last item.
We’ll need to get flour, tomatoes, and cheese at the store.
The pizza will be topped with olives, peppers, and pineapple chunks.
You can use commas to list both adjectives and nouns. A string of adjectives that describe a noun are called coordinating adjectivesA series of adjectives that come before the noun they describe.. These adjectives come before the noun they modify and are separated by commas. One important thing to note, however, is that unlike listing nouns, the word and does not always need to be before the last adjective.
It was a bright, windy, clear day.
Our kite glowed red, yellow, and blue in the morning sunlight.
On your own sheet of paper, use what you have learned so far about comma use to add commas to the following sentences.
Commas are sometimes used to separate two independent clauses. The comma comes after the first independent clause and is followed by a conjunction, such as for, and, or but. For a full list of conjunctions, see Chapter 2 "Writing Basics: What Makes a Good Sentence?".
He missed class today, and he thinks he will be out tomorrow, too.
He says his fever is gone, but he is still very tired.
On your own sheet of paper, create a compound sentence by combining the two independent clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction.
The presentation was scheduled for Monday. The weather delayed the presentation for four days.
He wanted a snack before bedtime. He ate some fruit.
The patient is in the next room. I can hardly hear anything.
We could go camping for vacation. We could go to the beach for vacation.
I want to get a better job. I am taking courses at night.
I cannot move forward on this project. I cannot afford to stop on this project.
Patrice wants to stop for lunch. We will take the next exit to look for a restaurant.
I’ve got to get this paper done. I have class in ten minutes.
The weather was clear yesterday. We decided to go on a picnic.
I have never dealt with this client before. I know Leonardo has worked with them. Let’s ask Leonardo for his help.
In conversations, you might interrupt your train of thought by giving more details about what you are talking about. In a sentence, you might interrupt your train of thought with a word or phrase called interrupting wordsWords or phrases that describe a noun, separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. Interrupters can come before or after the noun they describe.. Interrupting words can come at the beginning or middle of a sentence. When the interrupting words appear at the beginning of the sentence, a comma appears after the word or phrase.
If you can believe it, people once thought the sun and planets orbited around Earth.
Luckily, some people questioned that theory.
When interrupting words come in the middle of a sentence, they are separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. You can determine where the commas should go by looking for the part of the sentence that is not essential for the sentence to make sense.
An Italian astronomer, Galileo, proved that Earth orbited the sun.
We have known, for hundreds of years now, that the Earth and other planets exist in a solar system.
On your own sheet of paper, copy the sentence and insert commas to separate the interrupting words from the rest of the sentence.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
You also use commas when you write the date, such as in cover letters and e-mails. Commas are used when you write the date, when you include an address, and when you greet someone.
If you are writing out the full date, add a comma after the day and before the year. You do not need to add a comma when you write the month and day or when you write the month and the year. If you need to continue the sentence after you add a date that includes the day and year, add a comma after the end of the date.
The letter is postmarked May 4, 2001.
Her birthday is May 5.
He visited the country in July 2009.
I registered for the conference on March 7, 2010, so we should get our tickets soon.
You also use commas when you include addresses and locations. When you include an address in a sentence, be sure to place a comma after the street and after the city. Do not place a comma between the state and the zip code. Like a date, if you need to continue the sentence after adding the address, simply add a comma after the address.
We moved to 4542 Boxcutter Lane, Hope, Missouri 70832.
After moving to Boston, Massachusetts, Eric used public transportation to get to work.
Greetings are also separated by commas. When you write an e-mail or a letter, you add a comma after the greeting word or the person’s name. You also need to include a comma after the closing, which is the word or phrase you put before your signature.
I would like more information about your job posting.
Dear Mrs. Al-Sayf,
Thank you for your letter. Please read the attached document for details.
On your own sheet of paper, use what you have learned about using commas to edit the following letter.
March 27 2010
14 Taylor Drive Apt. 6
New Castle Maine 90342
Dear Mr. Timmons
Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I am available on Monday the fifth. I can stop by your office at any time. Is your address still 7309 Marcourt Circle #501? Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.
On your own sheet of paper, use what you have learned about comma usage to edit the following paragraphs.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.