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Comma Usage

Five Rules for Effective Comma Use


North Muskegon High School English Department 9/11/2013 1

Function
The function of the comma is to guide the reader easily through a sentence. Misplaced commas interfere a great deal with a sentences clarity.
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#1: Use a comma to separate items in a list. A list is comprised of three or more items.

Separate Items in a List

Steve Anna Katherine and Tom all bought tickets to the concert. Denises favorite foods are lasagna spaghetti and tacos.
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#2: Use a comma between two or more adjectives that describe the same noun.

Between Two or More Adjectives

Dans tall handsome friend wants to meet Jane. Kevin cut a small square hole in his sisters jacket.
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Recognize a Complete Sentence


The last three rules depend on your ability to recognize a complete sentence. To be complete, a sentence needs a subject, a verb, and it must express a complete thought.
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#3: Use a comma after introductory phrases. Introductory phrases are any phrase that can be taken off the beginning, but the sentence will still be complete.
After the game were just going home.

Comma after Introductory Phrase

Four days ago Eddie stopped smoking.


While you were sleeping your mom called.
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#4: This rule involves comma placement with conjunctions. Conjunctions are FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR,YET, & SO Use a comma before a conjunction ONLY IF the conjunction separates a complete sentence.
Nathan is 26 years old and teaches history. Nathan is 26 years old and he teaches history. Alexs dad called so now hes going home. Are you having chicken or fish?
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Comma before Conjunction

#5: This rule involves comma placement with nonessential elements in a sentence.

Commas with Nonessential Elements

A word or phrase is a nonessential element if it can be removed from the sentence and not change the meaning or make the sentence incomplete. Use a comma on both sides of a nonessential element.
Daves brother Mike runs the bait shop downtown.

Oh by the way I have to stop by the grocery store after work. Jenn went on vacation to Pleasant Springs which is in California.

North Muskegon High School English Department

9/11/2013

Allen Iverson
When you are finished with your test put down your pencil close the booklet and remain quiet until time is up.
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Allen Iverson
The large red ball rolled into the street and the toddler chased it. Fortunately the babysitter saw him and rescued the child from danger.
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Allen Iverson
Pam who is Shannons friend just won the lottery so she bought her parents a new house a boat and a car.
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