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Punctuation: Commas

Sep 1, 2022

What Are They?

A comma is a punctuation mark. They have many functions. They are used:  

  • To avoid confusion 
  • To separate items in a list 
  • To separate direct speech from a reporting clause 
  • Instead of brackets to show additional information 
  • To separate main (independent) and subordinate (dependent) clauses.  

To avoid confusion in writing.  

  • Let’s eat, Grandma 
  • Let’s eat Grandma  
  • The first sentence (A sweet family dinner) 
  • The second sentence (A horror show of a dinner with Grandma as the food) 
  • Let’s drive Jake (Incorrect. We are not driving Jake!) 
  • Let’s drive, Jake (Correct!) 

To separate items in a list 

  • We have apples, oranges, apricots, avocadoes, watermelons, etc. 
  • I will study punctuation, preposition, conjunction and adjectives this week. 
  • Kirk bought us popcorn, ice cream, and donuts.  

To separate direct speech from a reporting clause 

  • As Timothy was leaving, he yelled out, “I’ll be back!” 
  • “Paula, we can do the homework together,” said Amanda. 
  • “Come here,” said Jonathan Land, “and bring the lawn mower.”    

To separate adjectives that qualify the same noun  

  • My favorite sports are football, basketball, baseball, racing, and horse riding. 
  • The lion has long, sharp claws. 
  • The puppy has such small, cute paws. 
  • Alex is a kind, wonderful person. 
  • Greta was young, beautiful, kind, and intelligent.  

Instead of brackets to show additional information  

  • James, a hot-tempered person, is not the one we should be asking for help. 
  • Sushi, a type of food, is very popular around here.  

To separate an independent and dependent clause, or to separate adverbial phrases from a main clause.  

  • Jake stopped arguing, as he realized that there was no point. 
  • Before she opened the door, Samantha could hear the excited voices of the children 


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