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Comma Guidelines for Clear Writing (with Examples)


Probably the most generally used punctuation marks, an errant comma could be the distinction between a whole sentence and a whole mess. On this publish, we’ll discover seven comma guidelines that can hold your writing concise and coherent.

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Earlier than we dive in, what’s a comma anyway? You may consider a comma as a lighter model of a interval. Whereas a interval ends a sentence full-stop, a comma is a smaller, softer pause. It could separate phrases, clauses, or concepts inside one sentence.

1. Two full sentences can solely be related with a comma when utilizing a coordinating conjunction.

A coordinating conjunction is a conjunction positioned between phrases, phrases, clauses, or sentences of equal rank. English has seven principal coordinating conjunctions — for, and, nor, however, or, but, so — that can be utilized to weave collectively two full sentences with a comma. You should use the mnemonic FANBOYS to recollect them.

Comma rules example: The Grateful Dead is my favorite band, I traveled 3,500 miles to see them in the Spring of 72’. Each of the above ideas are full sentences. Nevertheless, the shortage of one in every of our FANBOYS after the comma leads to a comma splice. The sentence is clunky with out the presence of a coordinating conjunction to hyperlink the 2 full ideas in a single sentence.

Comma rules: The Grateful Dead is my favorite band, so I traveled 3,500 miles to see them in the Spring of 72’.

That is extra prefer it! “So” is the coordinating conjunction that hyperlinks these two full sentences collectively. Each ideas may stand alone separated by a interval, however our FANBOYS enable us to hyperlink them along with the assistance of a comma. The Grateful Useless is your favourite band? It is sensible that you simply traveled thus far to see them.

2. Use a comma to hyperlink an incomplete sentence with a whole sentence.

An incomplete sentence doesn’t specific a completely shaped thought and might’t stand by itself. Nevertheless, you should use a comma to hyperlink an incomplete sentence with a completely shaped sentence that expounds upon and completes the thought. For instance:

Comma rules example: Even though I had work in the morning. I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.“Although I had work within the morning” is an incomplete sentence. Ending it with a interval makes it right into a cliffhanger of an unfinished thought, however a comma can save the day.

Comma rules: Even though I had work in the morning, I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.Using a comma and the next full sentence “I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Useless in Copenhagen.” make this right into a grammatically right sentence. One thing tells me you didn’t make it to work the subsequent day, although!

3. Use the Oxford comma.

The Oxford comma is a controversial subject on the planet of punctuation. There’s nice historic debate on whether or not the Oxford comma is critical, however we right here at HubSpot suggest utilizing it for accuracy and readability in your writing.

What’s the Oxford comma?
The Oxford comma is the ultimate comma in a listing of issues. For instance: I want a stapler, some rye bread, and a gallon of glue.

I don’t know what you possibly can be making, however that’s the right use of an Oxford comma in a listing of things. Right here’s one other instance:

Grammar comma rules: I watched a documentary about Babe Ruth, a New York City mobster, and the founder of New York-Style pizza.

This sentence states that you simply watched a documentary about three distinct and influential New Yorkers. The Oxford comma makes it clear that these are three totally different individuals. If we omit the Oxford comma, issues can get a bit of complicated:

Grammar comma rules: I watched a documentary about Babe Ruth, a New York City mobster and the founder of New York-style Pizza.Until Babe Ruth lived a secret lifetime of crime and thin-crust pizza, you possibly can see how the absence of the Oxford comma on this sentence may confuse readers. Whereas each variations of the sentence are technically right, we suggest the Oxford comma to make sure your sentences are freed from ambiguity.

4. Use a comma between two coordinate adjectives that describe the identical noun.

Coordinate adjectives are two or extra adjectives that describe the identical noun. Should you flip-flop your adjectives or pop an “and” in between them and the sentence nonetheless is sensible, then you definately’ve acquired coordinate adjectives. Should you’re utilizing coordinate adjectives, bear in mind to separate them with a comma.

Comma rules: The Grateful Dead make psychedelic, spontaneous music.Psychedelic and spontaneous are coordinate adjectives as a result of they collectively describe the noun, which is the music of the Grateful Useless. You may reverse the order or substitute the comma for an “and” and the sentence means the identical factor. We suggest utilizing a comma.

Comma rules examples: The Grateful Dead make psychedelic spontaneous music.

It is refined, however the sentence doesn’t move accurately and not using a comma between psychedelic and spontaneous.

5. Use a comma (or pair of commas) to separate non-essential data in a sentence.

Comma rules: My father-in-law, in a quest for the perfect rack of ribs, purchased a $10,000 Swiss-made barbecue. Though we admire the data, “in a quest for the proper rack of ribs” is non-essential to the primary level of the sentence, which is that my father-in-law spent manner an excessive amount of on his grill. You should use a single comma with the non-essential data at first of the sentence, or a pair of commas to rope it off within the center, however don’t neglect your commas when including extraneous element.

Comma rules example: My father-in-law in a quest for the perfect rack of ribs purchased a $10,000 Swiss-made barbecue.

With out commas to separate the non-essential data, the sentence is long-winded and grammatically incorrect. I’ll take a pair of commas with these ribs, please!

6. Ensure you place commas accurately when utilizing quotes.

Usually, you need to use a comma to introduce quotes or dialogue in a sentence.

Comma rules: The barista said, “We’re out of oat milk.”

Comma rules examples: The barista said “We’re out of oat milk.”

The rationale we want a comma on this instance is that the quoted materials is syntactically impartial, that means it stands aside from the encompassing sentence. Don’t be impolite! Introduce that mid-sentence quote with a comma.

Nevertheless, as there typically are within the English language, there are exceptions to this rule. If the quote blends into the encompassing sentence, typically with the usage of a conjunction, you possibly can omit the comma.

Grammar comma rules: The barista reminded me that “oat milk is not and has never been available at this establishment.”No comma is critical on this instance as a result of the quote blends into the sentence with the usage of the conjunction “that.”

7. Put a comma earlier than “whereas” to distinction two concepts.

If you’re utilizing “whereas” in a sentence to basically imply “though” or “whereas,” bear in mind to put a comma earlier than it to maintain the that means of your sentence clear.

Comma rules: Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes, while Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

Using “whereas” on this sentence permits us to distinction two BBQ ideologies.

Comma rules examples: Kansas City style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes while Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

With out the comma, the that means of whereas technically modifications to “concurrently,” which doesn’t make sense on this context.

Moreover, if you’re utilizing “whereas” at first of the sentence, you need to place a comma on the finish of the clause that it introduces.

Comma rules: While Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes, Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

Using a comma after the clause that “whereas” introduces permits us to retain the that means as “whereas” and distinction the 2 concepts.

comma rules list, 7 rules to follow

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