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A Practical Guide to Using Commas Correctly in Your Writing

Commas feature prominently in written work and knowing when to use one is necessary for coherent writing. A comma helps break down the sentence into simple segments. Sometimes it is difficult to find the appropriate place to put a comma, even for seasoned writers. Here are a few tips to ensure you use commas correctly in your writing.

Use a Comma After an Introductory Word or Phrase

An introductory word or phrase comes before the main clause to provide the reader with more information. An introductory phrase lacks a subject and a verb. When the phrase is short, comprising four words or less, comma use is optional. For longer phrases, you need to use one. Commas should also follow introductory words. They include adverbs, names, interjections, and the words “yes” and “no.” 

Short Introductory Phrase (correct with or without a comma)

Example:

In the evening we packed and left the studio.

In the evening, we packed and left the studio.

Long Introductory Phrase (used with a comma)

Example:

On the morning before her graduation, her father surprised her with a new car.

Introductory Words (used with a comma)

Example:

Suddenly, there was a loud bang on the door. (after an introductory adverb)

Ouch, that was painful. (after an exclamation/interjection)

Thomas, you need to stop doubting. (after a name)

Yes, I went to visit my grandmother. (as an affirmation)

Use a Comma Before Professional or Academic Title

Acquiring a professional or academic title is no mean feat. It takes dedication and hard work. At times you might even need help from a domyessay.com for me service to achieve your goals. It is only fair to know how to punctuate these qualifications correctly. When the title follows an individual’s name, you need to use a comma.

Example:

Qunicy Perry, MD, is the lead doctor at Metropolitan Hospital.

Christian Timberlake, Ph.D., will address the students shortly.

Please take note:

  • Academic degree abbreviations should not have spaces;
  • You only need to list an individual’s highest qualification in credentials.

Use a Comma Before a Coordinating Conjunction

Coordinating conjunctions are joining words, usually connecting two verbs, two nouns, two independent clauses, and non-restrictive modifiers. Some examples include and, or, yet, for, but, nor, and so

Examples:

She has been working hard, so it came as no surprise when she bought a house. (with two independent clauses)

She likes cooking, swimming, and shopping. (combining two verbs)

Trevor bought clothes, shoes, and sweaters. (combining two nouns)

I might take your offer, or I may reject it. (non-restrictive modifier)

It is not necessary to use a comma where short clauses are involved.

Example: (acceptable with or without a comma)

Tracy cooked meat and John mopped the house.

Tracy cooked meat, and John mopped the house.

Put a Comma Between Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions exist in pairs and relate one part of a sentence to another. They join nouns or clauses. When used with nouns, you do not need a comma, but you need to use one when joining complete clauses.

Examples:

either/or

You can eat either chicken or beef. (nouns)

Either the engineers will build a bridge, or the villagers will have to continue using boats. (complete clauses)

Use a Comma to Separate Coordinate Adjectives

Adjectives modify a sentence’s nouns. Coordinate adjectives usually refer to one noun and have a comma separating them. When these adjectives are split with a conjunction “and,” the meaning remains the same.

Example:

The broken, wooden chair lays on the ground. (You can say “the broken chair” or “the wooden chair”)

Use a Comma to Separate Address Elements and Dates

You will need to write a correct address on various occasions, either on an official letter or on your resume. When jotting down your address on an envelope, here is what you need to do:

  • Write the recipient’s name on top;
  • Write the address or post office number below the name;
  • Write the city, state, and ZIP code at the bottom.

You need to use a comma after the street, city, and state.

Example:

Nick Doe

3122 Amethyst Street, Apt. 7B

Dallas, TX 30302

Commas usually separate days from months and dates from the year.

Example:

Mum was born on Sunday, June 16th, 1962.

The meeting is postponed to Friday, September 13th, 2020.

Use a Comma Before a Question Tag

Question tags appear at the end of a sentence. They either encourage a response to confirm truth or falsehood. Question tags that come after a positive statement should be negative. Those that follow a negative statement should be positive.

Examples:

She is a lawyer, isn’t she?

Jane isn’t outspoken, is she?

Use a Comma Before Quotation Marks

Quotation marks come into play when you need to incorporate another person’s words in writing. You can only use commas with direct quotes. When you open a quotation mark, you need to close it to help the reader see the beginning and the end. When dealing with complete sentences, always start quoting with a capital letter. When quoting phrases, don’t start in capital letters.

Examples:

Peter said, “I cannot stand this kind of noise.”

She called her “pathetic, dishonest, and utterly despicable.”

Conclusion

Commas are a natural addition to content, and when used well, they make writing clear and easy to comprehend. Mastering comma use is necessary for coherent and correct writing.

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