Using the Comma

Look at the following comma rules and examples:

  • Use the comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, yet, or , nor, so, for) joining independent clauses. (The orchestra began to play, and the audience listened in awe.)
  • Use the comma to set off introductory elements from the main part of the sentence (Preparing for the Easter holiday, toy stores increased their inventory of stuffed animals. Because children like bright colors, their parents will buy green rabbits and magenta chicks.)
  • Use the comma to set off nonrestrictive elements in a sentence. A nonrestrictive element is a word, phrase, or clause that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. (Dr. Everson, an English professor, is giving a special lecture this morning. Susan Johnson, who is my journalism teacher, will attend.)
  • Use the comma to set off words of direct address. (We are happy, sir, to have you with us. Students, our guest has a surprise for you.)
  • Use the comma to separate coordinate adjectives. (Television advertising is full of misleading, trivial information.)
  • Use the comma to separate the parts of a date. If the date appears within a sentence, use a comma following the last item in the date. (He was born on Wednesday, November 23, 1983, early in the morning.)
  • Use the comma to separate the parts of an address, including the name of a place, and use the comma to follow the last item in an address within a sentence. (Her address is 8755 North River Street, Phoenix, Arizona.)
  • Use the comma to separate numbers of more than four digits. (More than 122,000 signatures were on the petition.)
  • Use the comma to set off absolute phrases. An absolute phrase modifies a whole main clause. (Their profits already declining, many businesses cannot afford recycling.)
  • Use the comma to set off phrases expressing contrast. (The essay needs more specifics, less humor.)
  • Use commas with direct quotations according to standard practice. (Dr. Marks said, "My platform includes opposition to the proposed changes in the law.")
  • Use the comma to prevent misreading. (On page 431, 101 places were named.)

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