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Comma – Uses and Examples

A comma (,) is the most commonly used punctuation mark in English that creates pauses in clauses and words so that each entity is easily interpreted and distinctive in nature. In this way it allows a sentence to have clarity and integrity by eliminating ambiguousness and confusion by introducing

Typically, the symbol of the comma is usually denoted by a dot with a tail. Commas, in general, can be flexibly placed in sentence structure, however, their placement follows specific grammatical rules to ensure clarity and proper sentence construction.

Their use cases ensure that a longer set of sentences can be understood clearly by the reader and can be used as a tool to underscore the value of crucial aspects by using emphasis unlike a full stop or period (.) which completely puts a halt on the unit of the sentence in dialogue, a comma (,) instead of stopping the unit of sentence only puts pauses or separates the structures that might include ideas, items, or words that relate to each other.

Where Should You Use Commas (,)

Just like every other punctuation mark, a comma also plays huge supporting in helping a sentence to form a base structure to make it more coherent. Here are a couple of use cases, each tagged with its own set of examples.

Item Separation

We can use commas (,) to separate multiple items in a list so that a sentence could be much more comprehensible all while eliminating the confusion or doubt when it’s interpreted by the reader.

I packed beverages, sandwiches, and other essentials for the picnic.

He needs to buy apples, oranges, and bananas from the store

Introductory element Kickstarter

We can also use a comma in dialogues where introductory words, phrases, or clauses are at the beginning of a sentence. In such cases, these introductory elements will act as necessary elements to solidify the background of the context. In other words, the words before the comma will build a stage that is later expanded after the placement of this punctuation mark symbol.

During the summer, we often go swimming at the beach.

Before the exam, I need to review my notes one more time.

Clause joiner

Another important use case of a comma (,) is that it allows a writer to join two or more independent clauses that correlate to each other such as a coordinating conjunction, adverb, appositive, transition phrase, or relative clause.

He likes to read mystery novels, and she prefers science fiction.

John, my best friend, is coming to visit next week.

The car, which he bought last year, broke down on the highway.

Clause Seperater

However, they can also be used to separate the dependent clause from the other clause, either at the start or in the middle of the sentence. 

When I was heading out, I saw a car collide with the post.

While I was studying, my roommate was watching TV.

For Expressions That have Appositives and Parenthetical

Commas can also be used to integrate additional information that is necessary for a dialogue as it makes it much more coherent. 

Our teacher, Mrs. David, is very wise.

The car, a blue Mercedez Benz, was parked in front of the house.

Where you Shouldnt be using a Comma (,)

As mentioned above, even though a comma (,) might have flexible placement, in some instances it could ruin the sentence structuring as it drastically disrupts the flow such as,

  • It must not be used between a verb and its object. For example, “She read, a book.”
  • Similarly, you cannot separate a verb and its subject with a comma. For example “The dog, barked loudly”
  • The use of a comma in a simple series without any additional information, a comma should not precede the coordinating conjunction (usually “and” or “or”) as it is deemed invalid.
  • The use of a comma between adverb and verb is also non-permissible as it adverb itself is used to modify the verb.

Can You use a comma before the word “and”?

Yes, as long as it separates two independent clauses or items in a list that are at least three or more, in that case, you are allowed to use commas before the word “and” because it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the unit of the sentence.

Is it necessary to use a comma after every introductory phrase or word?

Typically, it isn’t mandatory for you to put a comma after every introductory phrase. Use a comma only when it is deemed necessary to make it more comprehensible or add additional information to it.

Can I use a comma to separate two adjectives describing the same noun?

Yes, you can use a comma to separate two adjectives that are used to describe the same noun. Keep in mind that in some scenarios where the coordination of adjectives is equal, then instead of a comma you will be necessitated to use the word “and” instead of a comma.

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