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9 Grammar Commas. Rules for punctuation. Commas (12f). Use commas to separate items in a series – words, phrases, or short clauses Pears, apples, peaches, and plums grow in this climate. (words) My favorite breakfast is milk, biscuits and gravy , and fruit. (words)

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9 grammar commas

9 GrammarCommas

Rules for punctuation

commas 12f
Commas (12f)
  • Use commas to separate items in a series – words, phrases, or short clauses
    • Pears, apples, peaches, and plums grow in this climate. (words)
    • My favorite breakfast is milk, biscuits and gravy, and fruit. (words)
    • She ran up the stairs, down the hall, and into her room. (phrases)
    • Joe cut the grass, I raked it, and Ed hauled it away. (short clauses)
commas 12g
Commas (12g)
  • Use commas to separate two or more adjective modifiers
    • I arrived at my new school on a sunlit, windy day.
    • My studious, well-read cousin is a National Merit Scholarship finalist.
    • Check yourself by imagining the word and between the two adjectives – if it sounds correct, you need the comma.
commas 12g1
Commas (12g)

2a. N.B. – When an adjective modifies an adjective-noun combination, omit the comma. Check yourself by imagining the word and between the two adjectives – if it doesn’t sound correct, you do not need the comma.

  • She wore a dark red dressto the prom.
  • Not – She wore a dark and red dress to the prom.
  • The red brick house was sold.
  • Not - The red and brick house was sold.
commas 12h
Commas (12h)
  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) when they join independent clauses
    • Many students took this course, but few have kept up with the work.
    • Some people know how to hide their nervous habits, but I do not.
commas 12i
Commas (12i)
  • Use commas to set off nonessential (or nonrestrictive) phrases or clauses
    • This lamp, which we bought yesterday, is defective.
    • They snack on trail mix, which is a wholesome blend of nuts, seeds, raisins, and other dried fruits.
commas 12i1
Commas (12i)

4a. A nonessential phrase or clause adds information that is not needed to understand the main idea in the sentence

  • Nonessential clause – Langston Hughes, who was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, often used the rhythms of jazz in his poetry.
  • Essential phrase – Actors missing more than two rehearsals will be replaced.
commas 12j
Commas (12j)
  • Use a comma to set off introductory words or phrases such as next, yes, or no, or mild interjections such as by the way, well, wow, or oops
    • Yes, we can make it to the party.
    • Well, what will we do now?
    • By the way, where did you go to school?
    • Boy, that was a great dinner.
    • Wow, Gypsy was a great musical!
commas 12j1
Commas (12j)
  • Use a comma to separate a dependent clause or phrase that comes before (in the introductory position) an independent clause
    • Although it looked like rain, we went to the park anyway.
    • Until he meets Juliet, Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline.
commas 12k
Commas (12k)
  • Use commas to set off appositives or appositive phrases unless the appositive is short and closely connected
    • Phil Gray, our mailman, is friendly.
    • My sister Marie was there.
    • Susan Walsh, the CEO of Wharton Industries, will speak at the conference.

*An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it

commas 12k1
Commas (12k)
  • Use a comma to set off a word in direct address
    • I am going to the mall now to pick out a gift for Tom, Carol.
    • Carol, I am going to the mall now to pick out a gift for Tom.
    • I am going to the mall now, Carol, to pick out a gift for Tom.
commas 12k2
Commas (12k)
  • Use commas to set off a parenthetical expression – including contrasting expressions introduced by words like not or yet
    • Joshua, fortunately, is nothing like his brother.
    • Our leading advocate of clean streets, you understand, is the mayor.
    • Joe, unlike Merton, is musically gifted.
    • She told a fascinating, but not believable, story.

*Parenthetical expressions are side remarks that add minor information or that relate ideas to each other.

commas 12l
Commas (12l)
  • Use comas to separate the parts of a date. When a date is written out within a sentence, also place a comma after the last item in the date if it does not end the sentence. No comma is placed between the month and day.
    • Saturday, May 25, 1998
    • On Saturday, May 25, 1998, Jeff and Jen were married.
    • In March, 1980, we visited Ireland.
    • I must know by May 18 if you plan to go on the trip.
commas 12l1
Commas (12l)
  • Use commas between parts of an address (number and street name form one part and state and zip code form one part). When an address appears within a sentence, place a comma after the last part of the address if it does not end the sentence. Also, use a comma before the word of preceding an address.
    • Our house at 1134 Park Lane, Plymouth, Massachusetts, is now for sale.
    • Ellen Prody, of Langston, Missouri, was elected to the U.S. Senate.
    • My family moved to 25 Peralta Road, Oakland, CA 94611.
commas 12l2
Commas (12l)
  • Use a comma after the salutation of a friendly letter and after the closing of any letter
    • Dear Mrs. Chen,
    • Yours truly,
commas 12l3
Commas (12l)
  • Use a comma to set off a title or an abbreviation of a title, including after the title, unless it ends the sentence
    • We attended the final lecture of Susan E. Clark, M.D.
    • We attended the final lecture of Susan E. Clark, M.D., last week.
    • Calvin Smith, Jr., is a partner in our law firm.
commas
Commas
  • Use commas to set off a direct quotation
    • Mother said, “You need to get your homework done or you cannot go out tonight.”
    • “You need to get your homework done,” Mother said, “or you cannot go out tonight.”
commas1
Commas
  • Use commas to set off adjectives out of their natural order
    • The puppy, wet and muddy, crept under the porch.
    • A uniformed guard, tall and forbidding, barred our path.
common errors
Common Errors
  • The comma splice
    • When you connect two complete and independent clauses using only a comma, you have a comma splice
      • Poor – My hamster loved to play, I gave him a hula-hoop.
common errors1
Common Errors
  • To fix the comma splice
    • Add FANBOYS
      • You wore a lovely hat, for it was your only defense from the sun.
    • Change the comma to a semi-colon
      • You wore a lovely hat; it was your only defense from the sun.
    • Make each clause a separate sentence
      • You wore a lovely hat. It was your only defense from the sun.
    • Add a subordinator (because, while, although, etc)
      • You wore a lovely hat because it was your only defense from the sun.
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