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Commas. Please note that grammar checkers are notoriously inaccurate in recognizing comma errors—because some comma rules are NOT absolute. Why do commas matter?. If you cook Elmer will do the dishes. While we were eating a rattlesnake approached our campsite. Do you see the problem?.

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Commas

Commas

Please note that grammar checkers are notoriously inaccurate in recognizing comma errors—because some comma rules are NOT absolute.


Why do commas matter
Why do commas matter?

  • If you cook Elmer will do the dishes.

  • While we were eating a rattlesnake approached our campsite.

    Do you see the problem?


Obligatory rule 1
Obligatory Rule #1

  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses (unless the clauses are VERY short).


Examples
Examples

  • Nearly everyone has heard of love at first sight, but I fell in love at first dance.

  • The plane took off and we were on our way.

    (Why is there no comma in the sentence above?)


Beware comma splices
Beware comma splices!

  • A good money manager controls expenses and invests surplus dollars to meet future needs.

    The words following“and” are NOT an independent clause.


Obligatory rule 2
Obligatory Rule #2

  • Use a comma after an introductory word group.

  • A word group is usually a clause or phrase functioning as an adverb.


Examples1
Examples

  • When Irwin was ready to iron, his cat tripped on the cord.

  • Near a small stream at the bottom of the canyon, the park rangers discovered an abandoned mine.

  • Thinking his motorcade drive through Dallas was routine, President Kennedy smiled and waved at the crowds.


Exception
Exception

  • The comma may be omitted after a short adverb clause or phrase if there is no danger of misreading.

  • Here is an example: In no time we were at 2,800 feet.


Obligatory rule 3
Obligatory Rule #3

  • Use a comma between all items in a series.


Examples2
Examples

  • Bubbles of air, leaves, ferns, bits of wood, and insects are often found trapped in amber.

  • The red comma above is not obligatory, but it helps with clarity.


More examples
More Examples

  • The activities include a search for lost treasure, dubious financial dealings, much discussion of ancient heresies, and midnight orgies.

  • My uncle willed me all of his property, houses and warehouses.


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