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C enter for A cademic E xcellence SmartSlides. Comma Sense. ,. Twelve Recommendations.

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C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Center for AcademicExcellence

SmartSlides


Comma sense

Comma Sense

,

Twelve Recommendations


Commas demystified

  • Commas can be tricky to use. Students often have a difficult time deciding when to put them in, or when to leave them out. The following recommendations will make this decision simpler, reducing the mystery to a matter of common sense.

Commas Demystified


1 use a comma to separate words or groups of words in a series

(1) Use a comma to separate words (or groups of words) in a series:

LISTS

I went to Lance’s to buy bread, butter, and milk.

James unlatched the window, looked around stealthily, then made good his escape.


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

(2)Use commas to separate adjectives modifying the same noun.

It was a fine, sunny day.

ADJECTIVES

The large, loping hound barked furiously.


3 use a comma before the conjunction in a compound sentence

(3)Use a comma before the conjunction in a compound sentence:

CONJUNCTIONS

I couldn’t see him,but I knew he was there.

He dropped his fork on the floor,so he decided to use a clean one.


4 use one or two commas as needed to set off words which interrupt the thought of the sentence

(4)Use one or two commas, as needed, to set off words which interrupt the thought of the sentence:

INTERRUPTIONS

Simon,however, will not be going.

You are,consequently, the prize-winner.

My mother,who lives out-of-state, still considers herself a Hoosier.


5 in direct quotations commas are used to separate speech from commentary

(5)In direct quotations, commas are used to separate speech from commentary:

QUOTATION MARKS

She said, “I am glad to be in Indiana.”

“I am,” she said, “so glad to be in Indiana.”

“I am glad to be in Indiana,” she said.


6 use a comma after a mild interjection or after introductory words and phrases

(6)Use a comma after a mild interjection, or after introductory words and phrases:

INTRODUCTIONS

Oh dear, I just missed my bus.

Well, look who the cat dragged in!

In all, four houses have been sold.


7 use commas to set off nouns of direct address

Where are you, Frank? I’ve been worried about you!

Mom, is that you?

(7)Use commas to set off nouns of direct address:

NAMES

Pete, where are you?

Come in,Nancy.

Hey,Bonehead! Whaddup?


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

(8)Use a comma after a person’s last name when it precedes the first name (in an alphabetical listing, for example):

REVERSALS

Dickinson, Emily

Frost, Robert

Shakespeare, William


9 commas separate days months and years

(9)Commas separate days, months, and years:

DATES

Day and Year:November 11th, 1936

Month and Year:July, 1875

Day, Month,Year:Sunday, 13th March, 1960

She was born on November 11, 1875, in Frankfurt, Germany.


10 a comma is customarily used after the salutation or the complimentary close of a letter

(10) A comma is customarily used after the salutation or the complimentary close of a letter:

LETTERS

Dear Mr. Jones,

Yours sincerely,


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

(11) The names of towns and states are separated with a comma:

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Paris, France

Marie drove to Brussels, Belgium,

last week.

COUNTRIES


12 use a comma to separate people s names from their qualifications degrees or titles

(12) Use a comma to separate people’s names from their qualifications, degrees, or titles:

TITLES

  • Alec Coyle, DDS.

  • Jane Ball, RN.

  • DagnyBoebel, PhD.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Joseph Smith, Sr.


Short name for each recommendation

  • Listsbetween items in a list

  • Adjectivesbetween adjectives modifying the same noun

  • Conjunctionsin compouindsentences before conj

  • Interruptionsaround interrupting words

  • Quotationsto separate direct speech from commentary

  • Introductionsafter mild interjections or introductory words

  • Namesbetween sentences and nouns of direct address

  • Reversalsafter the last name in an alphabetical listing

  • Datesbetween days, months, and years

  • Lettersafter the salutation/complimentary close of a letter

  • Countriesbetween towns and states or towns and countries

  • Titlesbetween people’s names and their qualifications

Short Name for Each Recommendation:


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

,

When you are tempted to use a comma, ask yourself which of the Twelve Recommendations applies. If you cannot justify the use of the comma, leave it out.


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Brief Quiz

Lists—Adjectives—Conjunctions—Interruptions—Quotations—Introductions—Names—Reversals—Dates—Letters—Countries—Titles

  • 1.Well I really wish she hadn’t been late.

  • 2.My sister who works at Biaggi’s is a chef.

  • 3.I own a shotgun but I have never used it.

  • 4.Jonathan have you seen my keys?

  • 5.He said “Paris is one of my favorite cities.”

  • 6.I was born in Paris France but I grew up in Brussels.

  • 7.I saw a long low building in the distance.

  • 8.She ironed her blouse shone her shoes and then drove quickly to work.

  • 9.Dr. Jonathan Watson Ph.D. will be today’s guest lecturer.

  • 10.William Shakespeare was reputedly born on April 23rd 1564.


The end

The End

PowerPoint Presentation by Mark A. Spalding, BA, MEd, MA, 2007.


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Center for AcademicExcellence

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