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Commas, Part 9

Rule 1 – Use a comma to separate a statement from a question.
Example: I can go, can’t I?

Rule 2 – Use a comma to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.
Example: That is my money, not yours.

Pop Quiz
Select the correct sentence.

1A. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood, aren’t you?
1B. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood aren’t you?

2A. I believe that’s my jacket, isn’t it?
2B. I believe that’s my jacket isn’t it?

3A. That is a mountain lion not a house cat.
3B. That is a mountain lion, not a house cat.

Pop Quiz Answers
1A. You’re Marvin from my old Denver neighborhood, aren’t you?
2A. I believe that’s my jacket, isn’t it?
3B. That is a mountain lion, not a house cat.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at 2:45 pm


Commas, Part 8

To get started, let’s review the first rule of “Commas, Part 7.”
Rule: Use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction–and, or, but, for, nor.
Example: He thought quickly, but he still did not answer correctly.

Now, let’s look at a slightly different situation.
Rule 1 - If the subject does not appear in front of the second verb, do not use a comma.
Example: He thought quickly but still did not answer correctly.

Rule 2 - Use commas to introduce or interrupt direct quotations shorter than three lines.
Examples:
He actually said, “I do not care.”
“Why,” I asked, “do you always forget to do it?”

Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.
1A. She went to the mall and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
1B. She went to the mall, and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.

2A. She went to the mall and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
2B. She went to the mall, and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.

3A. “Baseball” Yogi Berra said “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”
3B. “Baseball” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”
3C. “Baseball,” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

Pop Quiz Answers
1B. She went to the mall, and she found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
2A. She went to the mall and found the perfect pair of shoes to wear at the wedding.
3C. “Baseball,” Yogi Berra said, “is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

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Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, at 5:42 pm


Commas, Part 7

NOTE: An independent (or strong) clause is a simple sentence with a subject, verb, and a complete thought. A dependent (or weak) clause has a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought.

Rule – Use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction—and, or, but, for, nor. You may omit the comma if the clauses are both short.

Examples:
I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.
I paint and he writes.

Rule – A comma splice is an error caused by joining two independent clauses with only a comma instead of separating the clauses with a conjunction, a semicolon, or a period. A run-on sentence, which is incorrect, is created by joining two strong clauses without any punctuation.

Examples:
Incorrect:
Time flies when we are having fun, we are always having fun. (Comma splice)
Time flies when we are having fun we are always having fun. (Run-on sentence)

Correct:
Time flies when we are having fun; we are always having fun.
OR
Time flies when we are having fun, and we are always having fun.
OR
Time flies when we are having fun. We are always having fun.

 

Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.

1A. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping but all Ralph did was watch the game.
1B. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping, but all Ralph did was watch the game.

2A. Morgan shopped but Ralph watched the game.
2B. Morgan shopped, but Ralph watched the game.

3A. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3B. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3C. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, and you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
3D. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill; you can see Mt. Diablo from there.

4A. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight. We still have a long way to go.
4B. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight, for we still have a long way to go.
4C. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight we still have a long way to go.

Pop Quiz Answers

1B. Morgan did all of the grocery shopping, but all Ralph did was watch the game.

2A. Morgan shopped but Ralph watched the game. OR
2B. Morgan shopped, but Ralph watched the game.
(You may omit the comma if the clauses are both short.)

3C. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill, and you can see Mt. Diablo from there. OR
3D. Alphonso’s home sits high on the hill; you can see Mt. Diablo from there.
(3A. is a comma splice. 3B. is a run-on sentence.)

4A. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight. We still have a long way to go. OR
4B. I don’t know whether we’ll get home tonight, for we still have a long way to go.
(4C. is a run-on sentence.)

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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013, at 5:18 pm


Commas, Part 6

Rule – When starting a sentence with a weak clause, use a comma after it. Conversely, do not use a comma when the sentence starts with a strong clause followed by a weak clause.

Examples:
If you are not sure about this, let me know now.
Let me know now if you are not sure about this.

Rule – Use a comma after phrases of more than three words that begin a sentence. If the phrase has three or fewer words, the comma is optional.

Examples:
To apply for this job, you must have previous experience.
On February 14 many couples give each other candy or flowers.
OR
On February 14, many couples give each other candy or flowers.

Rule – Use commas surrounding words such as therefore and however when they are used as interrupters.

Examples:
I would, therefore, like a response.
I would be happy, however, to volunteer for the Red Cross.

 

Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.

1A.Whether my team wins this weekend or not, I will have to go to work on Monday.
1B. Whether my team wins this weekend or not I will have to go to work on Monday.

2A. I will have to go to work on Monday, whether my team wins this weekend or not.
2B. I will have to go to work on Monday whether my team wins this weekend or not.

3A. Beginning tomorrow, I am going to walk a mile every Wednesday.
3B. Beginning tomorrow I am going to walk a mile every Wednesday.

4A. I would be interested however in learning more about commas.
4B. I would be interested, however in learning more about commas.
4C. I would be interested however, in learning more about commas.
4D. I would be interested, however, in learning more about commas.

Pop Quiz Answers

1A.Whether my team wins this weekend or not, I will have to go to work on Monday.

2B. I will have to go to work on Monday whether my team wins this weekend or not.

3A. Beginning tomorrow, I am going to walk a mile every Wednesday. OR
3B. Beginning tomorrow I am going to walk a mile every Wednesday.

4D. I would be interested, however, in learning more about commas.

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Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2013, at 6:48 pm


Commas, Part 5

Rule – Use a comma to separate the city from the state, and always put one after the state, also.
Example:
I lived in Denver, Colorado, for 20 years.

NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service’s two-letter capitalized abbreviations (e.g., CO for Colorado, IL for Illinois) are not recommended in formal writing. However, when writing an address on an envelope, you should follow U.S. Postal Service guidelines. These guidelines are covered in our blog “Writing Addresses.”

Rule – Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt sentence flow.
Example:
I am, as you have probably noticed, very nervous about this.

 

Pop Quiz

1A. The New England Patriots, have played their home football games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, since 1971.
1B. The New England Patriots have played their home football games in Foxborough, Massachusetts since 1971.
1C. The New England Patriots have played their home football games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, since 1971.

2A. Janet has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, her entire life.
2B. Janet has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana her entire life.
2C. Janet, has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, her entire life.

3A. I agreed, although I regretted the decision later, to loan our car to Miriam.
3B. I agreed although I regretted the decision later, to loan our car to Miriam.
3C. I agreed although I regretted the decision later to loan our car to Miriam.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1C. The New England Patriots have played their home football games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, since 1971.

2A. Janet has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, her entire life.

3A. I agreed, although I regretted the decision later, to loan our car to Miriam.

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Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012, at 3:27 pm