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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


Commas, Part 4

Rule – Use commas to set off the name or title of a person directly addressed.
Examples:
Will you, Aisha, do that assignment for me?
Yes, Doctor, I will. NOTE: Capitalize a title when directly addressing someone.
Joshua, please remember to buy lettuce.
Please remember to buy lettuce, Joshua.

Rule – Use commas to surround degrees or titles used with names. Commas are no longer required around Jr. and Sr. Commas never set off II, III, and so forth.
Example:
Al Mooney, MD, knew Sam Sunny Jr. and Charles Starr III.

Pop Quiz
1A. The defendant has accused you Mr. Dempsey of trying to steal his credit card.
1B. The defendant has accused you, Mr. Dempsey of trying to steal his credit card.
1C. The defendant has accused you, Mr. Dempsey, of trying to steal his credit card.

2A. The injury to Robert Griffin III does not appear to be serious.
2B. The injury to Robert Griffin, III does not appear to be serious.
2C. The injury to Robert Griffin, III, does not appear to be serious.

3A. I am sorry professor that my paper is late.
3B. I am sorry, Professor, that my paper is late.
3C. I am sorry, professor, that my paper is late.

4A. Grover Washington Jr. has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello DDS.
4B. Grover Washington, Jr. has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello, DDS.
4C. Grover Washington, Jr., has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello, DDS.
4D. Grover Washington Jr. has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello, DDS.

Pop Quiz Answers
1C. The defendant has accused you, Mr. Dempsey, of trying to steal his credit card.
2A. The injury to Robert Griffin III does not appear to be serious.
3B. I am sorry, Professor, that my paper is late.
4D. Grover Washington Jr. has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello, DDS.
NOTE: Answer “4C. Grover Washington, Jr., has an appointment today with Orin Scrivello, DDS,” also is acceptable but the commas surrounding Jr. are no longer required.

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Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at 3:25 pm


Commas, Part 3

In “Commas, Parts 1 and 2,” we gave you four rules for how to use a comma. In this lesson, we’ll examine a more advanced concept for using the comma.

Rule: Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the adjectives are interchangeable.

Examples:
He is a strong, healthy man.
We could also say a healthy, strong man.

We stayed at an expensive summer resort.
We would not say summer expensive resort, so no comma.

NOTE: Words ending in -ly are not always adverbs. Many adjectives also end in -ly (e.g., lonely, friendly, kindly (may be an adverb or an adjective), family (may be a noun or an adjective). To test whether an -ly word is an adjective, see if it can be used alone with the noun.

Examples:
Felix was a lonely, confused boy. (Lonely is an adjective because it can be used alone with boy.)
I get headaches in brightly lit rooms. (Brightly is not an adjective because it cannot be used alone with rooms; therefore, no comma is used between brightly and lit.)

Pop Quiz
Choose the sentence with the correct punctuation. Answers are at the bottom.

1A. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely, intelligent woman.
1B. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely intelligent woman.

2A. Be careful before walking on the hot, sharp lava.
2B. Be careful before walking on the hot sharp lava.

3A. That was a wonderfully, delicious dinner we had last night.
3B. That was a wonderfully delicious dinner we had last night.

4A. Edward seems very proud of his bright, red car.
4B. Edward seems very proud of his bright red car.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1A. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely, intelligent woman.
2A. Be careful before walking on the hot, sharp lava.
3B. That was a wonderfully delicious dinner we had last night.
4B. Edward seems very proud of his bright red car.

 

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Posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012, at 12:41 pm