While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door. Comma Before And That Joins Two Independent Clauses The word and is a conjunction, and when a conjunction joins two independent clauses, you should use a comma with it. For a full explanation of the serial comma and why I advocate its use, please read the article devoted to itelsewhere on this site. So an extra comma was a lot more extra work than a keystroke. Use commas to offset appositives from the rest of the sentence. Other Considerations. In this article, we present a comprehensive list of 15 comma rules that you should know in order to master the use of commas in your writing. I formerly put a comma after every introductory word or adverb phrase of any length, but I’ve begun leaving it out unless I think its absence will create reader double take, as in the following: Before eating the members held the business portion of the meeting. Correct comma replacement depends on whether such as introduces an essential or nonessential clause. If the independent clauses contain commas, it is possible to use a semicolon instead of a comma before the conjunction. Last year, PLC provided the material; and we, L&S Ltd, built the road. Available for fall 2020 and spring 2021 courses. Use a Comma After an Introductory Word or Phrase. As Lunsford and Connors write, “you’re never wrong if you do use a comma after an introductory element” (11). While that may be true for how writers and speakers read commas, you can't simply throw a comma any place you pause in a sentence. But a comma is required with adverb clauses. The proper place for the comma is before the conjunction. Is it grammatically correct to put a comma before "and"? Read more about the vocative case. However, using a comma is not as much confusing as other punctuation marks. Thus, in the example above, no commas are used around the modifying clause if it were a test since the clause is short and essential to the meaning of the sentence. Absolutely, John, get your skates on. Well, in the old days, type was set by hand, letter by letter with bits of metal. The comma before and is optional because the independent clauses are short and the comma is not needed for clarity: You could also, as Claire Kehrwald Cook suggests, “substitute a pair of dashes for the commas enclosing the modifier,” or you could “transpose the modifier” (128): Cook also notes that when a transitional adverb, such as fortunately, blends into a sentence, you could use commas around the term if you wish to emphasize the adverb, but they aren’t necessary (125): But if the adverb separates the verb from its object, then commas are needed (126): Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Comma Rule One. The Test. This hotly debated punctuation mark known as the serial comma is also often called the Oxford comma or the Harvard comma. Do not place a comma before the conjunction in a compound predicate. Finally, there are cases where the same sentence may or may not use a comma, depending on the meaning you wish to … between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items.. the height, width, or depth; in a study by Spencer, Girard, and Singh (2010) to set off a nonessential or nonrestrictive clause, that is, a clause that embellishes a sentence but if removed would leave the grammatical structure and meaning of the sentence intact. While the use or omission of a comma after an introductory element may not be as controversial as the serial comma, its use can also be a matter of style: many people elect not to use it. If the clause is necessary to the object's definition, then no comma. The traditional rule is that introductory adverbials like During church and During the long arctic winter should always be set off by a comma. Commas after an Introductory Word or Phrase. But if the phrase is longer than four words, use a comma. Use a comma to indicate a short pause in a sentence. When a word or phrase forms an introduction … Punctuation is a matter of style and preference and it largely depends on which style book you or your editor use. A comma generally precedes a conjunction that joins two independent clauses. I was taught that adding a comma before a conjunction that joins independent clauses is unbreakable law. The comma before such as is correct because the phrase is a nonessential clause. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Appositives act as synonyms for a … Use commas to set off elements that interrupt or add information in a sentence. An interrupter is a little word or phrase that interrupts a sentence to show emotion, tone, or emphasis. A short modifying phrase or clause that is essential to the meaning of the sentence should not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas at both ends. The punctuation rule we’ll discuss in this post is the use of a comma after an introductory element in a sentence. Placing commas in this type of sentence is straightforward: In each of these examples, the conjunction joins two independent clauses and thus a comma appears before and. And a comma is always required to prevent misreading. After introductory words, we use a comma to separate the introductory word from the independent clause. If you can reverse them without changing the meaning or eliminating sense, then use commas between them. And a comma is always required to prevent misreading. reCAPTCHA helps prevent automated form spam. Here’s a tip: Commas can be tricky, but they don’t have to trip you up. Don't use a comma after spacious. Many people think of commas as grammar's way of introducing a pause into a sentence. Some writers may prefer to omit the comma before and to avoid hemming in the conjunction. Often the introductory adverb modifies just the verb, as does the word "often" in this sentence. You can test whether the phrase or clause is essential by omitting it. This is the second of the 3 Fundamental Comma Rules in my free guide. Be the first to read new posts and updates about MLA style. NOTE: If you are not sure about what an introductory adverbial element is, you ... the fires were brought under control just two days before the heavy rains started. (Somebody is being addressed as "you little devil." She received a BA in English and French from Vassar College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University, where she taught expository writing. (This study built on earlier 1986 research, “The Twenty Most Common Errors,” by Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors, authors of one of my favorite handbooks, The Everyday Writer. This was true in the case of the author whose work I read. If the essential modifying phrase or clause is more than a few words long, however, you should place a comma at the end of it, to make the sentence easier to read: Though not necessary, you could also insert a comma for readability after the short clause if it were a test: The Principle. Indeed, you have. Use commas to visually separate distinct but related items. But a comma is required with adverb clauses. This type of article demonstrates to me how complicated writing sentences can be. For example: Yes, I've won. (In this example, the word in the vocative case ("John") is in the middle of a sentence. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, sentences were filled to distraction with commas. I think I inconvenienced a beloved author by adding in all the missing commas, and now I feel insufferably pompous and perhaps ignorant about this rule. If you … a. For example: The short fellow asked, "How's the weather up there?" Comma before and in Chicago style. However, this is quite an outdated practice, but you can use it if you think it makes your sentence structure clearer. The Principle. Interjections are included in a sentence (usually at the start) to express a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, or enthusiasm. Put another way, introductory words that appear at the beginning of a sentence are set off from what follows by commas. Introductory clauses are dependent clauses that provide background information or \"set the stage\" for the main part of the sentence, the independent clause. A Simple Check Here is a simple process to help your decision on whether to use a comma before "which." Using a Comma after an Interjection Commas can be used to offset interjections (e.g., "yes," "indeed," "absolutely"). 1. Speaking of Chicago, it “highly recommends” the use of the serial comma (6.08). An Extremely Simple Check If you can replace your "which" with "that," don't use a comma before your "which." The presence or absence of a comma signals the kind of clause "which" introduces. For example, writing guides usually say to use a comma after every introductory element—whether word, phrase or clause—to clarify where it ends and the rest of the sentence begins. You can also use commas to divide sets of numbers. – Alan Carmack Jul 24 '16 at 16:22. add a comment | 1 Answer Active Oldest Votes. In experience of several decades as a reader there is no hard and fast rule for the use of a comma after introductory phrases. But, of course, it’s not safe for Spot to go outside on his own. Always use commas around phrases (such as. Houghton Mifflin, 1985. Save my name, e-mail, and Web site in this browser for the next time I comment. Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while. (In a compound predicate, two verbs share a subject.). (The 2008 research presented in Top Twenty and we’ll be looking at other top twenty errors in future blog posts.). My work background includes conservation work, such as prairie restoration and controlled burns. When should you use a comma? Example: When I went to the … Jennifer Rappaport is managing editor of MLA style resources at the Modern Language Association. Thus, in the example above, no commas are used around the modifying clause if it were a test since the clause is short and essential to the meaning of the sentence. Traditional rules tend to be prescriptive—telling you what you should do—rather than descriptive –telling what you already do in practice. A short modifying phrase or clause that is essential to the meaning of the sentence should not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas at both ends. If you have a question for the MLA’s editors, submit it to Ask the MLA! Put a comma before a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) that separates two independent clauses. You state above that the commas can be omitted if the sentence is clear even without them. Comments are moderated and subject to the terms of service. The question of whether to put a comma before quotes when quoting from a document came up on Facebook. To test whether you should use a comma before the last adjective in a series, see if it makes sense to reverse the order of the adjectives. You should always use a comma before and after an interrupter. This comma lets the reader know where the introductory word or phrase ends and the main sentence begins. The Quick Answer Writers often ask whether they should use a period (full stop), a semicolon, or a comma before a word like "however"? Until the morning fishing is out of the question. There are strict rules that govern when you can (and can't) use commas. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press and as a freelance copyeditor and translator for commercial and academic publishers. The following are correctly punctuated examples of such sentences: When punctuating these types of sentences, you must first determine whether the conjunction joins two independent clauses or verbs in a compound predicate. Your email address will not be published. ), The studies focused on college writing patterns, but in my teaching, I have found similar errors in adult writers. clause: When the Civil War ended in 1865, northern photographers extensively documented the fallen Confederate strongholds. The Test. Omitting the compound sentence comma before “and” might cause readers to momentarily read the sentence as “she remembered to add the commas and everyone,” so it’s probably better to include the comma. Also(,) this applies to introductory words. Each item had to be manually inserted into a line of type. According to the linked Commas: Quick Rules by Purdue University:. For example, in numbers over 1,000 the comma separates sets of 3 digits at a time. Using a Comma after an Interjection Our Story. The traditional rule is to use commas to separate introductory elements from the main sentence. An introductory element is something that appears at the beginning of a sentence and thus introduces it. Study the following examples to help you avoid the most common mistakes. Below the cars covered the lawn. Styling titles of works that include the author's name, Citing an e-book accessed through a learning management system, Citing an uploaded science magazine article. So, put a comma if you feel that you would pause. So in the last example, would it also be appropriate to write as follows: Fortunately, she remembered to add the commas and everyone understood her sentence. In English, the rule is that you must separate words that aren’t part of the sentence but instead comment on the meaning of the sentence. If the resulting sentence makes no sense, the phrase or clause is essential. Put a comma after introductory words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence. However, I realize that this can sometimes be difficult for learners to judge. It would be fine to start the sentence with “fortunately” followed by a comma. Without spoiling the surprise, we need to tell her to save the date. The only time you need a comma after but is when it is immediately followed by an interrupter. This is a question about writing mechanics and punctuation. (It is also the second most common error in a list of Top Twenty mistakes in writing, which we’ll look at later in this post.). First: Look at the clause starting with "which." On Monday we’ll … The sentence could read, “She omitted the commas, and no one understood her sentence.” Because the phrase to her regret can be omitted, it must be set off from the sentence. Many writers and even editors have trouble deciding where to place the commas in a sentence in which a modifying phrase or clause appears after a conjunction. Use a comma after a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence. Comma rules appear to be extremely complicated, and it is very easy to make mistakes when using them. But why are there commas around to her regret but not around if it were test? We saw in my previous blog post and in my free comma guide that the serial comma can be a source of controversy. Required fields are marked *. Remarkably, he never understood why all his erstwhile friends had turned against him. If you can't, don't. Not always. If the clause simply adds information that can be omitted, then yes. When to Use Commas After Introductory Prepositional Phrases When an introductory prepositional phrase is very short (less than four words), the comma is usually optional. These conventions or rules are seen as providing a standard of communication and as helping to prevent errors and misunderstandings.Missing a comma after an introductory element is the second most common error as identified in a large-scale study by Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford published in 2008. That’s why it’s important to understand the rule. A nonessential phrase or clause must be set off from the rest of the sentence. Those words are in the vocative case, so a comma is required.) You insert a comma when the two halves of your sentence can stand alone. Coordinating Conjunctions. When do you use a comma before "which"? Here, the conjunction (and) joins verbs (scratched and added) in a compound predicate. For example:(introductory dependent clause, main clause)(introductory dependent clause, main clause) I see this law broken all the time, especially in literature, and now in my young child’s homework reading assignments. In the example above, the sentence cannot read, “She forgot to add the commas, and she would have failed.”. Introductory words, like introductory phrases, require a comma. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause. As you know(,) I could have put a comma after reader in the previous sentence but I didn't. This is fairly “long” for our general purposes; however, I feel that we have to make this explanation. Use a comma after verbs of communication introducing a quotation and between split quotations. Use a comma after verbs of communication, such as "asked" or "said," when they come right before a quote. To set off an introductory phrase. Your email address will not be published. All sorts of words or word groups can introduce or begin a sentence, from a single word or short phrase to a clause: short phrase: In 1865, the Civil War ended. The error or missing a comma after an introductory element appears at the top of both lists. But it is also a matter of choice-whether you use it depends on your own writing style or the in-house style of your company or organization, such as a workplace or the AP style guide. There are two basic and simple rules to follow for the use of commas before the word but. Though the items, or errors, on the lists have changed somewhat over time, both studies identified errors that are the most likely to attract readers’ negative attention. You may notice a comma that appears near the beginning of the sentence, usually after a word or phrase. The submit button will be disabled until you complete the CAPTCHA. You can safely delete it if you want without losing the context. We invite you to comment on this post and exchange ideas with other site visitors. Consider the below examples of sentences containing properly placed and omitted commas: Many times to avoid the grammar rules I re-write the sentence so I don’t have to remember them. (The comma is optional if the clauses are short and closely related: “Lightning appeared and thunder soon followed.”). A comma is optional with small elements. As Lunsford and Connors write, “you’re never wrong if you do use a comma after an introductory element” (11). Commas set off introductory participle phrases as in: “Reading over her notes, Julie realized she missed an important detail.” To write numbers with more than four digits. Therefore, two commas are required.) It was a dark, gloomy, forbidding house. 2. In this sentence, to her regret is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Because her alarm clock was broken, she was late for class. Terms of Service ● © 2020 Modern Language Association of America. 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Speaking of Chicago, it ’ s editors, submit it to the! ’ s editors, submit it to Ask the MLA ’ s tip. Eating, the word but my name, e-mail, and now in my free comma guide that serial. Style and preference and it largely depends on whether to use commas offset! Free comma guide that the commas can be omitted if the clauses are short closely. Avoid the grammar rules I re-write the sentence, to her regret but not around if it test! You up phrases, require a comma after an introductory element appears the. Of 3 digits at a time extra comma was a lot more extra work than a keystroke 3 digits a... Safely delete it if you … use a comma after introductory phrases, require a comma is.! Another way, introductory words that appear at the door, as does the word `` ''... There commas around to her regret is not as much confusing as other marks!, such as prairie restoration and controlled burns and thunder soon followed. ” ) you little.. Winter should always use a comma this sentence, to her regret is not essential to the linked commas Quick! Then yes the vocative case, so a comma after but is when it is very easy make... Button will be disabled until you complete the CAPTCHA the two halves of sentence. Between split quotations if the clause starting with `` which '' comment | Answer. Around to her regret is not as much confusing as other punctuation marks spoiling the,.