Lesson Topic: Using Commas
I love ice cream. I
love chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
Many people are not sure
when to use a comma. Look at the above sentence. Should the
comma before the and
be there? That is
an easy question if you know the rules. You will find a list of
rules below which can answer most of your questions.
Before we begin, let's
first explain what independent and dependent clauses are. An
independent clause is a part of a sentence that has both a subject and a verb
can be a sentence all by
wanted to go where Frank lives.
What you have above are 2
1 -- I wanted to go
2 -- where Frank
Question: Can part 1 be a
sentence by itself? Does part 1 need part 2? Not really.
Although part 2 certainly adds important information, part 1 could still
be a sentence by itself. The following sentence is grammatically and
wanted to go.
Because part 1 does not
need anything else to be a complete sentence, we call it an independent
Now look at part 2.
Can part 2 be a sentence by itself? Can one write the following
Is this a complete
sentence? No. It needs something else. It is, therefore,
a dependent clause.
Rules for Commas
1. Use a comma to separate 2 independent
clauses joined by
means as a result
wants to help feed the poor, so she is planning on going to Africa this
The doctor would like to see you, but he has been at the hospital all day.
When the 2 independent clauses are very
short, some people don't use commas. However, if you use a comma, it
is still okay.
likes cheese cake, but Carol likes chocolate cake.
Joseph likes cheese cake but Carol likes chocolate cake.
2. If there is a list of
three or more items, use a comma.
bought grapes and bananas. (no commas)
Mom bought grapes, bananas, and strawberries.
3. If there are two or more
adjectives in a row.
Tim is a handsome, smart man.
4. When a dependent
clause, unnecessary word, or unnecessary phrase AND an independent
clause are put together, there is usually a comma.
I see you, I won't go.
Though George is president of the company, he can still be fired.
When Mei was in Taiwan, she often wrote to me.
The first parts are
dependent clauses. Therefore, there is a comma after them. *NOTE:
When using the above words unless,
there is NO COMMA if the clause is after the independent clause.
These words are called subordinating
rule applies to all subordinating conjunctions. To see a list of
more subordinating conjunctions, click
won't go unless I see you.
George can still be fired though he is president of the company.
Mei often wrote to me when she was in Taiwan.
5. When an adjective
clause is unnecessary, use commas. (Don't know what an adjective clause
president of the company, who is a Harvard graduate, plans on
retiring at the end of the month.
Use commas before a direct quote. (Want more information about
quotations and quotation marks? Click
Mark said, “I
loved visiting China and Korea.”
7. A name or title
that is used to address or call a person to attention.
Sir, you come back to this hotel, I cannot guarantee you a room.
the name is with an important term of identification, don't use a comma.
Alexander the Great
Jack the Ripper
8. A comma usually follows a
Robert studied for a whole week. Therefore, he got an A+.
Jake worked 12 hours a day. Consequently, he earned enough money to
travel the whole summer.
Directions: Put commas in the sentences
below. Then click the hyperlink to get the answers.
1. Ivan the Terrible is considered one of the
most feared people in history.
2. If you would like to travel first class
Madam that will cost an extra $300.
3. Rebecca asked "Can we go to the
4. My best friend who comes from Egypt is a
very nice guy.
5. Even if it takes all day I am going to fix
6. It seems that it will snow today because of
the cold weather and red sky.
7. Japanese is food is healthy light and not
8. There was fear that another big war would
start so the United Nations was formed.
9. When you meet people for the first time
never talk about religion politics and a bad boss.
10. Jim wants to see a movie but Carol wants to