Author Topic: When and how do I use a comma?  (Read 7819 times)

Offline Sheritha

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When and how do I use a comma?
« on: August 07, 2011, 07:17:51 AM »
 :huh:
I always assumed I knew when to use a comma.  But feedback from editors and online critique groups tell me otherwise. 

What is the basic rule when using a comma?
When do I use commas?
AND when do I use a semi colon?

Please help.

Sher
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Offline MaryL

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 07:28:25 AM »
:huh:
I always assumed I knew when to use a comma.  But feedback from editors and online critique groups tell me otherwise. 

What is the basic rule when using a comma?
When do I use commas?
AND when do I use a semi colon?

Please help.

Sher

Hi, Sher. It would take all day to list the uses of the comma. You should google "comma usage" and "semi-colon usage" for the answers. You'll find lots of good sites with this information. There are also excellent hardcover resources available.
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Offline Tabris

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2011, 07:40:28 AM »
Here are your basics:

I ate a sandwich, and I drank a cola. (between two independent clauses before the conjunction)
I ate a sandwich and drank a cola. (not between an independent clause and a dependent clause)
I ate a sandwich and a cola. (not between a list of two)
I ate a sandwich, an apple, and a cola. (in between a list of three.)
I ate a sandwich because I was hungry (never before because)
I ate a sandwich, then drank my coke (you'll want one before "then")



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Offline MaryL

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2011, 07:43:55 AM »

I ate a sandwich because I was hungry (never before because)


I screw this one up most of the time in long sentences!  :wink:
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Offline Tabris

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2011, 07:49:42 AM »
In a long sentence, sometimes you need it. I'm a comma-nazi but honestly, sometimes you put them there because they're necessary and not because the grammar books say to do it.

Oh, and I guess I should cover the other main use:

Because I was hungry, I ate a sandwich (between the dependent clause and independent clause where the dependent comes first)
but not
I ate a sandwich because I was hungry (because the independent came first)
and not
I ate a sandwich during the movie
but you would say
During the movie, I ate a sandwich.

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Offline Sheritha

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 08:23:09 AM »
thanks everyone.

I am saving this page.
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Offline Magic_Seeker

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 08:28:09 AM »
:agree: with Tabris's posts.

A very good, very short, and probably very cheap reference book for this type of question is "Elements of Style" by Strunk & White -- in print since at least 1918.  Some of it's a little old-fashioned, but for basic rules it's great.

Short.  A quick read.  And sometimes quite funny.  (Or I have a warped sense of humor.)  :up:
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Offline violet

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2011, 01:52:24 PM »
Eats, Shoots & Leaves is also a great reference book. Fun to read as well.


Offline jfinley

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2011, 04:24:43 PM »
I find Melissa Donovan's blog -- http://www.writingforward.com/ -- is also a good and quick resource for questions like this.
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Offline Jole

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 05:49:07 PM »
hey Sheritha,

just thought i'd mention that American punctuation is different to British, so i guess it depends where you live. here in Australia, we use the British version. our comma use is similar, but we don't use a comma before the last 'and' in a series. for instance, instead of: I ate a sandwich, an apple, and a coke--it would be--I ate a sandwich, an apple and a coke.

i noticed you live in south africa. your punctuation might be different over there as well. (?) :)

Offline Beckahrah

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 08:03:09 PM »
Eats Shoots & Leaves is a great resource.  Poor comma use is one of my pet peeves, though I know the rules surrounding its use are as various as the ways one can mess them up.  Here is one of my favorite examples of how an improper comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence:

Let's kill Hitler.
Let's kill, Hitler.

Good luck! :)
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Offline nascentnovelist

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2011, 08:25:33 PM »
Here's a great, short resource on how and when to use a semicolon: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

Seconding the suggestion of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. It's free to download.

Martine

Offline AshK

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2011, 06:03:17 AM »
:agree: with Tabris's posts.

A very good, very short, and probably very cheap reference book for this type of question is "Elements of Style" by Strunk & White -- in print since at least 1918.  Some of it's a little old-fashioned, but for basic rules it's great.

Short.  A quick read.  And sometimes quite funny.  (Or I have a warped sense of humor.)  :up:

You must be warped...because I had a BLAST reading it and I know for sure I am warped.
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Offline JeanneG

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2011, 12:43:47 PM »
A bit of trivia about Strunk & White's The Elements of Style-- Did you know that White is the same E.B. White who wrote Charlotte's Web? Pretty cool, no?

Now back to your original programming...  ;D

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Offline MaryL

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Re: When and how do I use a comma?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2011, 07:16:21 PM »
A bit of trivia about Strunk & White's The Elements of Style-- Did you know that White is the same E.B. White who wrote Charlotte's Web? Pretty cool, no?

Now back to your original programming...  ;D

JeanneG

Wow! I'd never made that connection. Cool fun fact!
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