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Punctuation (Commas) 01
Commas help add meaning to a sentence as in 'I went shopping yesterday and bought a dress, trainers, scarf, chocolate and groceries.'

Punctuation (Commas) 01

Use commas in lists, clauses and to mark off words such as "therefore". Commas help you to clarify what you mean when you write. Use commas to provide slight pauses and help your reader to understand you!

Commas operate as visual markers which separate parts of the sentence so that you can understand it better. When reading aloud, we know to pause slightly where a comma appears and to pause a little longer where a semicolon or full stop is used. Similarly, when writing, we use punctuation to shape the writing and distinguish between phrases, clauses and items in lists.

The quiz on Revising Punctuation (Commas to Separate Clauses) gives you some practice with one use of the comma. Here you can practise punctuating lists. Each item in a list should be followed by a comma. The only exception is the next-to-last item, which should be followed by the word "and", but does not need a comma: "I have learned how to use commas, exclamation marks, question marks, colons, semicolons and speech marks!"

Be careful with words such as "therefore" and "however". These should not be used with bracketing commas, which usually creates a sentence with a comma splice, as here: "The speaker was ordered to stop talking, however, she continued." COMMA SPLICE ALERT! This should instead be: "The speaker was ordered to stop talking; however, she continued."

Test your punctuation skills with this quiz.

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1.
Add commas to the following sentence.
She used sugar flour milk eggs and butter for the cake.
She used sugar, flour milk eggs, and butter for the cake.
She used sugar flour, milk, eggs, and butter for the cake.
She used sugar, flour, milk eggs and butter for the cake.
She used sugar, flour, milk, eggs and butter for the cake.
Commas help the reader to see each item in a list separately
2.
Add commas to the following sentence.
He realised of course that he had worried the teacher.
He realised of course that he had worried, the teacher.
He realised, of course, that he had worried the teacher.
He realised, of course, that he had worried, the teacher.
He realised, of course that he had worried the teacher.
Mark off words such as "of course" for emphasis.
3.
Add commas to the following sentence.
The party was on the whole very enjoyable.
The party was on the whole, very enjoyable.
The party was, on the whole, very enjoyable.
The party, was on the whole very enjoyable.
The party was on the whole, very, enjoyable.
A pair of bracketing commas mark off "on the whole"
4.
Add commas to the following sentence.
Mum asked John to buy eggs bread butter and jam.
Mum asked John to buy eggs bread, butter and jam.
Mum asked John to buy eggs, bread butter and jam.
Mum asked John to buy eggs, bread, butter and jam.
Mum asked John to buy, eggs, bread, butter, and jam.
Commas separate items in a list but are not necessary before "and"
5.
Add commas to the following sentence.
He is feeling ill nevertheless the show must go on.
He is feeling ill nevertheless the show, must go on.
He is feeling ill, nevertheless the show must go on.
He is feeling ill; nevertheless, the show must go on.
He is feeling ill, nevertheless, the show, must go on.
The semicolon prevents a comma splice
6.
Add commas to the following sentence.
He took his pen pencil ruler books and lunch in a bag.
He took his pen, pencil ruler, books and lunch in a bag.
He took his pen, pencil, ruler books and lunch in a bag.
He, took his pen, pencil, ruler, books, and lunch in a bag.
He took his pen, pencil, ruler, books and lunch in a bag.
It's good he had a bag to carry all of those things!
7.
Add commas to the following sentence.
She was late too of course so we started anyway.
She was late too of course, so we started anyway.
She was late too, of course so we started anyway.
She was late too, of course, so we started anyway.
She was late, too of course, so we started anyway.
A pair of bracketing commas separates "of course" from the rest of the sentence
8.
Add commas to the following sentence.
It rained while they played however they carried on.
It rained while they played however, they carried on.
It rained while they played, however they carried on.
It rained while they played; however, they carried on.
It rained, while they played however they carried on.
A semi-colon is necessary where the two full sentences are joined. "However" should be followed by a comma
9.
Add commas to the following sentence.
He was late so we began without him.
He was late so we began without, him.
He was late so we began, without him.
He was late so, we began without him.
He was late, so we began without him.
The comma separates the second clause from the first
10.
Add commas to the following sentence.
Jim was in fact in charge of the whole project.
Jim was in fact in charge of, the whole project.
Jim was, in fact, in charge of the whole project.
Jim, was in fact in charge of the whole project.
Jim, was in fact, in charge of the whole project.
Use bracketing commas for "in fact"

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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