Knowledge of Language - Commas
Jennifer reached for the donut.

Knowledge of Language - Commas

This English Language quiz is called 'Knowledge of Language - Commas' and it has been written by teachers to help you if you are studying the subject at middle school. Playing educational quizzes is a fabulous way to learn if you are in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade - aged 11 to 14.

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Commas (,) are used in written language and reflect one of the following:

1. a place where a pause would take place in a spoken conversation (example: So Chester went on to say, get out of the way.)

2. the signaling of a separate idea (example: The movie was, in my opinion, wonderful!)

3. a listing of similar items grouped together (example: red, orange, yellow and green)

4. separates the day of the month from the year (example: June 15, 2014)

5. separates a city from a state (example: Los Angeles, California)

6. the end of a greeting or closing in a letter (example: Dear John, and Truly yours,)

When listing only two items, no comma is needed. Example: John and Mark. However, when listing three or more items in a row, a comma is used to separate the listed items: Example: boats, trains, planes and cars are all modes of transportation. [NOTE: A comma appears before words of conjunctions such as and, but, or, nor, so and yet.] If that is the case, then why is there no comma in our above example between “planes and cars?” The general rule is that if you are listing a series of items a comma does not appear between the next to last and last item. The word “and” here replaces the need for a comma. However, when you are linking two sentences together (known as a compound sentence), the comma is used to show the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next sentence such as in the example: “She studied mathematics, and she also studied foreign languages.”]

1.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Hello Mary said when she saw me coming.
Hello Mary,
Hello, Mary
said, when
no comma needed
This sentence does require a comma so (d) is not the correct answer. Answer (c) is not a running list nor is it a place where you would pause if speaking. Answer (a) is also not correct because you would not pause between saying Mary and “said". Answer (b) reflects a correct place to pause. It would read: Hello [pause] Mary said. The [pause] is replaced with a comma (,). This also tells us that Mary was doing the talking.
2.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Melinda read the book that was chosen for the play.
the book, that
Melinda, read
no comma needed
chosen, for
In the Answers (a), (b), and (d) there should be no pause between the words on each side of the comma. This sentence does not need a comma. Therefore, Answer (c) is the correct choice.
3.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Mr. Stringer who is my math teacher is going to Spain.
Mr. Stringer, who
no comma needed
teacher, is
Mr. Stringer, who AND teacher, is
This sentence is in definite need of the use of the comma so Answer (b) is incorrect. Answer (a) shows a pause between “Mr. Stringer” and “who” and is a correct use of the comma. Answer (c) shows a pause between “teacher” and “is” and it, too, is a correct place for a pause. Therefore, the correct Answer is (d) - both (a) and (c).
4.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Will your mother take us to the movies or will we have to walk?
mother, take
the movies or,
Will, your mother
the movies, or
For Answer (a) there is no pause between the words “mother” and “take” so the comma here is not correct. In Answer (b) the comma comes after the conjunction “or”. Commas come before conjunctions so this is not the correct answer. In Answer (c), if a comma came after “Will” it would indicate that “Will” was a person. As “Will” in this case refers to a question being asked, there would be no pause needed between “Will” and “your mother". The correct comma placement is, therefore, Answer (d) showing the comma before the conjunction “or” and where a new sentence would begin.
5.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
My favorite ice cream is butter pecan.
favorite, ice cream
no comma needed
ice cream, is
is, butter pecan
This sentence conveys one simple statement where no pause needs to take place nor is there a listing of items. There is no need to include a pause either. Therefore, the correct Answer is (b) as no comma is needed.
6.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Jennifer reached for the donut then reconsidering her choice picked up the apple.
donut, then reconsidering her choice, picked
then, reconsidering
Jennifer, reached for the donut, then
no comma needed
This sentence definitely requires the need for the use of the comma so Answer (d) is not correct. Answer (b) is not correct because there is no need for a pause between “then” and “reconsidering”. In Answer (c) there is no need to pause after “Jennifer” and this comma interrupts the flow of the sentence. Answer (a) shows the signaling of a separate idea, i.e., “then reconsidering her choice”. Answer (a) shows the correct usage of the comma.
7.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
I was originally born in Miami Florida but now I live in Las Vegas.
Miami, Florida, but
now, I
live, in
Las, Vegas
In both Answers (b) and (c) there is no need for a pause to take place and is not the correct use of a comma in this sentence. Answer (d) has placed a comma in between a name and is an incorrect use of the comma. Answer (a) shows the correct usage of both commas. The first comma separates a city from a state. The second comma comes before a conjunction and the beginning of a second sentence.
8.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
She booked the rehearsal hall for October 23 2014.
hall, for
She, booked
for, October
October 23, 2014
In Answer (a), there is no pause needed between the words “hall” and “for”. In Answer (b) there should be no pause between “She” and “booked”. The same holds true for Answer (c). There is no need for a pause between “for” and “October”. Answer (d) is the correct response as a comma is needed to separate the day of the month from the year.
9.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Looking in his bag he found some pens erasers crayons and scissors.
bag, he
pens, erasers crayons, and
pens, erasers, crayons and
and, scissors
In this sentence there is no need to pause between the words “bag” and “he” so Answer (a) is incorrect. In Answer (b) there is a list of items that are not being separated by the comma, i.e., “erasers” and “crayons”. In addition, no comma is used before a conjunction when listing a series of items so there should be no comma before “and”. In Answer (d) the comma is coming after a conjunction. Commas come before conjunctions. The correct Answer is, therefore, (c) showing a listing of items with no comma used between the next to last and last item.
10.
Choose which answer shows where a comma should be placed, if anywhere.
Alfred wanted him to have the best I guess of what he had.
Alfred wanted him,
the best, I guess,
no comma needed
him, to
This sentence is in need of the use of a comma so (c) is not the correct Answer. Answer (a) does not reflect where a pause in a conversation should take place. Answer (d) also does not reflect where a pause should take place. Answer (b) reflects where a separate idea takes place, i.e., “I guess,” so this is the correct Answer.
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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