10 Quick Lessons on This Element of Punctuation
The comma is an often misused or underused element of grammar. Language arts teachers often smile at their students use of commas as a kind of “decoration” on sentences, perhaps placed in various locations in hopes that the students will get some kind of credit for inserting them. And sometimes teachers get a laugh when students don’t use commas at all!
Consider these examples:
Incorrect: Let’s sit down and eat Dad.
Correct: Let’s sit down and eat, Dad.
The incorrect example could have disastrous consequences. So let’s take a look at a few correct ways of using commas.
1. Use commas in lists:
Tom, Mary, and Joe are going to the opera this Saturday.
We will need sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and lemonade for our picnic.
2. Use a comma to separate a city and state:
San Diego, California
3. Use a comma in the salutation of a letter or email:
Dear Mr. Williams,
4. Use a comma in the closing of a letter or email:
5. Use a comma after an introductory phrase:
After going to the grocery store, Tom headed home for the day.
6. Use a comma in dialogue:
“Don’t forget to study for your spelling test,” Nancy reminded.
7. Use a comma to separate adjectives:
The tall, athletic boy walked across the football field.
8. Use a comma to set off appositives (words or phrases that define another word):
On my hike I saw an osprey, a kind of bird.
9. Use commas to interrupt a sentence:
The puppy I told you about, with the soft brown hair, is available to adopt.
10. Use commas in dates and addresses:
We are going to Disneyland on August 24, 2020.
I live at 234 Mulberry Street, Ashton, Florida.
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