Commas Until You Cry!
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ENC 1101, Freshman Composition I Commas Until You Cry!
No handbook says to use commas where you pause while speaking!
Blah blah blah
[pause = ,] blah blah
blah [pause = ,] blah blah blah ...
Don’t hook your reader’s eyes with unnecessary commas. When in doubt, leave them out!
As carefully as architects plan skyscrapers, you must create successful sentences by learning when and where to place commas.
Each sentence part that follows will–
depending on its location –connect with a comma.
Prepositional Phrase • Begins with a preposition, a word
that shows location in place or in time. Click here for a complete list. • Might include optional description. • Ends with a noun.
Read these examples:
That tasty poodle went over my tongue, down my throat, and
into my stomach!
Participle Phrase • Begins with a present or past participle.
• A present participle always ends in ing. • A past participle frequently ends in ed. • An irregular past participle takes a variety of forms. Click here for a complete list.
• Might include modifier(s) to finish the thought.
Read these examples: Ground like hamburger,
in swamp water,
with garlic, the tasty poodle simmered in a pot!
Infinitive Phrase • Begins with an infinitive [to +
verb]. • Might include modifier(s) to finish the thought. • Here are some examples: To eat another tasty poodle or to be satisfied with just that one ...
Appositive • An appositive is a noun phrase that renames another noun. • An appositive comes either right before or right after the noun it describes. • Check out this example:
a yapping fur ball,
was not as tasty as the human foot I snagged last week.
Noun of Direct Address • A noun of direct address is a
name inserted into the sentence to
indicate who is receiving the information. • Removing the noun of direct address will not change the meaning of the sentence. • Examples: Marvin, Mr. Trump, Dad, Sweetheart
Compare this sentence …
I have Burp! already eaten Marvin.
… to this sentence. No thank you! I have already eaten, Marvin.
Adverb • Modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb. • Many end in ly ; many others,
however, do not. • In terms of comma placement, worry about those adverbs that act as transitions between sentences or between paragraphs.
Read these examples: Unfortunately, poodles give me indigestion.
That fact, however, will not keep me from eating them.
Subordinate Clause • Begins with a subordinate
conjunction, such as although, because, if, when, while, etc. • Click here for a complete list. • Includes a subject and a verb. • Does not, however, express a complete thought.
Read these examples: If you ever fall off a boat ...
While I am swimming nearby ...
Speaker Tag • Introduces a direct quotation. • Includes a subject and verb. • Check out this example:
Then my doctor said, “Poodles are bad for your health!”
Comma Tip 1 • All introductory elements require a comma when they are connected to a main clause that follows. • The pattern looks like this: Introductory element
1. Because she is short, short Francine Francine loves to go food shopping with Rachel, a tall friend. Strolling down the aisles, Francineasks asks aisles Francine Rachel to grab packages of imported crackers and boxes of high-fiber cereal, items that are always too high to reach.
2. On top of the computer monitor in the bedroom, collectionofof bedroom aacollection stuffed unicorns supervises the work Lori completes at the keyboard below.
3. Akram has a problem hitting the snooze button on his alarm over and over. To get to his first class on time, Akramfrequently frequentlyeats eats time Akram a donut in the car, getting crumbs all over the seat of his new vehicle.
4. Pablo walked all the way across campus before he noticed the lightness of his book bag. Suddenly, herealized realizedthat thathis his Suddenly he heavy chemistry text was on the backseat of his car.
5. In English class, class no noone onewants wants to sit next to Eli because he is always smacking his gum loudly. Moreover, henervously nervously Moreover he swings his leg, kicking people in the thighs, shins, and ankles.
Only one more sentence part to learn!
Nonessential Clause • Begins with who, whoever,
whom, whomever, where, wherever, which, or whichever. • Contains a subject and a verb.
• Check out this example: I can still eat poodle dinners, which I really enjoy, in moderation.
Comma Tip 2 • All interrupters require a comma in front and behind when they break the flow of a complete sentence. • The pattern looks like this: First part of the sentence interrupter
rest of the sentence.
1. George used War and Peace, Peace a heavy, thick, intimidating book, tosmash smashthe thecockroaches cockroaches book to he found crawling on the walls of his college dorm room.
2. Take this soup bone, bone Joe Joeand Joe, and and give it to the puppy before he starts chewing on our shoes.
3. “When you get hungry,” hungry” my my mother announced, wantyou you announced “I“Iwant to try a bowl of this squid eyeball stew.”
4. Prof. Finklestein, Finklestein who whoassigns assigns more papers than he has time to grade, keepsstudent studentessays essays grade keeps half a semester before returning them.
5. January, January the themonth monthJulie Julieusually usually dreads because of its cold, dark mornings, wasunusually unusuallywarm warm mornings was this past year.
Comma Tip 3 • All concluding elements require a comma when they are connected at the end of a main clause. • The pattern looks like this: Main clause
1. Jennifer tolerated the family reunion, slappingmosquitoes mosquitoes reunion slapping with a paper plate and drinking iced tea to combat the heat.
No 2. In aconcluding panic, Tony searched the interior of his car. He hoped to find his biology lab work under element = no the front seat or among the clutter in the trunk. comma!
3. At Tito’s Taco Palace, James tried to keep pace with Theodore, whocan caneat eataaburrito burrito Theodore who in thirty seconds flat.
4. “Don’t bother to ask Mom,” Mom” warned Sue. “She never extends curfew, especiallyifif curfew especially you tell her that you will be out with a guy.”
5. At the West Oaks Mall food court, Aisha winked at Rodney, Rodney a cute young man in a tight Tshirt.
Comma Tip 4 Follow these rules when you use commas with and. Complete sentence
+ , + and
+ and +
+ , + and +
item + and 1 + item = no comma! . Tony wanted to order a pizza from the Pizza Hutch and some shrimp fried rice from Wei-Wei's Garden.
2. Debbie rushed to get the report typed, andMartha Marthafrantically frantically typed and answered the phones.
item + and + 3 item = no comma! . I don't know when to leave my credit card at home and when to say no to a cheeseburger with fries.
4. When Mike took his truck to the dealership, the mechanics wanted to put in a new starter, replace his shocks, shocks and overhaul the transmission.
item + and + 5 item = no comma! . Because George snores to wake the dead and because Fuzzball, the dog, barks at the slightest sound, Alice never gets a good night's sleep.
Comma Tip 5 Follow these rules when you use commas with nonessential clauses. The student + ø + +ø+
ran to his class.
ran to his class.
Essential 1. People who know their grammar rules shouldn't clause = no always correct those of us who don't. commas!
2. My brother James, James who who cannot please Dad, has Dad has decided to move to Michigan.
Essential whom I admire the most clause = no play for teams other than the Orlando Magic. commas! 3. The basketball players
4. The movie Aliens, Aliens which which I have seen twenty-seven times, containstoo toomuch much times contains violence for my nephews to watch.
We watched a crazy kid on a skateboard weave through the heavy traffic on Orange Avenue. The kid, whohad hadno nofear fearofof kid who death or litigation, leaped litigation leaped a curb and crashed into a lawyer walking along the sidewalk.
Comma Tip 6 Follow these rules when you use commas with a series of adjectives. coordinate adjective noncoordinate adjective
1. Two cluttered computer tables and an unmade, unmade sagging bed fill Antonio’s small bedroom.
2. The cute, cute soft softfrisky soft, frisky friskyferret ferret ferret will bite willyour bitefingers your fingers if you iftryyou to pick try tohim pickup. him up.
3. Michael's faded, faded ragged ragged New York Jets jacket was an inappropriate choice of clothing for his second interview at the bank.
4. The hot, hot spicy spicyappetizing spicy, appetizing appetizing bowl of squid eyeball stew steamed on the clean, shinykitchen kitchen clean shiny counter.
5. A strange smell emanated from Barbara's blue, disorganizedbook book blue disorganized bag, which lay on the floor beside her desk.
Comma Tip 7 Follow these rules with so and so that or so [that implied]. Complete sentence
+ , + so +
Complete sentence subordinate clause.
+ ø + so that +
microwave for histhat first Implied apartment so he could cook popcorn and= no after so macaroni and cheese, the only meals he could comma! afford.
1. Robbie bought a small
2. Sylvia wore flat shoes on Implied that her date with Tony so she wouldn’t intimidate thisno after so = short young man with her height. comma!
Implied that 3. Yuko bought a small aquarium and some after so = no goldfish so her apartment wouldn’t feel so lonely. comma!
4. Patrick always carries an English handbook with him, even to basketball games, sothat thathe hecan can games so check other people’s grammar wherever he goes. The comma is for
the interrupter, not the so that.
5. Rachel neglected to make her car payment three months in a row, so row so she must hide her car in friends’ garages in an attempt to foil the repo man.