Commas Until You Cry!

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©2013 by Robin L. Simmons.
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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!
Ouch!
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,
boiling
in swamp water,
seasoned
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:
The poodle,
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.
Burp
… 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
+
,
+
main
clause.
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
+
,
+
concluding
element.
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
complete sentence.
item
+
item
+,+
Ø
+ and +
item
item
+ , + and +
item
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.
Robert
+,+
essential clause
+,+
nonessential clause
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.
5.
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
+,+
coordinate
adjective
+ø+
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.
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.
The END.
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