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COMMAS

Commas are sometimes hard to learn because they are used differently than in other languages.

To understand some rules of grammar use, it may be useful to first remember what an independent clause is. An independent clause is clause that can stand alone as a sentence: it has a subject and a verb and is a complete thought. For example:

I plan to quitsmoking.
My doctor told me to quit smoking.

EXERCISE C: Underline the independent clauses in the following sentences:

1. I plan to quit smoking because my doctor told me to.
2. She has a good job, yet she is always broke.
3. They were tired, so they went home early.

If you can identify independent clauses, it is easier to know where to put commas.

Thereare many comma rules in English, which can be broadly categorized into four groups: introducers, coordinators, inserters, and tags.

INTRODUCER COMMAS

An introducer comma follows any element that comes in front of the first independent clause in a sentence.

|INTRODUCER COMMAS ||after introductory words |Therefore, I plan to quit smoking. |
| |Nervously, I threw away my cigarettes. |
| |First, we need to kill all the lawyers. |
||Indeed, that would be the best idea. |
|after dependent clauses |Because I have a bad cough, my doctor told me to quit smoking. |
|after phrases |Having smoked for 16 years, I find it difficult to quit. |
||In other words, I think we should do it. |
|after direct quotations |“Stop smoking today,” he advised. |

COORDINATOR COMMAS

Together with a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), a comma links coordinate (equal)elements in a sentence.

|COORDINATOR COMMAS |
|compound sentences with two |She has a good job, yet she is always broke. |
|independent clauses |They were tired, so they went home early.|
|Series of three or more words |He does not enjoy skiing, ice-skating, or sledding. |
| |Cecille speaks English, Spanish, French, and Creole. |
| ||
| | |
| | |
|but no comma with two items! ||
| |Hower speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese. |
|Series of three or more phrases |A nurse has to work at night, on weekends, and on holidays. |
| |We ran into the airport, checked our luggage, raced to the boarding...
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