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You may remember English comma (,) rules more easily if you realise that they can be organised into four main groups:
1. introducers
2. coordinators
3. inserters
4. tags

1. INTRODUCER COMMAS An introducer comma follows any element that comes in front of the first independent clause in a sentence.
____________________ , INDEPENDENT CLAUSE .
Words Therefore, I plan to quitsmoking.
Nervously, I threw away my cigarettes.
Phrases As a result, I feel terrible right now.
After sixteen years of smoking, it is not easy to quit.
Having smoked for sixteen years, I find it difficult to quit.
Dependent clauses Because I have a chronic cough, my doctor recommended that I quit immediately.
Direct quotations “Stop smoking today,” she advised.

2. COORDINATOR COMMAS Togetherwith a coordinating conjunction, a comma links coordinate (equal) elements in a sentence.
Compound sentence with 2 independent clauses
She has a good job, yet she is always broke.
They were tired, so they went home early.
Series of 3 or more items

Words and, , , or .
He doesn’t enjoy skiing, ice-skating, or sledding.
Cecilia speaks English, Spanish, French, and Creole.
(No comma with only 2 items: Chen speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese.)
Phrases A nurse has to work at night, on weekends, and on holidays.
We ran into the airport,checked out luggage, raced to the boarding gate, gave the attendant our boarding passes, and collapsed in our seats.

3. INSERTER COMMAS An inserter comma is used after and before any element that is inserted into the middle of an independent clause.
INDEPENDENT , ____________________ , CLAUSE .
Words My uncle, however, refuses to quit smoking.
Phrases My father, on the other hand, hasnever smoked.
There is no point in living, according to my uncle, if you don’t do what you enjoy.
Non-restrictive phrases and clauses My aunt, his wife, died of lung cancer.
My cousins, grieving over their mother’s death, resolved never to smoke.
My mother, who just celebrated her fiftieth birthday, enjoys an occasional cigarette.
Reporting verbs in direct quotations “I’ve tried to quitdozens of times,” she says, “but can’t.”

4. TAG COMMAS A tag comma is used when adding certain elements to the end of a sentence.
INDEPENDENT CLAUSE , ____________________
Words My uncle believes in drinking a daily glass of wine, too.
He appears to be in good health, however.
Phrases He swims for an hour every day, for example.
He also plays tennis, beating me most of the time.
Tagquestions It isn’t logical, is it?
Direct quotations He laughs as he says, “I will outlive all of you.”

Using semicolons is not difficult if you remember that a semicolon (;) is more like a period than a comma. It is a very strong punctuation mark. Semicolon are used in three places:
1. Between 2 sentences that are closely connected in idea and are not linked with conjunctions
2. Beforeconjunctive adverbs and some transitional phrases
3. Between items in a series if the items themselves contain commas

Independent clause ; independent clause
Alice is going to Harvard; She isn’t going to M.I.T.
Computer use is increasing; computer crime is, too.
The meeting adjourned at dawn; nothing had been accomplished.
Use a semicolon before conjunctiveadverbs such as however, therefore, nevertheless, moreover, and furthermore. You may also use a semicolon before some transition phrases such as for example, as a result, that is, in fact, etc.
Independent clause ; conjunctive adverb or transition phrase , independent clause

Skiing is dangerous; nevertheless, millions of people ski.
I have never been to Europe; in fact, I...