Most people who write in English understand the primary use of a comma. They help reflect breaks or intervals in a sentence. But there is so much more that it does apart from being just punctuation. Several types of sentences have different meanings to express, and commas have a significant role to play. Take a look at its various uses below, along with relevant examples.
1. Interchangeable Adjectives
When you find that two adjectives that appear one after the other, wouldn’t care much which came before which, use a comma. In such cases, no matter which adjective comes first, the comma remains constant.
Example: Jacob is a tall, handsome man OR Jacob is a handsome, tall man.
2. Independent Clauses and commas
Independent clauses are those that contain meaning even when separated with a full stop. Although, sometimes, we join such sentences with the help of connectors. This interval punctuation mark comes in use in this situation too.
Example: The Principal reached the school. He entered his cabin. These are two sentences that we can join with the help of the connector “and.” The principal reached the school, and entered his cabin. A comma is necessary here.
3. Comes after something/someone identified
When writing, sometimes, a reader may know the person or thing or may not. In cases when one already knows that person or thing in context, they would understand better with a comma.
Example: My daughter, Samantha, lives in Los Angeles. The sentence clarifies well that Samantha is the writer’s only daughter. When it is established that there is only one daughter in question, adding the comma makes the sentence a clear one.
4. Comma and Dates
There is always confusion when it comes to writing dates, months, and years together. People often either forget to add commas or misuse it.
Example: You will find my article in this magazine’s 10th September, 2010, edition.
Remember to add a comma even after the year, and not just after the month. Although, there is no need for a comma when there is no date in context. You can directly write the month and year.
5. Dependent Clause and Comma
A sentence that begins with a dependent clause, followed by an independent clause, requires a comma. Dependent Clauses are those that have meaning even if separated from the rest of the sentence.
Example: Let me know, if you want to join me for ice cream. The dependent clause “Let me know” has a meaning even without the rest of the sentence. But when joined by an independent clause, it takes a comma in-between.
6. Introductory Words
Creative writers who include dialogues or one-on-one writing styles might regularly use introductory words. Moreover, even a lot of formal places use such introductory words. Such words should be followed with a comma to add emphasis to its use.
Example: Well, it does not seem likely for us to conduct this meeting tomorrow. In this sentence, “well” is the introductory word. Other such words include yes, no, however, moreover, etc.
Since schooling, the one use of a comma that we are versed with is to use it as a separator. We can separate three or more words, phrases, ideas, or clauses within a sentence with this punctuation.
Example: The booked company director promised to repay all the bank loans, pay all his employees, offer maintenance costs to those he laid off without notice, and surrender for six-months imprisonment.
8. Represent a pause
Representing a comma is yet another one of its common uses. Either it could show a shift in an idea, or a small pause before ending the sentence.
Example: Yes, I forgot to carry my umbrella. It was a mistake, not stupidity.
9. Clears Modifier Confusions
Modifiers add more clarity to a sentence, but incorrect use of a comma can make the sentence an unclear one. An example will help you understand better.
Example: Samuel waved at his father, very happily. Here, the modifier is unable to clarify who was happy, Samuel or his father. Samuel waved at his father, who was very happy. With the comma in the right place, it is clear that it is Samuel who is happy.
10. Discourse and a Quotation
Writing dialogues is challenging without the use of commas. The part when you right, “he said” or “she said,” etc. is a discourse. A comma follows, and then the dialogue between quotation marks.
Example: “She was not able,” I continued, “to make it there on time.”
Using commas wisely and correctly makes the sentence what it ought to be. Placing them at the wrong places can change the meaning of the sentence. With these uses listed out so clearly, using commas will become easier than before. You can use this lesson as a checklist when you sit to practice. Taking regular looks at these examples will help learn faster.
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