Does your sentence need to take a break? Let a comma help. Commas being signals for pauses in sentences is a common misconception -- that isn’t all they do. The little comma has a lot of uses: it can break up lists of items, connect clauses, and make way for quotations. Learn how to use this versatile piece of punctuation with our worksheets and more on comma usage.
Punctuation is a skill that can sometimes escape even the most experienced writer. While punctuation at the end of a sentence can be pretty straightforward, putting punctuation in a sentence can be more complex. One punctuation device that is commonly misused is the comma.
At its simplest, a comma is used to break a sentence into logical and more manageable segments. Here are a few of the rules for using commas:
- Use commas whenever independent clauses are joined to form a compound clause with a coordinating conjunction.
- When the main clause is preceded by any introductory element (clauses, phrases, or words) a comma should separate them.
- Whenever a clause, phrase, or word is unnecessary to the main clause, it should be preceded by and followed by a comma.
- When listing a series of three or more clauses, phrases, or words, use a comma to separate them. Keep in mind, the conjunction that is between the final two elements in the series should be preceded by a comma.
- Commas should be used to separate two or more coordinate adjectives when they describe the same noun.
- When using dialogue, the quotation and the main clause should be separated by a comma.
As with most rules associated with writing and grammar, there are times when, contextually, the above rules can be broken. Working with your students using the resources provided by Education.com above may help them, not only know when and how to use commas, but also when it’s optional or even discouraged.