Write Right

Writing Tip of the Week

Have a question about commas? Use the 12 Tips on Commas below as your guide.

1. Items in a Series

Use commas between words, phrases, or clauses in a series. Since he is trying to lose weight, he avoids bread, pasta, and cereal in his diet. (words) When she is nervous, she bites her nails, plays with her hair, and eat everything in sight. (phrases)

2. To Set Off Dialogue

Use commas to set off the exact words of the speaker from the rest of the sentence. "Don't be an idiot," he said, glaring at his brother. "The cops will be all over this place." No comma is necessary when reporting rather than repeating a speaker's words. His brother said that the police showed up at his door after the wild party.

3. In Direct Address

Use commas to separate the person being spoken to ( the noun of direct address) from the rest of the sentence.

Tyler, watch out for the car tailing you!

4. Between two independent clauses.

Use a comma between two independent clauses that are joined by coordinating conjunctions such as these: and, but, for, so, nor, yet and or.

They were strangers, but they made themselves at home anyway. His parents let him go to work, but they confined him to the house the rest of the day.

5. In Dates

In dates, use commas to separate the day from the year. They are going to Italy on August 5, 2018. No comma is necessary when writing the date with the day first, followed by the month and the year: 5 August 2018.

6. To Separate Adjectives

When separating two or more adjectives that modify the same noun equally, use a comma. She covered the bed with an old, tattered blanket. When you're not sure if the adjectives modify equally, switch them around; if the sentence is still clear, the adjectives modify equally.

7. In Letter Writing

Use a comma after the greeting in a friendly letter and after the closing in all letters. Dear Kaitlyn, (greeting) Your friend, (closing)

8. To Set Off Long Phrases and Clauses

After three days behind the wheel, she was glad to reach her destination. (phrase) When you see the problem as much as I do, the solution is apparent. (clause)

9. To Set Off Appositives

(An appositive is a word or phrase that is located next to another noun and is used to identify or describe the noun.) Jeff, an avid reader, loves mysteries. ("an avid reader" is an appositive phrase)

10. To Set Off Interjections

Use a comma to separate an interjection from the rest of the sentence.

Hey, will you meet me at the restaurant after work?

Wow, you sure stood up for yourself!

11. In Addresses

Separate items in addresses with commas. The school's address is

433 Birch Street, Whitefish, ON

K0K 1A0

12. To Set Off Interruptions

Use a comma to set off a word, phrase, or clause that interrupts the train of thought in a sentence.

The lead actor walked off the stage, however, after a fight with the director.



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