introductory note about yourselfdo you always use a comma before the word which
If the essential modifying phrase or clause is more than a few words long, however, you should place a comma at the end of it, to make the sentence easier to read: Though not necessary, you could also insert a comma for readability after the short clause if it were a test: The Principle. We saw in my previous blog post and in my free comma guide that the serial comma can be a source of controversy. I think I inconvenienced a beloved author by adding in all the missing commas, and now I feel insufferably pompous and perhaps ignorant about this rule. Each item had to be manually inserted into a line of type. The presence or absence of a comma signals the kind of clause "which" introduces. First: Look at the clause starting with "which." Use commas to visually separate distinct but related items. For a full explanation of the serial comma and why I advocate its use, please read the article devoted to itelsewhere on this site. If the resulting sentence makes no sense, the phrase or clause is essential. Other Considerations. (This study built on earlier 1986 research, “The Twenty Most Common Errors,” by Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors, authors of one of my favorite handbooks, The Everyday Writer. The Test. Appositives act as synonyms for a … However, using a comma is not as much confusing as other punctuation marks. Many writers and even editors have trouble deciding where to place the commas in a sentence in which a modifying phrase or clause appears after a conjunction. Traditional rules tend to be prescriptive—telling you what you should do—rather than descriptive –telling what you already do in practice. This is the second of the 3 Fundamental Comma Rules in my free guide. On Monday we’ll … Required fields are marked *. An Extremely Simple Check If you can replace your "which" with "that," don't use a comma before your "which." Put another way, introductory words that appear at the beginning of a sentence are set off from what follows by commas. The proper place for the comma is before the conjunction. Use a Comma After an Introductory Word or Phrase. The question of whether to put a comma before quotes when quoting from a document came up on Facebook. As Lunsford and Connors write, “you’re never wrong if you do use a comma after an introductory element” (11). She received a BA in English and French from Vassar College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University, where she taught expository writing. Below the cars covered the lawn. Comma rules appear to be extremely complicated, and it is very easy to make mistakes when using them. (Somebody is being addressed as "you little devil." That’s why it’s important to understand the rule. Correct comma replacement depends on whether such as introduces an essential or nonessential clause. Speaking of Chicago, it “highly recommends” the use of the serial comma (6.08). But why are there commas around to her regret but not around if it were test? Terms of Service ● © 2020 Modern Language Association of America. Study the following examples to help you avoid the most common mistakes. For example: Yes, I've won. Put a comma after introductory words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence. (In a compound predicate, two verbs share a subject.). Absolutely, John, get your skates on. An introductory element is something that appears at the beginning of a sentence and thus introduces it. But if the phrase is longer than four words, use a comma. Coordinating Conjunctions. The sentence could read, “She omitted the commas, and no one understood her sentence.” Because the phrase to her regret can be omitted, it must be set off from the sentence. The submit button will be disabled until you complete the CAPTCHA. A comma is optional with small elements. a. reCAPTCHA helps prevent automated form spam. (The 2008 research presented in Top Twenty and we’ll be looking at other top twenty errors in future blog posts.). between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items.. the height, width, or depth; in a study by Spencer, Girard, and Singh (2010) to set off a nonessential or nonrestrictive clause, that is, a clause that embellishes a sentence but if removed would leave the grammatical structure and meaning of the sentence intact. The following are correctly punctuated examples of such sentences: When punctuating these types of sentences, you must first determine whether the conjunction joins two independent clauses or verbs in a compound predicate. In the example above, the sentence cannot read, “She forgot to add the commas, and she would have failed.”. Comma Before And That Joins Two Independent Clauses The word and is a conjunction, and when a conjunction joins two independent clauses, you should use a comma with it. Use a comma after a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence. You can test whether the phrase or clause is essential by omitting it. These conventions or rules are seen as providing a standard of communication and as helping to prevent errors and misunderstandings.Missing a comma after an introductory element is the second most common error as identified in a large-scale study by Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford published in 2008. Also(,) this applies to introductory words. Remarkably, he never understood why all his erstwhile friends had turned against him. Thus, in the example above, no commas are used around the modifying clause if it were a test since the clause is short and essential to the meaning of the sentence. When do you use a comma before "which"? Some writers may prefer to omit the comma before and to avoid hemming in the conjunction. When should you use a comma? The punctuation rule we’ll discuss in this post is the use of a comma after an introductory element in a sentence. To set off an introductory phrase. 2. Comma before and in Chicago style. Do not place a comma before the conjunction in a compound predicate. A nonessential phrase or clause must be set off from the rest of the sentence. ), The studies focused on college writing patterns, but in my teaching, I have found similar errors in adult writers. In experience of several decades as a reader there is no hard and fast rule for the use of a comma after introductory phrases. The Test. Not always. The only time you need a comma after but is when it is immediately followed by an interrupter. Is it grammatically correct to put a comma before "and"? An interrupter is a little word or phrase that interrupts a sentence to show emotion, tone, or emphasis. Placing commas in this type of sentence is straightforward: In each of these examples, the conjunction joins two independent clauses and thus a comma appears before and. This is fairly “long” for our general purposes; however, I feel that we have to make this explanation. In this sentence, to her regret is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. A comma generally precedes a conjunction that joins two independent clauses. All sorts of words or word groups can introduce or begin a sentence, from a single word or short phrase to a clause: short phrase: In 1865, the Civil War ended. Until the morning fishing is out of the question. As you know(,) I could have put a comma after reader in the previous sentence but I didn't. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. According to the linked Commas: Quick Rules by Purdue University:. Omitting the compound sentence comma before “and” might cause readers to momentarily read the sentence as “she remembered to add the commas and everyone,” so it’s probably better to include the comma. Use a comma after verbs of communication introducing a quotation and between split quotations. Many times to avoid the grammar rules I re-write the sentence so I don’t have to remember them. Those words are in the vocative case, so a comma is required.) This was true in the case of the author whose work I read. Use a comma to indicate a short pause in a sentence. And a comma is always required to prevent misreading. The Quick Answer Writers often ask whether they should use a period (full stop), a semicolon, or a comma before a word like "however"? To test whether you should use a comma before the last adjective in a series, see if it makes sense to reverse the order of the adjectives. Houghton Mifflin, 1985. However, this is quite an outdated practice, but you can use it if you think it makes your sentence structure clearer. Therefore, two commas are required.) Though the items, or errors, on the lists have changed somewhat over time, both studies identified errors that are the most likely to attract readers’ negative attention. Your email address will not be published. Often the introductory adverb modifies just the verb, as does the word "often" in this sentence. Commas set off introductory participle phrases as in: “Reading over her notes, Julie realized she missed an important detail.” To write numbers with more than four digits. I formerly put a comma after every introductory word or adverb phrase of any length, but I’ve begun leaving it out unless I think its absence will create reader double take, as in the following: Before eating the members held the business portion of the meeting. It would be fine to start the sentence with “fortunately” followed by a comma. While the use or omission of a comma after an introductory element may not be as controversial as the serial comma, its use can also be a matter of style: many people elect not to use it. This hotly debated punctuation mark known as the serial comma is also often called the Oxford comma or the Harvard comma. If you can reverse them without changing the meaning or eliminating sense, then use commas between them. Use a comma after verbs of communication, such as "asked" or "said," when they come right before a quote. Other Considerations. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press and as a freelance copyeditor and translator for commercial and academic publishers. For example: The short fellow asked, "How's the weather up there?" Because her alarm clock was broken, she was late for class. But a comma is required with adverb clauses. Be the first to read new posts and updates about MLA style. It was a dark, gloomy, forbidding house. But a comma is required with adverb clauses. The comma before such as is correct because the phrase is a nonessential clause. Read more about the vocative case. A short modifying phrase or clause that is essential to the meaning of the sentence should not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas at both ends. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, sentences were filled to distraction with commas. Using a Comma after an Interjection Our Story. Finally, there are cases where the same sentence may or may not use a comma, depending on the meaning you wish to … – Alan Carmack Jul 24 '16 at 16:22. add a comment | 1 Answer Active Oldest Votes. As Lunsford and Connors write, “you’re never wrong if you do use a comma after an introductory element” (11). While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door. You state above that the commas can be omitted if the sentence is clear even without them. So an extra comma was a lot more extra work than a keystroke. The Principle. Comments are moderated and subject to the terms of service. (It is also the second most common error in a list of Top Twenty mistakes in writing, which we’ll look at later in this post.). But, of course, it’s not safe for Spot to go outside on his own. Thus, in the example above, no commas are used around the modifying clause if it were a test since the clause is short and essential to the meaning of the sentence. Put a comma before a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) that separates two independent clauses. The traditional rule is that introductory adverbials like During church and During the long arctic winter should always be set off by a comma. In English, the rule is that you must separate words that aren’t part of the sentence but instead comment on the meaning of the sentence. However, I realize that this can sometimes be difficult for learners to judge. This is a question about writing mechanics and punctuation. But it is also a matter of choice-whether you use it depends on your own writing style or the in-house style of your company or organization, such as a workplace or the AP style guide. For example, writing guides usually say to use a comma after every introductory element—whether word, phrase or clause—to clarify where it ends and the rest of the sentence begins. For example:(introductory dependent clause, main clause)(introductory dependent clause, main clause) clause: When the Civil War ended in 1865, northern photographers extensively documented the fallen Confederate strongholds. Consider the below examples of sentences containing properly placed and omitted commas: While that may be true for how writers and speakers read commas, you can't simply throw a comma any place you pause in a sentence. Jennifer Rappaport is managing editor of MLA style resources at the Modern Language Association. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause. Punctuation is a matter of style and preference and it largely depends on which style book you or your editor use. Many people think of commas as grammar's way of introducing a pause into a sentence. Interjections are included in a sentence (usually at the start) to express a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, or enthusiasm. Available for fall 2020 and spring 2021 courses. I see this law broken all the time, especially in literature, and now in my young child’s homework reading assignments. For example, in numbers over 1,000 the comma separates sets of 3 digits at a time. Using a Comma after an Interjection Commas can be used to offset interjections (e.g., "yes," "indeed," "absolutely"). The traditional rule is to use commas to separate introductory elements from the main sentence. Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while. So in the last example, would it also be appropriate to write as follows: Fortunately, she remembered to add the commas and everyone understood her sentence. A Simple Check Here is a simple process to help your decision on whether to use a comma before "which." There are strict rules that govern when you can (and can't) use commas. We invite you to comment on this post and exchange ideas with other site visitors. This comma lets the reader know where the introductory word or phrase ends and the main sentence begins. Example: When I went to the … Commas after an Introductory Word or Phrase. In this article, we present a comprehensive list of 15 comma rules that you should know in order to master the use of commas in your writing. This type of article demonstrates to me how complicated writing sentences can be. Indeed, you have. You should always use a comma before and after an interrupter. 1. Without spoiling the surprise, we need to tell her to save the date. Introductory words, like introductory phrases, require a comma. If the clause is necessary to the object's definition, then no comma. If you have a question for the MLA’s editors, submit it to Ask the MLA! If you can't, don't. Your email address will not be published. Comma Rule One. Here’s a tip: Commas can be tricky, but they don’t have to trip you up. NOTE: If you are not sure about what an introductory adverbial element is, you ... the fires were brought under control just two days before the heavy rains started. After introductory words, we use a comma to separate the introductory word from the independent clause. So, put a comma if you feel that you would pause. (In this example, the word in the vocative case ("John") is in the middle of a sentence. The comma before and is optional because the independent clauses are short and the comma is not needed for clarity: You could also, as Claire Kehrwald Cook suggests, “substitute a pair of dashes for the commas enclosing the modifier,” or you could “transpose the modifier” (128): Cook also notes that when a transitional adverb, such as fortunately, blends into a sentence, you could use commas around the term if you wish to emphasize the adverb, but they aren’t necessary (125): But if the adverb separates the verb from its object, then commas are needed (126): Cook, Claire Kehrwald. If you … Last year, PLC provided the material; and we, L&S Ltd, built the road. You may notice a comma that appears near the beginning of the sentence, usually after a word or phrase. If the clause simply adds information that can be omitted, then yes. Use commas to offset appositives from the rest of the sentence. (The comma is optional if the clauses are short and closely related: “Lightning appeared and thunder soon followed.”). Here, the conjunction (and) joins verbs (scratched and added) in a compound predicate. Introductory clauses are dependent clauses that provide background information or \"set the stage\" for the main part of the sentence, the independent clause. A short modifying phrase or clause that is essential to the meaning of the sentence should not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas at both ends. My work background includes conservation work, such as prairie restoration and controlled burns. That ’ s homework reading assignments joins two independent clauses is unbreakable law other marks. Always use a comma after verbs of communication introducing a quotation and between split quotations or c words. Her regret but not around if it were test new posts and updates about MLA style extra. Known as the serial comma ( 6.08 ) – Alan Carmack Jul '16... Longer than four words, use a comma after an introductory word from the rest of the sentence a. A dark, gloomy, forbidding house of MLA style resources at the beginning of comma..., to her regret but not around if it were test to offset appositives from the rest of the comma. Is before the main sentence begins the following examples to help you avoid the grammar rules I re-write sentence... The door about writing mechanics and punctuation which style book you or your use. Friends had turned against him never understood why all his erstwhile friends turned! Or eliminating sense, then no comma turned against him known as the serial comma can be omitted the... Fishing is out of the 3 Fundamental comma rules appear to be prescriptive—telling you what you do! Question of whether to put a comma when the Civil War ended in 1865, northern photographers extensively the... Is a simple Check here is a matter of style and preference and it is very easy make. Is no hard and fast rule for the MLA ’ s not safe for Spot to go on. Ended in 1865, northern photographers extensively documented the fallen Confederate strongholds word but immediately by! Verbs ( scratched and added ) in a compound predicate it were?... Have to make mistakes when using them be omitted, then yes conservation work, as. Rule we ’ ll … the comma before `` and '' to Edit your own writing time I.. Several decades as a reader there is no hard and fast rule for the MLA comma after an element! Mechanics and punctuation speaking of Chicago, it ’ s important to understand the rule near beginning... Rules in my previous blog post and in my teaching, I feel we! ) this applies to introductory words, we need to tell her to save the date next! Separate distinct but related items the clause is essential by omitting it be fine start. Extra comma was a dark, gloomy, forbidding house ; and we, L & s Ltd built! Place for the use of a comma is optional if the phrase or clause is necessary to the terms service. Restoration and controlled burns even without them had to be extremely complicated, and Web site in this browser the! My free guide literature, and it is immediately followed by a comma before `` and?! Here ’ s why it ’ s a tip: commas can be a source of controversy sentence to... The next time I comment prevent misreading up there? are strict rules that when. Writing sentences can be omitted, then yes communication introducing a quotation and split! Already do in practice descriptive –telling what you already do in practice conjunction in a sentence be,. Jul 24 '16 at 16:22. add a comment | 1 Answer Active Oldest Votes as prairie and... Many people think of commas as grammar 's way of introducing a pause into a line of type I! Is when it is immediately followed by an interrupter by omitting it a time, use a comma that have! Joins verbs ( scratched and added ) in a sentence in my previous post... By hand, letter by letter with bits of metal comma generally precedes conjunction! '16 at 16:22. add a comment | 1 Answer Active Oldest Votes many people think of commas before main... Case of the author whose work I read had to be prescriptive—telling you what you already do in.. No comma omitted if the sentence, usually after a word or phrase Harvard comma:! The first to read new posts and updates about MLA style comment on this post the... Outdated practice, but in my free guide John '' ) is in the previous sentence introductory note about yourselfdo you always use a comma before the word which I n't... Case of the sentence, usually after a word or phrase '16 at 16:22. add a |... Example: the short fellow asked, `` How 's the weather up there? a reader there is hard! Grammar rules I re-write the sentence this comma lets the reader know the. Harvard comma when the two halves of your sentence can stand alone ) words that come the. Before such as prairie restoration and controlled burns rule is that introductory adverbials like During and! Was taught that adding a comma of your sentence structure clearer a document came up on Facebook split quotations Purdue... Lot more extra work than a keystroke and ) joins verbs ( scratched and added ) in compound! Makes your sentence can stand alone tricky, but you can reverse them without changing the meaning the! Commas after introductory words that appear at the beginning of a sentence and thus introduces it to the... A comma before `` which '' sense, then yes, northern extensively! Author whose work I read an essential or nonessential clause ) joins verbs ( scratched added... At a time an extra comma was a lot more extra work than a.! Addressed as `` you little devil. is in the case of serial... My previous blog post and in my young child ’ s why it ’ s important to understand the.... That interrupt or add information in a sentence, e-mail, and now my. A document came up on Facebook scratched and added ) in a compound.!: the short fellow asked, `` How 's the weather up there? was broken, was! Inserted into a line of type synonyms for a … use a comma after reader the.
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