The comma is a symbol we use to separate parts of a sentence. When used properly they can help the language be clearer and more concise for the reader. Many students have difficulty identifying when a comma should be used in their work. Often, they will just sprinkle them around in their writing. There are five key placements for these symbols. Obviously, we always use this to quote direct speech. If someone uses that form of a word, we use it in our quote. We always use commas to break up a list of words. For example: I used a fork, knife, and spoon to eat my dinner. When ever we construct a complex sentence, we use these symbols to separate the main clause from subordinate clauses. We also use commas to separate nonessential phrases from our main statement. We also always place a comma after using the word, however.
The following collection of worksheets will teach your students the proper use of commas by having them identify the correct locations for and uses of them within the given sample sentences. Your students will learn how to use commas to set off appositives and quotations, frame coordinating conjunctions, separate items within a series, write dates correctly, isolate extraneous information within a sentence, and more! Answer keys have been provided for each activity sheet for instructors. These worksheets start out very basic and advanced as you move down the page. Commas, whether singular or serial (a.k.a. the Oxford comma), are crucial to clear writing. They are the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!"
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Commas are often used in sentences joined by a conjunction, like and, but, or, nor, or for. Combine each set of sentences below, using conjunctions and commas.
How to Use Commas in Your Writing
Commas are used to separate items in a list or set off a clause that is not essential to the main sentence. They are very important in writing as they help the reader understand context as intended by the writer.
Today, we're going to dive deep into the usage of this essential punctuation in your sentences.
Rule for Using Commas in Writing
There are a few rules to remember when using commas in your writing:
1. Use Them after Introductory Words and Phrases.
It would help if you always used commas after introductory words or phrases, no matter how short they may be. For example, "As I walked down the street, I noticed the big building." Or even shorter: "Yesterday was sunny, but today it is raining." This may seem obvious, but many people forget this basic rule when writing.
2. Between Coordinate Adjectives.
Use commas between coordinate adjectives--that is, adjectives that can be joined by the word "and" without changing the meaning of that adjective. For example, "The red, shiny car" is important to separate these adjectives because it would be unclear if you liked one characteristic more than another without the commas.
3. After Certain Types of Clauses and Phrases
Always use commas after certain types of clauses or phrases. For example, put a comma following an introductory prepositional phrase--that is, a phrase that begins with the word "in," "after," or "onto," for example, "After school, I had ice cream."
Another type of phrase that often needs a comma is a participial phrase--these are phrases that begin with "-ing" or "-ed" words like "Walking down the street, I saw a cat."
4. Before and After a Nonrestrictive Element
The most common type of phrase that needs this treatment is an absolute phrase--this is a phrase that adds extra information about the subject but is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
For example, "The car, with its windows fogged up from the rain, was parked in front of the house."
Do not use a comma with restrictive phrases. This is a phrase that restricts or defines the subject. For example, "The students in my class are from all over the world."
5. To Separate Several Items in a Series
Remember to use commas to separate several items in a series. This is a very common rule and one that you probably already know. For example, "I have apples, oranges, and bananas."
When listing items in a series, you can choose to either have commas after each item, including the last one (known as the serial comma), or not have a comma after the last item--this is called omitting the serial comma. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but it is important to be consistent throughout your writing.
6. Dates and Addresses
When writing out dates or addresses, it is important to use commas. For example, "On November 27, 2018, I was at a concert in New York."
Commas are also used when writing out addresses or long and complex numerals. For example, "I live at 123 Elm Street in Chicago, Illinois."
7. Quotes from Other Sources
When quoting someone else in your writing, you should use commas to introduce and follow the quote. For example, "According to Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand."
In some cases, you may need to use a comma before and after the attribution of your quote. For example, "After being asked about his views on education, John Smith said, 'Education is extremely important.'"
8. Parenthetical Elements
Certain pieces of information can be added into sentences either parenthetically or as appositives that need to be offset with commas. These include words like "however," "therefore," or "for example." For example, "I really love apples. However, they do not agree with my stomach."
When using these elements in your writing, it is important to make sure that you have used commas.
9. Separate Independent Clauses
When any of these seven coordinating conjunctions join independent clauses: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet always use a comma before the conjunction.
For example, "I went to the store, and I bought some milk."
Remembering these rules may seem daunting at first, but it will become second nature with a little practice. The most important thing is to be consistent in your use of commas and to use them when they are truly needed; too many commas can make your writing seem choppy and lose its flow.