The Comma, Part 3

Learn where to put that crucial comma in my third and last lesson on commas. This time we focus on quotes, titles, and numbers.

Learn where to put that crucial comma in my third and last lesson on commas. This time, we focus on quotes, titles, and numbers.

That Crucial Comma – Part 3

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Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate elements or to indicate a distinct pause or shift / to offset negation in a sentence

 Example: I read a romance, not a thriller, last weekend.

In this case, you still need the comma if the negation occurs at the end of the sentence.

Example: I read a romance, not a thriller.

Use a comma to separate a statement from a question.

Example: I can write, can’t I?

Use a comma to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.

Example: That is my book, not yours.

Also, use commas when any distinct shift occurs in the sentence or thought process.

Example: That was a fantasy story, perhaps even a dark fantasy one.

Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt the sentence flow (nevertheless, after all, by the way, on the other hand, however, etc.).

Example: I am, by the way, sure about this.

Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), and addresses (except the street number and name)

Example: September 11, 2001, was a scary day.

Even if you add a weekday, keep the comma after 2001.

Example: Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a scary day.

Example: Tuesday, September 11, was a scary day.

You don’t need to add a comma when the sentence mentions only the month and year.

Example: September 2001 was a scary month.

Example: I work at 666 Park Ave. South, New York, N.Y. 60606.

Example: Portland, Maine, is a wonderful city.

Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation

If attribution comes before the quote, place the comma outside the quotations marks.

Example: The reader said, “I read a book.”

If attribution comes after the quote, put the comma inside the quotation marks.

Example: “I read a book,” said the reader.

If the attribution is within the quote, put the first comma within the first quotation marks and the second comma immediately after the attribution, outside of the second quotation marks.

Example: “Why,” I asked, “won’t you tell me?”

If a quotation functions as a subject or object in a sentence, it might not need a comma.

Example: Is ‘I don’t mind’ all you can say to me?

If a quoted question ends in midsentence, the question mark replaces a comma.

Example: “Will you still be my friend?” she asked.

Use commas wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading

Example: I called you my darling.

Example: I called you, my darling.

Use a comma after certain words that introduce a sentence, such as well, yes, why, hello, hey, etc.

Example: Why, I can’t believe you!

Example: No, you can’t have a raise.

Use a comma before and after certain introductory words or terms, such as namely, that is, i.e., e.g., and for instance, when they are followed by a series of items.

Example: You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bag, tent, and a mat.

A comma should precede the term etc. Many authorities also recommend a comma after etc. when it is placed midsentence.

Example: You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bag, tent, mat, etc.

(Please note there is no extra full stop when the sentence ends with an abbreviation ending in a full stop)

Example: Sleeping bag, tent, a mat, etc., are required.

Use a comma to set off the name, nickname, term of endearment, or title of a person directly addressed

Example: My boss often asks, “Jody, is that article up yet?”

Example: Will you, Aisha, do that assignment for me?

Example: Yes, old friend, I will.

Example: Good day, Captain.

Traditionally, if a person’s name is followed by Sr. or Jr., a comma follows the last name.

Example:  Martin Luther King, Jr.

This comma is no longer considered mandatory. However, if a comma does precede Sr. or Jr., another comma must follow the entire name when it appears midsentence.

Correct: Al Capone Sr. is here.

Correct: Al Capone, Sr., is here.

Incorrect: Al Capone, Sr. is here.

Similarly, use commas to enclose degrees or titles used with names.

Example: Al Mooney, M.D., is here.

Use commas before every sequence of three numbers when writing a number larger than 999

(Two exceptions are writing years and house numbers)

Example: 10,000 or 1,304,687.

Have a Wonderful Writing Weekend!

Sources:
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp
http://www.businessinsider.com/a-guide-to-proper-comma-use-2013-9?IR=T

Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat – The Independent and Dependent Clauses

Find out about dependent and independent clauses from one of my old blog posts.

Today, I thought I’d rehash my post on commas but then realized you need to understand what dependent and independent clauses are first. When I read indie author’s work, I often find they don’t always know what the difference is. Hence, here is my old post from February 2016 again. I have updated it slightly and made sure all links are active (at least the ones mentioned in the text).

The Independent and Dependent Clauses

When I first read about ‘the clause’ I had to suppress a giggle. With no literary education apart from my high school English, the only clause I had ever heard of was, of course, Santa Clause. But as I read on, I realized how important the clause is, and I admit I have made many mistakes regarding this little-but-oh-so-important part of literature. I will try to give you a simplified explanation of ‘the clause’ and will start with the ‘independent clause’ vs. the ‘dependent clause.’

 

For those who don’t know (yet), the clause is the smallest way to make a sentence; it contains a subject and a verb. I walk. They sat. We read. These are all sentences made by a single clause. They contain a subject and a verb. You can have one or two clauses in a sentence and, if you’re wise with words, even more. Have a look at this 239-words sentence, it’s amazing! (You’ll have to search for it on this website, just enter ‘239 words sentence’ into the search function and follow the prompts).

Every sentence must have at least one (main) clause otherwise, you will have something called a fragment, which is, obviously, not a sentence.

Example of one clause: We drank a lot of wine. (We = subject; drank = verb)

Example of two clauses: We drank a lot of wine, and we danced all night. (We, we = subjects; drank, danced = verbs)

Example of three clauses: We drank a lot of wine, although I didn’t really like the vintage, and we danced all night. (We, I, we = subjects; drank, didn’t like, danced = verbs)

Example of a fragment: Drank a lot of wine. (? = subject; drank = verb; hence no clause)

Clauses can be independent or dependent/subordinate.

An independent clause can make a sentence on its own.

Example: We drank a lot of wine.

dependent/subordinate clause can’t stand on its own; it is dependent on an independent clause.

ExampleBecause we drank a lot of wine, we danced all night.

The underlined first clause in the above example is now a dependent clause as because we drank a lot of wine is not a proper sentence on its own; because of this, something happens, i.e. we danced all night. Because we danced all night can be a separate sentence on its own it is an independent clause. We drank a lot of wine would have been an independent clause, but because we added because to it, it isn’t any longer. It now is dependent on the independent clause we danced all night, and hence is now a depended clause. Confused yet?

Connecting independent clauses

You can connect two independent clauses in three ways;

  • with coordinating conjunctions. They are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so; or FANBOYS.
  • with a semicolon (;) or colon (:)
  • with a semicolon, a transition word, and a comma (Example: I like wine; however, I don’t like dry wines) (see this page for transition words like after, as although, unless, and more, too many to mention 🙂 , so check out this page)

Connecting a dependent clause to an independent clause

You can connect a dependent clause to an independent clause in two ways: by using a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun.

Subordinate conjunction

You use another type of conjunction to connect a dependent/subordinate clause to an independent clause; the subordinate conjunction (although, as, because, etc.). You can find a list of the most used subordinate conjunctions here.

You can start the sentence with the independent clause or with the dependent clause. If using the former, don’t use a comma to combine the two clauses. When using the latter, separate the two clauses with a comma. These two last sentences here are good examples of the latter sentence structure (dependent before independent clause).

Example of former: We danced all night because we drank a lot of wine. (dependent clause first, so no comma)

By the way, there is a fine line between transition words and conjunctions. Some words can even be used as both. Have a look at this page for further information.

Relative pronoun

Another way to connect a dependent clause to an independent clause is with a relative pronoun; that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose, and of which. These words take over the role of the subject in the dependent clause and integrate the conjunction word. Look at the next two examples.

Example 1: We drank a lot of wine, but the wine was horrible, and we danced all night.

Example 2: We drank a lot of wine, which was horrible, and we danced all night.

In the second example which takes the place of the conjunction but and the noun wine from the first example. which was horrible is not an independent clause, it is dependent on we drank a lot of wine and refers to the word wine.

Have a Wonderful Writing Week(end)!

Websites used to compile this text:
http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/clauses.htm
http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/clause.htm
http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/run-on.htm
http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-dependent-clauses.html
https://www.sbcc.edu/clrc/files/wl/downloads/IndependentandDependentClauses.pdf
https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/grammar_subordinate.html
http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/conjunctions/subordinating-conjunctions.html
http://www.insegnanti-inglese.com/grammar-1/conjunctions-transitions.html

Another Short Story – Rescue

Another Short Story by me. This time we had to use sentences with strong verbs instead of putting emphasis on nouns. And it’s about mermaids.

This week’s story didn’t have any keywords. During our meeting last week, we discussed how we can improve our sentences. We used the article titled ‘How to write better sentences’ by Daniel David Wallace. You can’t find the article online, though. I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up to get it here. I can assure you it’s worth it as it has very interesting information. Check it out and see how it can help improve your sentence structure.

Anyway, one of the topics in the article is about verb sentences vs. noun sentences. It stresses to use strong verbs to improve action in your sentences. So we set our homework to write a story about mermaids using verb sentences. It’s called ‘Rescue‘ and can be found in the short story section of the menu. It’s a typical mermaid story, nothing special, no unexpected twists or anything, but has a lot of verbs in it. Enjoy!