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Proper Punctuation – Comma

Using proper punctuation means knowing how to properly use commas. Commas have so many different uses that it’s best to check when you’re not sure how to use them or if you’ve used them correctly. Here are a few common uses of commas and how to be sure you’ve got it right.

  1. Commas and Quotations
    • If you start by telling who said it, use a comma and then the first quotation mark.
      • My teacher said, "Please take out your journals."
    • If you put the quote first and then tell who said it, use a comma at the end of the sentence, and then the second quotation mark.
      • "It’s time for lunch," said the hungry boy.
  2. Commas in Compound Sentences
    • When you join two sentences with a word like and, but, so, or for, use a comma first.
      • We spent hours cleaning our rooms, and we didn’t even finish. (The comma is actually optional here, but in a longer sentence you’ll probably need it to help your reader pause between thoughts.)
  3. Serial commas
    • When you have a list of things, you need to use commas to separate them. Whether or not you use it before the last thing on the list is a matter of style and preference. Whichever you choose, stay consistent. However, if it would confuse your readers without it, you should put it in.
      • My favorite colors are blue, red and green. OR
      • My favorite colors are blue, red, and green.
    • There may be some confusion in the examples below if you don’t use the second comma. The examples below imply two different things.
      • My favorite foods are pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
      • My favorite foods are pizza, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches.

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. Try a sample resource from our Elementary Sentence Structure course or browse other related courses.

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