Using commas correctly is vital for good grammar and is often overlooked.
Adding commas to your writing can change the outcome of a sentence very quickly. In the same way, using your commas incorrectly could have detrimental effects. We know that commas are used to separate a series of words to make it sound more like a person talking. You want your writing to be relatable and engaging and using your commas correctly can create that. If you use the best grammar check tool, you will probably receive some help, but what happens when punctuation software is unavailable? Here are some of the basic rules of using commas correctly.
Connect independent sentences
You can use commas to connect two phrases that are completely independent. When it comes to writing, using short sentences are usually frowned upon. You can quickly eliminate this issue by using a comma to lengthen the sentence while keeping your grammar in check. If you are not confident in your writing yet, use punctuation checker software a few times until you get the hang of things. Here is an example of using a comma to connect independent sentences.
She ran very fast, she was a great runner.
This is a great way of using commas because you can go from one point to another just by using it correctly.
Writing without the use of commas can become a confusing read. Adding commas in the right place can eliminate this confusion. As human beings, we do not speak nonstop without taking a breath. This is how you should look at your comma use. The place you naturally take a breath should be the place you insert your comma. The structure and the meaning of a sentence can totally depend on the usage of commas. Let’s look at an example of how to eliminate confusion in your writing.
For many the end of the month seems far away.
For many, the end of the month seems far away.
Just by adding a comma in the right place, we are able to make the meaning of the sentence more clear to the reader.
Use commas to separate several items in one sentence. There has been some controversy about using commas to separate the last item in a sentence, called the Oxford Comma. Some believe it is completely unnecessary to use a comma before the last item if the word ‘and’ is included. On the flip side, there are those who believe it is of complete importance to include a comma to make the intended meaning clearer. Here is a demonstration of this controversy.
For my birthday we ate cake, ice cream and jelly.
For my birthday we ate cake, ice cream, and jelly.
In this example the comma between ice cream and jelly differentiates between having jelly with ice cream, and jelly and ice cream as separate things on a list that were eaten – so infer different meanings with the inclusion or exclusion of the comma. This is just one example, and it may not be the same in another. Think about the meaning you are trying to convey and use the Oxford comma appropriately.
There are many introductory adverbs that need a comma next to it to make the sentence flow better. These kinds of adverbs include the following.
Finally, I was able to go to the farm.
Instantly, there was a raccoon on top of our roof.
However, I believed that he was speaking the truth.
In our last example, we used the adverb “however” at the beginning of a sentence. This is another controversial topic because many writers discourage using the word to start off a sentence. Standard advice is to use the word within the sentence and not at the beginning, but if you are going to use the adverb to start a sentence, always use a comma next to it.
Commas are very important in our everyday writing as well as our professional writing. You always want to communicate that you have good grammar and language skills and one way to do that is by using your commas correctly. Without the use of commas, we would live in a confusing world because messages would be incorrectly interpreted.
Even if you are writing a quick note to someone, make sure to include commas if you want the note to be understood the way you meant it. Many people use commas incorrectly, but once you know the basic and fundamental rules, you can improve your grammar instantly.
There are many more rules pertaining to commas and you might have to do some research to get them all right. With time and practice, you will be able to write better and communicate more effectively.
3 thoughts on “How and Why to Use Commas”
Great Post and incredibly helpful! I often worry that I’m using too many commas.
I know what you mean, but sometimes I think too many is better than not enough! 😉 Glad you enjoyed the post x
I agree with you 100%