Why do we need to use correct punctuation? Because it is absolutely essential to writing and expressing ourselves properly and correctly. Everywhere from the workplace to writing emails, documents and even sending text messages, society will always endeavour to adhere to the social norms, that is, what we perceive to be correct. Correct usage and a basic understanding of the fundamentals of English punctuation concerning; apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, dashes, full stops, questions marks, exclamation marks and quotation marks, will lead to an overall much more fluent, comprehensive and respected English. We should strive to meet the social, academic norms, and withstand from letting ourselves become accustomed to writing in English using incorrect and shabby punctuation. Down below, we’ll elaborate and explain with examples over the basic pillars of punctuation specifically targeting: Commas..
Commas (,) – Lists
- Last weekend I went to the USA, Spain and France. The last item in the sentence is preceded by ‘and’. ‘And’ doesn’t take a comma before it unless the sentence is very long.
- In Spanish class I studied verb forms, adjectives, different parts of speech and suffixes.
Commas (,) – Adjectives
Commas are used before adjectives if there are more than one. Each adjective needs to be separated by a comma.
- The young lady was tanned, beautiful, strong and lovely.
- London is beautiful, very large, cosmopolitan and polluted.
- I thought the waiter was rather rude, unhelpful and nosy.
Commas (,) – Numbers
Commas are used to divide large numbers in English. (NOT the full stop(.) as is applied in some countries). Do not use commas in decimals, we use full stops or points.
- 5,000 euros
- 60,0000 pounds
- 800,000 thousand USD
- 100 comma not necessary for numbers less than three.
Commas (,) – Subordinate clauses
Commas are used to subordinate clauses. Clauses that are are subordinated should be preceded by a comma. Although this rule comes under scrutiny because in many cases it’s not obligatory to put the comma there; it is largely subjective to the writer.
- If I see her, I’ll let her know.
- If you come to Amsterdam, flick me a message.
- The computer will work, only if the repair guy fixes the data base.
Commas (,) – Before direct speech
- She told me to, ‘be quiet and shut up’, which I found to be a little rude.
- As Aristotle was quoted as saying, ‘We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit’.
- They looked at me and said, ‘Take a good look at yourself’.
Commas (,) – Identifying expressions
When the expressions in a sentence are already identified in the clause, that is, the rest of the sentence shows exactly what it is or it is doing, then you must NOT use commas. When the clauses are non-identifying clauses, commas are preferable, but largely subjective.
- The man, in the house, had a beard. INCORRECT
- The man in the house had a beard. CORRECT
- The waiter, at the bar, knew what he was doing. INCORRECT
- The waiter at the bar knew what he was doing. CORRECT
Commas (,) – Word order
If expressions or words are put in odd positions in the sentence, then we normally separate these words and expressions with a comma(s).
- Susan, who is great person, lives by the river.
- I know a guy, James, who can do what you’re asking.
- The film, although exhausting, did make a few good points about humanity.
Modal auxiliary verbs:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling