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Okay, so according to the Grammar Queen Jane Straus, there are over 20 different rules AND exceptions to rules for the comma.
Yes, I can see your eyes glazing over already. Anyway, I’m not going to give you the full 20 today. Let’s make this a bit more bite sized for you.
Today I want to (even if it be for my own reminder) go over only 5 basic rules to the comma.
- Use commas when writing a list in a sentence:
e.g. He went shopping and bought bananas, bread, milk, and butter. (US version)
e.g. He went shopping and bought bananas, bread, milk and butter. (UK version)
2. Use a comma to separate two adjectives that can be interchanged in the sentence:
e.g. He was a strong, handsome man.
He was a handsome, strong man.
But don’t use a comma if you can’t interchange the adjectives:
e.g. It was a beautiful theatrical performance.
It was a theatrical beautiful performance. (You cannot interchange theatrical and beautiful)
3. Use a comma to separate clauses or when a clause ends with and, or, and but:
e.g. After he got home, he went to bed.
e.g. He got home, and went to bed.
e.g. He got home, but didn’t go to bed.
e.g. Did he go home, or did he go to bed?
4. Use a comma after a word that introduces a sentence (e.g. well, yes, why, hello, hey, no…etc)
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e.g. Yes, I can see your eyes are now glazing over again.
5. Use a comma if a phrase interrupts a sentence, e.g. by the way, on the other hand, however, etc.
e.g. She is, by the way, not worried about this problem.
I’m only giving you 5 to start with…otherwise it’s overload.
All the best.