Charis for Writing : Lesson 52 Using commas effectively II

To comma or not to comma: that is the question. 

A warm welcome to another exciting lesson. As you have been expecting, we will continue our last lesson on effective comma use. We established in our last lesson that commas are used to 1. set off the introductory elements of a sentence, 2. separate three or more items in a list and 3. separate an additional piece of information in the middle of a sentence.

I am, therefore, excited to share with you three other uses of the comma. You should be good to use commas after this lesson.

4. DO: Use a comma before a conjunction that joins two complete sentences to form one sentence. These conjunctions are usually or, but, and.

Eg: We wanted to leave the room, but he insisted on staying.

DON’T: Never use commas before the conjunction when the parts of the sentence before and after the conjunction are not complete sentences.

Eg: Sushi and kebab are two of my favourite foods

5. DO: Use a comma to separate a dependent clause and an independent clause when the dependent clause comes first in the sentence. Now, what are these?  A dependent clause refers to a group of words (with a verb) that has a meaning but cannot make complete sense on its own. An example is “if it rains”. And an independent clause speaks for itself and does not need any help; it is a complete sentence. For example “we will watch a movie”.

Eg: Even though I was angry, I gave him all that he was demanding.

DON’T: Never use the comma to separate them if the independent clause comes first.

Eg: I gave him all that he was demanding even though I was angry.

6. DO: Use a comma to separate transitional words and expressions when they appear at the beginning of the sentence and two commas if they appear in the middle of the sentence. There is a long list of transitional words which includes therefore, then, on the contrary, in addition, consequently, to conclude, next, first of all, and nevertheless. My favorite, however, is however.

Eg: We have agreed, therefore, that the man was right. Nonetheless, we think the punishment for the lady was too much.

DON’T: Do not use the comma if it is not a transitional word or if it is the last word in the sentence. Transition deals with the smooth movement from one point to the other.

Eg: The bride was the first to arrive, and the groom came next.
I would like to appreciate God first of all.

Ignore the traditional view that commas are used to express a pause when speaking or reading. This is unrealistic and is responsible for a lot of the comma abuse around.

We hope this lesson was useful. You can also let us know if anything was not well understood. Catch us next week for another interesting lesson. Let’s keep sharing.

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