My hometown is Onekama, Michigan. But nobody knows how to say it, so many people have shirts that say “1,” making fun of tourists’ attempts at pronouncing it. (Get it? “one comma.”) But those who are from the place know the real pronunciation: “Oh-neh-ka-ma.”
Now, for writing, how should we use commas? Here are four easy tips.
Commas are necessary after many transition words. First, use commas when you are talking about time. Next, they are helpful for describing several ideas one-by-one. Finally, you can let the reader known your conclusion is coming.
You can also use them for examples. For example, use after words like “for example” and “for instance.”
It can get boring to have every sentence begin with a transition word. You can, first, put the word inside commas to add variety. Not everyone, however, should do this because it is more advanced.
A. Can you see the difference between these two?
-This is easy, and it’s fun.
-This is easy and fun.
Use a comma if there is a subject and verb after words like “and,” “so,” and “but.” What’s a subject? Words like I, you, it, Oprah, the end of the world, sinister thoughts, or binging.
This example doesn’t need a comma because there is no subject after the connecting word.
-I swim and run.
The next one has a subject, the word “you.”
-I swim, and you run.
B. Other kinds of connecting are lists.
-I’m going to grandma’s and bringing an appendix, a borax box, a can opener, and dental floss.
C. Another group includes words like “if,” “when,” “after.” When these words begin a sentence, use a comma in the middle of the sentence.
-If you read this, you will never make mistakes again. Ever.
-After you understand commas, you can make money editing other people’s writing.
At the end, these work well when you are writing directly to someone or having a conversation.
-You understand the commas so far, don’t you?
-Then you can do them perfectly, right?
Want examples? Reread each of the above tips—the examples are magically hidden inside.
Test yourself—add commas if the sentences need them
- If the teacher is gone we don’t study.
- Because it snowed I didn’t go outside.
- I will finish high school go to college and get a job.
- My friends and I are going to Meijer and Rivertown Mall.
- First I take a shower.
- Daniel tells me to speak English but I don’t want to.
- I can’t wait until graduation.
- I practiced spelling but I still failed!
- When I’m hungry I buy food at Café Lulu.
- Daniel Sara Tami Victoria Tom Adam Erica David Kristen and Marzena are my teachers.