After writing a blog post last month about commas, I discovered many of you get as excited about punctuation rules as I do!
It’s so important for professionalism to have a completely error-free, or “clean,” manuscript, and that includes making sure your punctuation is correct.
So let’s look at some more comma rules.
The serial comma
A serial comma is used to separate three or more items in a list, like this:
Correct example: I like horses, dogs, and pigs.
In this example there’s a comma before and. That comma, in other words, the final comma in a list of items and the comma before the word and, is called the Oxford comma. In this example the comma is correctly placed.
However, this is also a correct example:
Correct example with no Oxford comma: I like horses, dogs and pigs.
In other words, you do not have to put the comma before the and before the last item in the list.
There’s lots of debate about whether to use the Oxford comma or not.
What matters – be consistent. Either use the Oxford comma or don’t, but don’t mix it up.
Comma with adverb clause
Remember an adverb describes a verb, adjective, or adverb.
A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb.
So an adverb clause acts like an adverb.
The adverb clause begins with a subordinating conjunction. A subordinating conjunction is a connecting word, such as because, since, as, if, although, before, after, while (Here’s a list of subordinating conjunctions).
Let’s look at some examples. Note the adverb clause is italicized.
See if you can figure out the comma rule by looking at the examples.
Because we love snow, we planned a trip to Montana in January.
While you were working out, I fixed dinner.
I’ll give you a ride if you get here by 9:30.
Can you see the rule for the placement of the comma?
The rule for commas with adverb clauses:
When the adverb clause begins the sentence, use a comma after it.
When the adverb clause comes at the end of the sentence, no comma is needed.
As soon as I hear from him, I’ll let you know the plan.
I’ve played the piano since I was young.
Because I know her so well, I know not to call her early in the morning.
We’re leaving early because we want to get a good seat.
I hope this helps as you proofread and finalize your manuscripts for publication.
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