Are You a Comma-kazi*?
--a destroyer of sentence
meaning?
•
•
•
Let’s eat Grandma! -----> Let’s eat, Grandma!
While we were eating a rattlesnake approached our campsite. ---> ?
If you cook Ingrid will wash the dishes.--> ?
*A kamikazi is defined by Dictionary.com as the following:
“3. a person or thing that behaves in a wildly reckless or destructive manner.”
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UWF WRITING LAB RULES
OF THUMB FOR COMMA
USAGE
from Real Good Grammar, Too
by Mamie Webb Hixon
PowerPoint Created by April
Turner Revised by Mamie Webb
Hixon June 25, 2010
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Let’s eat Grandpa.
Whenever you can come and visit me in Hawaii.
While we were eating a rattlesnake approached our
campsite.
If you cook Ingrid will wash the dishes.
Without the comma in the sentences
above, the sentence parts collide,
causing misreadings and impeding
communication.
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WHICH THEORY DO YOU
USE?
Comma Sprinkling
Dramatic Pause
When in doubt, leave it out.
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Do not place commas because of pauses.
USE COMMAS based on rules and concepts:
(1) Introductory Elements
(2) Items in a series
(3) Interrupters
(4) Nonessential/nonrestrictive information
Because of his technological skills set (1) modems
(2) bandwidths (2) applications (2) and programming
languages (3) for example (3) dance continually in
the mind of Microsoft creator Bill Gates (4) a
renowned philanthropist.
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“The Oxford Comma”
 Stephen Colbert (6/3/10) quoting Strunk and White in
defense of the "Oxford Comma.”
 http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-reportvideos/310042/june-03-2010/vampire-weekend
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USE A COMMA
 With one of the fanboys
(for, and, nor, but, or,
yet, so) to connect two
independent
clauses/sentences.
-The political pressure
continued, and the candidate
resigned.
-Columbus wanted to find a
new way of reaching the
Indies, and he also hoped to
prove a new theory about the
shape of the earth.
-Many are called, but few are
chosen.
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DO NOT USE A COMMA
 With one of the fanboys
(for, and, nor, but, or,
yet, so) to connect
compound parts of
sentences.
-Injuries are common and
probably inevitable for
professional athletes.
If no sentence follows the
fanboy, then no comma is
necessary.
-Injuries can cause athletes to
miss games and can even
end their careers.
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DO NOT USE A COMMA
 Especially with “and”
when “and” does not
separate two sentences
The senator brought
millions of dollars to his
home state of Kentucky
and was an ardent
opponent of the war in
Iraq.
A comma is not spelled
comma a-n-d; that is,
do not place a comma
before “and” unless
“and” connects two
sentences.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate introductory
elements from the main
part of the sentence.
 Introductory elements
include words, phrases,
and clauses.
If I do not hear from you
within a week, I will
assume that the
information we already
have is adequate.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate nonrestrictive
(nonessential or non-defining)
information from the rest of the
sentence.
-Westerners generally understand
very little about the Middle East,
where much of the world’s oil is
located.
-The scout leader, tired and hungry,
trudged up the hill.
-Women, who have rarely been
treated equally in the job market,
still tend to be relatively underpaid.
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DO NOT USE A COMMA
 To set off restrictive (essential or
defining) information with
commas .
-Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn is
on the high school censored list.
Children who like to play with
electrical outlets should be
carefully monitored.
The town where I was born, which
has a population of 3,000, offers
very little in the way of
entertainment for teenagers.
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USE A COMMA
 After any proper noun, the
modifier will be nonrestrictive.
-Herbert Hoover, elected President
in 1928, was the first president born
west of the Mississippi.
 After any qualifying common
noun, the modifier will be
nonrestrictive.
The highest mountain in the world,
which resisted the efforts of
climbers until 1953, looks truly
forbidding and formidable from the
air.
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DO NOT USE A COMMA
 With a restrictive (defining,
limiting) modifier. Note that
“that” clauses are always
restrictive.
-The bus that I ride to work is
always late, but the people who
work with me are always early.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate direct
quotations from the phrase
identifying the speaker.
-John remarked, “No fishing
is allowed in the Gulf
because of the oil spill.”
DO NOT USE A COMMA PRECEDING AN
INDIRECT QUOTATION.
-The President said that he
would make four “nonpolitical”
speeches in the month before
the election.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate the names of
smaller geographic units
from the names of larger
units.
-Denver, Colorado, is called
the Mile High City.
-Juneteenth is celebrated in
Laredo, Texas, every year
on June 19.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate the names of
smaller geographic units
from the names of larger
units.
The city of Liverpool, England, is
well-known for being the home of
the Beatles and for having a
champion soccer team.
Send all correspondences regarding
the Pelican Drop to Stewart
Hoffman, Public Relations, City of
Pensacola, 123 Palafox Street,
Pensacola, Florida 32501, by
December 12.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate items in a date.
Omit the comma when just the
month and year or month and
day are given or when the date
is written in military sequence.
-Kennedy was assassinated on
November 22, 1963, in Dallas,
Texas.
-The stock market crashed on
29 October 1929.
-May 1968 was the time of the
famous uprising.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate names of titles or
degrees that follow the name.
-Harold Johnson, Ph.D., will speak in the
Commons on Tuesday.
Professor Monica Wu, faculty adviser, is not
holding office hours today.
OMIT THE COMMA PRECEDING A ROMAN
NUMERAL DENOTING BIRTH RANK.
USAGE IS DIVIDED REGARDING THE
COMMA WITH “JR.” AND “SR.”
Queen Elizabeth II
Leon Rankins III
Martin Luther King, Jr. OR
Martin Luther King Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. was a founding member
of Hollywood’s Rat Pack.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate short, closely
interrelated clauses in a
series.
-Savanna phoned, Justin stopped
by, and Alex left a message.
-I came, I saw, I conquered.
-It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s
Superman.
 To mark allowable omissions
of repeated words, especially
verbs.
-Your analysis is superb; your
execution, appalling.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate three or more items
or phrases in a series.
-Golfing, swimming, and bowling
are my favorite activities.
-My worries keep returning to
inflation, unemployment, and
natural disasters.
DO NOT USE A COMMA IF THE ITEMS IN THE SERIES ARE
ALREADY SEPARATED BY CONJUNCTIONS.
-To lose weight, Cyndi jogs and
swims and lifts weights.
-Critics described the film as big
and brash and brilliant.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate cumulative adjectives (a series of
two or more adjectives not connected by a
conjunction) if the order of the adjectives can be
reversed and still retain the same meaning.
-Your friend is a clever, sensitive person.
[Your friend is a sensitive, clever person.]
-Leftist critics continue to shred her as a cynical,
shallow, ill-informed opportunist.
-The pundit called the politician a selfaggrandizing, gaffe-prone, incompetent narcissist.
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DO NOT USE A COMMA
 To separate a series of two or more adjectives not
connected by a conjunction if the order of the
adjectives cannot be reversed and still retain the
same meaning.
The docudrama presents an intensely vivid,
compelling,
NO COMMA
anxiety-producing⌃ account of the tsunami.
NO COMMA
I prefer reading a long⌃ short story to reading a
long Grisham novel.
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USE A COMMA
 To provide clarity and prevent
misreading, even if none of the
other rules apply.
-We left him, assured that he
would fail.
(We were sure that he would fail.)
-We left him assured that he
would fail.
(He was sure that he would fail.)
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USE A COMMA
 To separate interrupters or parenthetical
and transitional words from the rest of the
sentence.
-Most of them, however, do try to act
friendly and courteous.
-The deficit, as a matter of fact, has
continued to grow.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate contradictory
statements from the rest of
the sentence.
-The concert is scheduled for
today, not tomorrow.
-The child needs help, not
admonishment.
-It was a difficult, but by no
means impossible,
assignment to do.
-In 1776, the U.S. became a
country governed by “the
consent of the governed,” not
by a monarch.
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USE A COMMA
 To separate names used in
direct address or other
isolates such as yes, no, and
thank you from the rest of the
sentence.
-Tell me, Shelby, did you vote
for Sarah Palin?
-No, I am voting for myself.
-Hello, Yohanssen,
-Greetings, Classmates:
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USE A COMMA
 To separate tag questions from the rest of the
sentence.
-You did that on purpose, didn't you?
 To separate words and abbreviations that
introduce an example or an illustration, including
namely, that is, to wit, i.e., e.g., for example, and
for instance.
-Many of my friends, for example, Fred, Dean,
and Pete, like to golf.
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LET’S PRACTICE
 I have told one million lies in my life and that is the
Gospel truth.
 …life, and that…
 As a child I was the kind of kid my mother told me not
to play with.
 As a child, I was…
 Denver which is the capital of Colorado has an altitude
of one mile.
 Denver, which is the capital of Colorado, has…
 The city which is the capital of Colorado has an altitude
of one mile.
 No commas (restrictive)
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LET’S PRACTICE A LITTLE MORE
 Linda asked “Do you think she’ll ever speak to him
again?”
 Linda asked, “Do you…
 Paxton Florida is the home of the mighty Bobcats.
 Paxton, Florida, is the…
 The Declaration of Independence was signed on
August 2 1776.
 …August 2, 1776.
 July 2015 is the date for the city’s centennial
celebration.
 No comma (2 items in the date)
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MORE PRACTICE
 The commencement speaker was Juliet Brown Ph.D.
 …Juliet Brown, Ph.D.
 He shot pool he drank Anchor Steam beer and he
rarely went home.
 He shot pool, he drank Anchor Steam beer, and he
rarely went home.
 To the winners we give prizes; to the losers
consolation; and to the spectators a good show.
 …to the loser, consolation; and to the spectators, a
good show.
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ALMOST THERE
 The morning after a policeman came to the
door.
 The morning after, a policeman…
 Jeff collected a change of clothing shoes and
golf gear before he set off for the day.
 …a change of clothing, shoes, and golf gear…
 A large green bug settled on the torn autumn
leaf.
 No correction is necessary.
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WE’RE IN THE HOME STRETCH
 The order however was not filled that day.
 The order, however, was not…
 Pneumonia begins with a p not an n.
 …with a p, not an n.
 Thank you Susan.
 Thank you, Susan.
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LAST ONES
You’re going aren’t you?
 You’re going, aren’t you?
 When you walk does your left arm swing with
your right or left leg?
 When you walk, . . .
 Many of my friends for example Rachel,
Jennifer, and Allen, enjoy going to the movies.
 Many of my friends, for example, Rachel,…
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Commas I PPt - University of West Florida