ENG II B
WHY DO WE NEED COMMAS?
WHY DO WE NEED COMMAS?
Commas are necessary for clear expression of
ideas. As we read the following sentences,
notice how the placement of the comma affects
the meaning of each sentence.
EXAMPLES
1. When someone calls you, answer immediately.
2. When someone calls, you answer immediately.
Failing to use necessary commas may
confuse your reader.
WHY DO WE NEED COMMAS?
Failing to use necessary commas may
confuse your reader.
CONFUSING
The friends I have invited are Ruth Ann Jerry
Lee Derrick Martha and Julie.
HOW MANY FRIENDS?
WHY DO WE NEED COMMAS?
Failing to use necessary commas may
confuse your reader.
CLEAR
The friends I have invited are Ruth Ann, Jerry
Lee, Derrick, Martha, and Julie.
HOW MANY FRIENDS?
RULE 1:
USE THE COMMA TO SEPARATE ITEMS IN A
SERIES. *
Notice in the following examples that the number
of commas in a series is only one less that the
number of items in the series. *
EXAMPLES
1. All of my cousins, aunts, and uncles came to our
family reunion. [nouns]
2. My grandparents were excited, happy, and proud that
so many came. [adjectives]
3. The adults talked, laughed, took photographs, and
shared memories. [verbs]
Notice in the following examples that the number
of commas in a series is only one less that the
number of items in the series.
EXAMPLES
4. The children played in the yard, at the playground, and by the
pond. [prepositional phrases]
5. I shall always remember that weekend of feasting, telling
stories, and playing games. [gerund and gerund phrases (a
gerund is a verb ending in –ing)]
6. Those who had flown to the reunion, who had driven many
miles, or who had even taken time off from their jobs were glad
that they had come. [subordinate clauses]
#1
When the last two items in a series are joined by
and, you may omit the comma before the and if
the comma is not necessary to make the
meaning clear.
CLEAR WITH COMMA OMITTED
The salad contained lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and
radishes.
NOT CLEAR WITH COMMA OMITTED
Our school newspaper has editors for news, sports, humor, features
and art. How many editors are there, four or five? Does one person
serve as feature and art editor, or is an editor needed for each job?
When the last two items in a series are joined by
and, you may omit the comma before the and if
the comma is not necessary to make the
meaning clear.
NOT CLEAR WITH COMMA OMITTED
Our school newspaper has editors for news, sports, humor, features
and art. How many editors are there, four or five? Does one person
serve as feature and art editor, or is an editor needed for each job?
CLEAR WITH COMMA INCLUDED
Our school newspaper has editors for news, sports, humor,
features, and art. [five editors]
When the last two items in a series are joined by
and, you may omit the comma before the and if
the comma is not necessary to make the
meaning clear.
Some writers prefer always to
use the comma before the and,
whether or not it is necessary
for clarity.
For this class, ALWAYS
use the comma.
NOTE:
Some words —such as bread and butter,
rod and reel, table and chairs — are
used in pairs and may be set off as one
item in a series:
My favorite breakfast is milk, bacon and
eggs, and fruit. *
#2
a) If all items in a series are joined by and or or, do
not use commas to separate them.*
EXAMPLES
I need tacks and nails and a hammer.
Sam or Carlos or Yolanda can baby-sit tonight.
b) Independent clauses in a series are usually
separated by semicolons. Short independent
clauses, however, may be separated by commas.*
EXAMPLES
The sky grew dark; tree branches swayed in the wind; the cold
deepened; the first snowflakes fell.
#3
RULE 2:
USE COMMAS TO SEPARATE TWO OR MORE
ADJECTIVES PRECEDING A NOUN.*
EXAMPLE
Are you going to that hot, crowded, noisy mall?
When the last adjective in a series is thought of as part of the noun,
the comma before the adjective is omitted.*
EXAMPLES
I study in our small dining room.
I’ll drink cool, refreshing orange juice.
Compound nouns like dining room, orange juice, and post office
are considered single units — as though the two were one
word. In the previous sentences, small modifies the unit dining
room; cool and refreshing modify orange juice.
HOW TO TEST THE NEED FOR COMMAS IN RULE 2:
1. Insert the word and between the adjectives. If and fits
sensibly between the adjectives use the comma. *
I study in our small dining room.
I’ll drink cool, refreshing orange juice.
• In the first sentence, and cannot be logically inserted: small
and dining room — no comma.
• In the second sentence, and would be logical between the first
two adjectives (cool and refreshing) but not between the
second and third (refreshing and orange).
So, where does the comma go?
HOW TO TEST THE NEED FOR COMMAS IN RULE 2:
1. Change the order of the adjectives. If the order of the
adjectives cannot be reversed sensibly, no comma should be
used. *
I study in our small dining room.
I’ll drink cool, refreshing orange juice.
• Refreshing, cool orange juice would be correct, but not orange
refreshing juice or dining small room.
So, where does the comma go?
#4
RULE 2:
USE COMMAS TO SEPARATE TWO OR MORE ADJECTIVES
PRECEDING A NOUN.
1. Pick up the handout entitled “Commas Exercise 1 and 2” from
the bookcase in the front of the room.
2. Complete.
3. Fold in half after completed and wait QUIETLY until everyone
is done.
4. We will be checking our work together as a class.
#5A
On a scrap piece of paper, state what things need to
be analyzed with EACH: (*Hint: there is a guided notes
worksheet that COULD be of help to you!!! )
(I’m asking that you do this, because VERY SOON, we
will be coming back to this & using it to analyze
speeches.)
• Speaker
• Occasion
• Audience
• Purpose
• Subject
• Tone
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 3, AS NEEDED (KINESTHETIC PRACTICE)
#5B
STUDY COMMA RULES FOR FIVE MINUTES
IN PREPARATION FOR QUIZ.
#6
RULE 3: Use commas before for, and, nor,
but, or, yet and so when they join
independent clauses. *
F –for
A-and
N – nor
B- but
O – or
Y - yet
S - so *
Define Independent.
•
not controlled by another
•
able to function by self
•
self-supporting
Define Coordinating.
•
making parts come together
•
put things together
Define compound.
•
made by combining two or more things
A comma is used before a coordinating
conjunction when the words on each side
of the conjunction can stand alone as a
complete thought.*
The conjunction puts two things together
(coordinating) that can stand by themselves
(independent), therefore forming a compound
sentence (combining two or more things).
Maria cleared the table, and
Roland did the dishes.
Do not be misled by compound verbs,
which often make a sentence look as
though it contains two independent
clauses.*
The conjunction preceded by a comma puts
two things together (coordinating) that
can stand together by themselves
(independent).
Roland cleared the table and did the dishes.
Why is there no comma needed here?
EXAMPLES
•
•
•
•
•
•
Hector pressed the button, and the engine started up.
She doesn’t have much money, but she wants to help
you.
He will take karate lessons, or he will study judo.
She would never argue, nor would she complain to
anyone.
We wanted to see the new movie, for it had received
excellent reviews.
Naomi Carter has her own telephone, yet she still gets
calls on her parents’ phones.
#7
Pick up the handout from the front
bookcase and complete. Fold in half
hotdog style when finished, and wait for
the rest of the class to finish.
NOTE:
We will be trading and grading and this will
be taken up by your teacher.
#7
Study your notes over the comma rules until your
teacher passes out your work.
Learning Target 3 Formative Assessment 1
#8A
Study your notes over the comma rules until your
teacher passes out your work.
Learning Target 3 Formative Assessment 2
#8B
Study your notes over the comma rules in
preparation for quiz over Rule 3
Learning Target 3 Summative Assessment 1
#9
RULE 4: Use commas to set off
nonessential clauses and nonessential
participial phrases.*
*
CLAUSE
A clause is a group of
words that contains a
verb and a subject and is
used as a part of a
sentence
There are two kinds of
clauses:
1. Independent (complete
thought)
2. Subordinate (not a
complete thought dependent)
PARTICIPIAL PHRASE
Consists of a participle
and its related words,
such as modifiers and
complements, all of
which act together as an
adjective
A participle is a verb form
used as an adjective
i.e. pouring rain
waxed floor
darting suddenly
*
CLAUSE
Has a subject and a verb*
PARTICIPIAL PHRASE
A group of words*
*
A nonessential clause or a participial phrase
ADDS information that is NOT necessary
or needed to the main idea in the
sentence.*
*
Essential:
Necessary to retain or keep the meaning of the
-
sentence.
Covering it up changes the message conveyed.
One does not need to place commas around it.
-
That*
That clauses after nouns are always
essential. That clauses following a verb expressing
mental action are always essential.
*
Nonessential:
Does the part of the sentence act as more of a side
note rather than essential information?
-
-
If you cover up the clause, phrase, or word, does the
sentence still make sense?
Does the clause, phrase, or word interrupt the
flow of words in the original sentence?
If you move the element to a different position in
the sentence, does the sentence still make sense?
One must place commas around it.
Which, Who, Participle (usually ends in –ing or –ed)*
If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, then the
element in question is nonessential and should be set off with
commas.
*
Essential clauses
What does "essential" mean here? It
means the clause is needed to help the
reader know exactly what you are talking
about.
The man who is wearing the red hat is my science
teacher.
The man who is wearing the green hat is my math
teacher.
We need the adjective clauses in these two sentences
to IDENTIFY which man teaches science and which one
teaches math, right?
*
The man who is wearing the red hat is my
science teacher.
The man who is wearing the green hat is
my math teacher.
Check it out.... If you take the adjective
clause out of these sentences, can you still
tell me WHICH MAN is the science teacher
and which man is my math teacher?
*
The man who is wearing the red hat is my science
teacher.
The man who is wearing the green hat is my math
teacher.
The man is my science teacher. (Which man are we referring
to? You can't tell because "the man" is not specific.)
The man is my math teacher. (Which man are we referring to?
Are we talking about the same man? We don't know.)
In these sentences, the adjective that we took out
was essential to the sentence because it told us
"which man" we are talking about. It helped us
identify that man.
*
Non-Essential Clauses
•What does "non-essential" mean? It means that the adjective
clause is NOT needed in order to IDENTIFY the referent (what we
are talking about). It is simply additional information.
•Look at the non-essential clause below. The information about
the hats is NOT essential to know which "Mr. Smith" or which "Mr.
Jones" we are talking about.
Mr. Smith, who is wearing the red hat, is my science teacher.
Mr. Jones, who is wearing the green hat, is my math teacher.
*
Non-Essential Clauses
Mr. Smith, who is wearing the red hat, is my science teacher.
Mr. Jones, who is wearing the green hat, is my math teacher.
Mr. Smith, who is wearing the red hat, is my science teacher.
Mr. Jones, who is wearing the green hat, is my math teacher.
Double-Check: Can we understand who we are talking about,
even if we eliminate the adjective clauses?
Mr. Smith is my science teacher.
Mr. Jones is my math teacher.
Yes we can! This means the clause is non-essential
1. Anthony who won the race became the
first one in our class to receive a trophy.*
2. My left ankle which I broke last winter is
still too weak for track.*
3. The teacher was annoyed when Hillary
who lives right across the street from
school was late.*
4. The cats sitting in the window are called
Tiger Lily and Sam.*
5. Our City Hall which was built in 1912 is
now too small.*
6. Mahalia Jackson who grew up singing in a
church choir became a famous gospel
singer.*
6. Mahalia Jackson who grew up singing in a
church choir became a famous gospel
singer.*
7. Children who get everything they want
often appreciate nothing.*
7. Children who get everything they want
often appreciate nothing.*
8. Anita who has no sense of humor couldn’t
see what made the joke funny.*
8. Anita who has no sense of humor couldn’t
see what made the joke funny.*
9. Some people don’t enjoy any game that
they don’t win.*
9. Some people don’t enjoy any game that
they don’t win.*
10. Have you heard of Lorraine Hansberry
who was a famous playwright?*
10. Have you heard of Lorraine Hansberry
who was a famous playwright?*
#
Pick up the handout entitled “Participial
Phrases” from the bookcase in the front
of the room. Begin reading.
#
*
As you read the following sentences aloud,
pause and lower your voice to indicate
that each boldfaced clause or participial
phrase is not essential to the basic
meaning of the sentence.
NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES:
Eileen Murray, who is at the top of her class,
wants to go to medical school.
*
Continue reading aloud:
NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES:
Texas, which, has the most farms in the United
States, produces one fourth of the country’s oil.
NONESSENTIAL PHRASES:
Tim Ricardo, hoping to make the swim team,
practiced every day.
The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is
a fantasy that has been translated into many
different languages.
*
Each boldfaced clause or phrase can be omitted
because it is not essential to identify the
word it modifies.
Eileen Murray, who is at the top of her
class, wants to go to medical school.
Who is at the top of her class does not
identify Eileen Murray. It can be omitted
without changing the meaning of the
sentence:
Eileen Murray wants to go to medical school.
*
Each boldfaced clause or phrase can be omitted
because it is not essential to identify the
word it modifies.
Tim Ricardo, hoping to make the swim
team, practiced every day.
Hoping to make the swim team does not
identify Tim Ricards. It can be omitted
without changing the meaning of the
sentence:
Tim Ricardo practiced every day.
#
*
When the clause or phrase is necessary to the
meaning of a sentence, or when it tells which
one, the clause or phrase is essential, and
commas are NOT used.
Notice how the meaning of each of the following
sentences changes when the essential clause of phrase
is omitted.
All students whose names are on that list must report
here.
A contest that I might be able to win is described in that
newspaper.
*
When the clause or phrase is necessary to the
meaning of a sentence, or when it tells which
one, the clause or phrase is essential, and
commas are NOT used.
Notice how the meaning of each of the following
sentences changes when the essential clause of phrase
is omitted.
Swimmers hoping to make the swim team must practice
extra hours. [Not all swimmers; just those hoping to
make the swim team.]
A book written by J.R.R. Tolkien has been widely
translated. [Not any book, but the one by J.R.R.
Tolkien.]
#
1. Pick up the handout entitled “Commas Learning
Target 3 – Formative 3, Exercise 1” from the
bookcase in the front of the room.
2. Complete.
3. Fold in half and wait for all students to finish.
RULE 4: Use commas to set off nonessential clauses and
nonessential participial phrases.*
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COMMAS - Rowan County Schools