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(Dr. Brian Campbell)

“Let’s eat, Grandma!”

“Let’s eat Grandma!”

Commas Save Lives


In order to write professionally, you must learn to properly use commas.  Please carefully review the following information.

Comma Errors:  Commas are used to set off clauses, phrases, or words that come before the main clause.  For example, "Overall, a comma is a great tool to help provide clarity in writing."  Commas are also used to set off clauses, phrases, or words in the middle of a sentence that are not essential to its meaning.  For example, "Dr. Campbell, who is new to the faculty, is a real stickler when it comes to proper grammar and punctuation."  There are other rules for the proper use of commas.  See:  Commas

Sentences often begin with introductory words or phrases.  Certain introductory words always require a comma:

Therefore, However, Accordingly, Hence, Overall

Opening Words or Phrases that Require Commas:

Openings:  To begin with, Initially, At the onset, For a time, In the beginning, At the outset, To start with, There have been several different approaches,
Following On:  Subsequently, Later on, It follows that, Along the same lines, Along somewhat different lines, Next, Also, A little while later, Immediately after, Over the following years, In subsequent years, Subsequent research,
Quantitative: For the most part, Overall, In general,
Similarity:  Similarly, In a similar fashion, Likewise, Also
Difference: Along somewhat different lines, Taking a different approach, Taking a somewhat different approach,
Contrast:  In sharp contrast, In marked contrast; By way of contrast, On the other hand, On the contrary, However,
In General:  In general, Generally speaking, Overall, For the most part,
Examples:  For example, By way of example,
Specifics: In particular, Specifically,
Illustration: Therefore, Thus, For example, For instance, In particular, Specifically, Namely,
Comparison:  In comparison, Comparatively speaking, In other words,
Emphasis:  Surprisingly, Above all, Truly, Not surprisingly, Above all else,
Concession:  Conceding the point, Acknowledging this position, In agreement,
Summary/Conclusion:  In summary, Taking everything into consideration, Looking back over these various approaches, In conclusion, 

Using Commas to Set Apart Non-Essential Information 
in the Middle of a Sentence:

Example #1:  If you use commas to set apart nonessential information, such as this, the sentence should still “make sense” if you remove the information between the commas.

Note:  If we remove “such as this” from the above sentence, it still makes sense. 

Example #2:   Christian counselors who utilize prayer, either silent or audible, should make sure they have the client’s permission.

Use a Comma Between Elements (including before and and or) in a 
Series of Three or More Items (APA Manual, p. 88)


…the therapist utilized prayer, scriptures, and meditation
…a therapist should never use insults, jesting, or put-downs in counseling.


…the therapist utilized prayer, scriptures and meditation
…a therapist should never use insults, jesting or put-downs in counseling.