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Commas
(Dr. Brian Campbell)

 
“Let’s eat, Grandma!”

“Let’s eat Grandma!”

Commas Save Lives

Students:

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)

Correct:

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

Incorrect:

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