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Commas to Separate:


1.  Commas separate two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS)


Mistake:  John went to the store and Susan stayed home with the kids. 


2.  Use a comma after dependent clauses that come first in a sentence and after introductory phrases that are 4+ words long (or intro phrases that are confusing)


Mistake:  When I looked into the mirror I got scared.

Mistake:  Making an effort to be as quiet as possible I left the house.

Mistake:  Inside the dog shook all the water off of himself.


3.  Use a comma to separate words, phrases, and clauses in a series (3+)


Mistake:  I bought a dress shoes and a purse.

Mistake:  I went down the hall into the room and over to the table.

Mistake:  Once I have eaten once I have slept and once I have showered we will talk.


4.  Use a comma to separate adjectives not joined by “and” that modify the same noun (if you cannot switch them, they don’t require a comma)


Mistake:  He is a handsome well-liked guy.


Commas to Set Off:


1.  Use commas to set off adjectives in pairs that follow a noun


Mistake:  The kids exhausted and hungry went home.


2.  Use commas to set off non-essential (can be removed and the sentence will not change in meaning) words, phrases, and clauses


Mistake:  The boy who was 12 had to go to the hospital.


3.  Use commas to set off mild interjections like “oh,” “well,” “yes,” and “no.”


Mistake:  Yes I am planning to attend the game.


4.  Use commas to set off nouns used as direct address


Mistake:  John I need you to pick up Sarah.