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Commas…The Continuing Story

You can read Part One, Commas…To Avoid Confusion, here.

Commas. The story continues to unfold. In this second installment, we will take a quick look at how commas work with appositives, emphasizing adverbs, greetings, numerals, and last but not least, commas between dependent and independent clauses.

Right, let’s get started.

Appositives

First it is necessary to understand what an appositive is. An appositive is a phrase or word that gives meaning to, defines, or modifies a pronoun or noun. For example, the underlined appositive relates to the nouns preceding them.

I, Monica Eludes, would like to understand this concept.
Harry Potter, child wizard and popular fiction character, is the creation of J. K. Rowlings.

A word of warning! Be aware of the difference between:

My friend’s familiar Tagtail, can’t fly.  We have no indication that Tagtail is the only familiar.
My friend’s familiar, Tagtail, can’t fly.  Now a specific familiar, Tagtail, is being described.

Emphasizing Adverbs

Of course as budding authors and fantasy writers, we don’t overuse adverbs, but when they are needed, and commas are part of the sentence…we need to know how to place the comma. Right?

I cast the spell, accidently, that’s why there’s a frog on your desk.
I accidently cast the spell. (If you use the adverb before the verb, it doesn’t need a comma.)

Greetings and Signing Off

Commas are used when addressing letters, and signing off.

Dear Sir,
Hi there,
Yours Truly,
Yours Sincerely,
Hope to hear from you soon,

Today’s use of commas in letter writing is changing. The best advice is to keep your use consistent. If you choose to use a comma after the greeting, use it again when signing off. If you don’t use it after the greeting, don’t use it signing off.

Numerals

The comma is used in numbers over three digits long. Counting from the right, a comma goes between the third digit and the fourth, the sixth and seventh, etc.

A short story might have 5,000 words, a novel 82,000 words while a collection of writing could have a word count of 1,000,000 words.

In scientific reports and tables, the comma is often not used at, all but replaced by a space.

1 000 kilos
1 235 999 kilos
23 009 kilos

Dependant and Independent Clauses

A comma can be placed between a dependant clause and an independent clause, where the dependant clause comes first. Now, a dependant clause (according to Word Web) is a clause in a complex sentence that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, and that functions within the sentence as a noun, adjective or adverb. An independent clause (according to Word Web) is a clause in a complex sentence that can stand alone as a complete sentence.

So, once you have absorbed that… we can continue to an example.

Once cast, the spell began to work.
After sunset, the dragons returned to their lair.

These commas are optional, but give an indication of where to pause. If you had…

The dragons returned to their lair after sunset. There is no need of a comma at all.

So, hope that clarifies a few things for you. Not sure if it all makes sense to me yet, but I think things are becoming clearer.

Title Image by creativelifebydesign

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Love these articles 🙂

  2. Avatar Dan J. says:

    “I cast the spell, accidently[sic], that’s why there’s a frog on your desk.”

    I normally wouldn’t bring it up but this IS an article on correctly using commas. “I cast the spell, accidentally.” and “That’s why there’s a frog on your desk.” are both complete sentences. Shouldn’t the second comma be a semicolon to avoid a comma splice?

    • Dan,
      Ahh, well spotted. Another example…
      I tried, incorrectly, to place the comma.
      Even when trying to use commas according to given examples, I can misplace them.
      Thanks for the headsup.

  3. Avatar Brent says:

    I am getting familiar with comma usage. Please explain why you placed a comma before “and that” in the following sentence?

    “Now, a dependant clause (according to Word Web) is a clause in a complex sentence that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, and that functions within the sentence as a noun, adjective or adverb.”

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