Two Independent Clauses in a Compound Sentence with a Coordinating Conjunction

When you have two sentences that can stand on their own and are connecting it with a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), you must put a comma on the word before the conjunction.

Examples:

  • Correct: Robert blushed in embarrassment, but the girls giggled in laughter.
  • Incorrect: Robert’s pants ripped, and tore straight through to his underwear.
    • Why: You do not need a comma here because Robert’s pants are the implied subject. The second half cannot stand by itself.

Series

If you are listing more than two people, places, or things, you must use commas to break up the series.

Examples:

  • Correct: I want a dog, a cat, and two turtles for Christmas.
  • Incorrect: Bobby hit me with a rock, and a rubber band!
    • Why: You do not need this comma because you only have two in your list.

Coordinate Adjectives

Use a comma to separate two consecutive adjectives (aka describing words) when they are describing the same noun. The adjectives have to have equal importance.

Examples:

  • Correct: I traveled in that humid, smelly car.
  • Incorrect: I love that nice, prickly, little girl.
    • Why: There should be no comma between prickly and little because they are not both equally important. Little is not equal to prickly. She is a little girl, who happens to be nice and prickly.

Use a comma to separate two consecutive adjectives (aka describing words) when they are describing the same noun. The adjectives have to have equal importance.

Examples:

  • Correct: I traveled in that humid, smelly car.
  • Incorrect: I love that nice, prickly, little girl.
    • Why: There should be no comma between prickly and little because they are not both equally important. Little is not equal to prickly. She is a little girl, who happens to be nice and prickly.

Introductory Phrase or Element

An intro phrase enhances a sentence, but without a phrase, the sentence can stand on its own. You put the comma in to break down the sentence and make it generally less confusing.

Examples:

  • Correct: After worrying all night, Johnny finally came home at twelve. or In fact, I do have a platypus.
  • Incorrect: After we ate my mom said it was time to go to bed.
    • Why: Using the comma makes the sentence clearer and breaks up the sentence for the reader.

An intro phrase enhances a sentence, but without a phrase, the sentence can stand on its own. You put the comma in to break down the sentence and make it generally less confusing.

Examples:

  • Correct: After worrying all night, Johnny finally came home at twelve. or In fact, I do have a platypus.
  • Incorrect: After we ate my mom said it was time to go to bed.
    • Why: Using the comma makes the sentence clearer and breaks up the sentence for the reader.

Sentence Interrupters

Contribute to the sentence but you can take them out and the sentence would mean basically the same thing. It interrupts the flow of the sentence.

Examples:

  • Correct: I made, in my opinion, an excellent point.
  • Incorrect: I will as long as you’re willing drive you to Alaska.
    • Why: Commas have to go around the italicized phrase because it interrupts the flow of the sentence.

People in Dialogue

When you quote someone or address someone, you need to set it of by a comma.

Examples:

  • Correct: She said, “Mary, I love you!” or “I told her,” Susan said, “that I loved her.”
  • Incorrect:I asked “who are you?”
    • Why: You need the comma to set off the quote to connect the two parts of the sentence.

Contact Us

Have more questions? Visit the Writing Studio, and we’ll be happy to help!

Contact Information

Campus Address
Writing Studio, Kemp Library
Title of Department Leader
Director, Writing Studio
Name
Sandra Eckard
Phone:
(570) 422-3593