The SCHS dress code is intended to promote a positive and respectful learning environment and to reflect the school’s Christian...
Commas are important for deciphering meaning:
- Commas for lists of three or more terms with a single conjunction
Rule: use a comma if it can be replaced by and or or
- The Four refreshing fruit flavours of Opal Fruits are orange, lemon, strawberry and lime.
- I had a marvellous time eating in taverns, swimming in the turquoise water, getting sloshed on retinas and not sending postcards.
- The colours of the Union Jack are red, white and blue.
- The colours of the Union Jack are red, white, and blue. (Oxford comma)
Can be useful when there are other ands in the list
- I went to the chemist, Marks & Spencer, and NatWest.
- Commas tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop. (4 points)
- Commas tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour and stop. (3 points)
List of Adjectives
Use a comma where the modifying words are all modifying the same thing
It was a dark, stormy night. He was a tall, bearded man.
- The night was dark and stormy. The man was tall and bearded.
It was an endangered white rhino.
- The rhino isn’t endangered and white.
Australian red wines are better than Australian white ones
- The wines aren’t Australian and red
The grand old Duke of York had ten thousand men.
- The Duke of York wasn’t grand and old.
My big fat Greek wedding.
- The wedding was not big and fat and Greek.
- Commas for joining.
Combining two complete sentences using such conjunctions as and, or, but, while and yet.
- The boys wanted to stay up until midnight, but they grew tired and fell asleep.
- I thought I had the biggest bag of Opal Fruits, yet Cathy proved me wrong.
- It was the Queen’s birthday on Saturday, she got a lot of presents.
- Jim woke up in an unfamiliar bed, he felt lousy.
- It was the Queen’s birthday on Saturday; nevertheless, she had no post whatever.
- Jim woke up in his own bed; however, he felt great.
- Commas filling gaps.
Using a comma to imply missing words.
- Annie had dark hair; Sally, fair.
- Commas before direct speech
- The Queen said, “Doesn’t anyone know it’s my birthday?”
- Commas setting off interjections
- Blimy, what would we do without it?
- Enclose parenthetic expressions (non-restrictive clauses)
Rule: non-restrictive clauses do not identify or define the noun ( like Billy the Kid). They do not limit or define, they merely add something.
- John Keats, who never did any harm to anyone, is often invoked by grammarians.
- I am, of course, going steadily nuts.
- Nicholas Nickleby, published in 1839, uses a great many commas.
- The Queen, who had double the number of birthdays of most people, celebrated yet another birthday.
- The people in the queue who managed to get tickets were very satisfied.
- Not everyone in the queue managed to get tickets.
- The people in the queue, who managed to get tickets, were very satisfied.
- Everyone in the queue got tickets.
Final Rule: Don’t use commas like a stupid person.
- Leonora walked on her head, a little higher than usual.
- The driver managed to escape from the vehicle before it sank and swam to the river side.
- Don’t guess, use a timer or watch.
- The convict said the judge is mad.
- Leonora walked on, her head a little higher than usual.
- The driver managed to escape from the vehicle before it sank, and swam to the river side.
- Don’t guess; use a timer or watch.
- The convict, said the judge, is mad.
Other bad examples
- The society decided not to prosecute the owners of the Windsor Safari Park, where animals, have allegedly been fed live to snakes and lions, on legal advice.
- Parents, are being urged to take advantage of a scheme designed to prevent children getting lost in supermarkets.
- What was different back then, was if you disagreed with the wrong group, you could end up with no head!
Adapted from “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss and “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.