Common Mistakes

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Commas in a Series

Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses in a series. A conjunction goes between the last two items of the series. While some authorities say that the comma before the conjunction is optional, leaving it out may cause confusion, so it is better to include it. Words: Use commas to separate

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Commas with Adjectives Following Nouns

Sometimes for emphasis adjectives or paired adjectives follow the noun they modify. The adjective or adjective pair is then set off by commas. Correct: The car, bright red, stood out in the parking lot. The adjective pair, if coordinate adjectives, must use the word and to separate the two adjectives. Correct: The dessert, sweet and

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Want followed by In, Out, Off, Down, or Up

The verb want is not supposed to be followed by an adverb or preposition indicating direction such as in, out, up, off or down. When using standard English, complete the sentence by including the words left out of such expressions as want in or want down. Incorrect: He wants out of the contract. Correct: He

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Commas with Paired Adjectives

Coordinate Adjectives If two adjectives modify a noun in the same way, place a comma between the two adjectives. These are called coordinate adjectives. There is a two-part test for coordinate adjectives: (1) Can you replace the comma with the word and? (2) Can you reverse the order of the adjectives and keep the same

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