Adding Commas for Clarity

Sometimes it is necessary to add a comma to make a sentence clear. Unclear: In the kitchen cupboards were empty. (Make it clear that the phrase is “in the kitchen,” not “in the kitchen cupboards.”) Clear: In the kitchen, cupboards were empty. Unclear: The room was full of crying babies and mothers. (Were the mothers

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Commas with Quotations

Commas are used to set off the “he said/she said” clause. The comma always goes before the quotation marks. Incorrect: Henrietta asked “Do you want to go with me?” (Comma must set off “she said” clause.) Incorrect: Henrietta asked”,Do you want to go with me?” (Comma must go before quotation mark.) Correct: Henrietta asked,”Do you

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Commas with Certain Words Omitted

Words intentionally left out of clauses may be shown by a comma. A comma is used when the missing words are clearly understood. Incorrect: George liked the color green; John red. (Confusing) Correct: George liked the color green; John, red. (Now missing words are understood.)

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Commas in Numbers

In numbers of more than three digits, use a comma after every third digit from right to left. Incorrect: The area of North America is approximately 9435000 square miles. Correct: The area of North America is approximately 9,435,000 square miles. (This is much easier to read.) Numbers which normally do not take commas are ZIP

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Commas in Letter Writing

Use commas after the salutation (also called the greeting) in a personal letter and after the complimentary closing in all letters. Salutation: Dear Fred, My dearest Emmeline, Closing: Sincerely, Truly yours,

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