If anyone thinks that punctuation is not important in the English language, it’s time to get rid of such misconceptions. There is a popular mem on the Internet that perfectly summarizes my point.
And today, as you may have guessed, I will talk about commas. Commas divide the sentence into separate independent clauses, phrases or words. They are irreplaceable when it comes to long sentences with numerous clauses and different points of view. So, it is important to remember several rules in order to avoid confusion on the reader’s part.
- Commas Are Necessary before Conjunctions
It is necessary to add commas before but, and, so, or, nor, for, yet if the sentence is long and consists of independent clauses.
E.g. Freelance academic writers around the world improve their writing skills by using online courses, but some of them don’t have constant internet connection to upgrade their knowledge all the time.
However, if it is a small sentence with two independent clauses, this rule can be ignored.
E.g. These academic writers are from India and those ones are from Pakistan.
In addition, you don’t have to put comma before a conjunction if it joins subjects or predicates.
Filipino academic writers and American proofreader make a great team that produces high quality content.
- Enumeration Also Needs Commas
When you list some items in your sentence, they surely must be separated by commas (if you end up your enumeration with words or phrases like and so forth, and the like, and so on, etc., they need commas before them). Add a comma before a conjunction that names the last item in your listing.
E.g. Clients usually order essays, research papers, dissertations, case studies, and so on.
- Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses Are Picky
You need to understand the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses first. Restrictive clauses impact the general meaning of the sentence. It means that if you omit one of them, the sentence will focus on an entirely different thing. As a rule, it is used with the pronoun that and doesn’t require a comma.
E.g. The book that I have bought on the fair appears to be very useful.
Nonrestrictive clauses do not harm the meaning of the sentence if omitted. They are usually used with the pronoun which and require commas.
E.g. This book for international students by Stephen Bailey, which I have bought on the fair, appears to be very useful.
- Other Situations When Commas Are Needed
If you have a long introductory phrase at the beginning of your sentence, clarifying additional comments, place-names, parenthetical elements, repeated words or appositives (a word or phrase that follows a noun and plays an explanatory role), they are all used with commas or paired commas.
It is important to remember about these rules if you want your writing to look proficient. Of course, there are more points and exceptions that demand a more thorough examination, but these are the most essential ones. Use them wisely.