Comma tips

Commas are confusing! Here are some hints regarding the five most common comma mistakes to help you throughout the semester.

1) Commas in a series – no comma before “and” in journalistic writing

  • Ex: Alberta likes puppies, penguins, turtles and fellow Gators.
  • Ex: Albert has to go to the store, do the dishes and pack for his trip.

2) Independent clauses – use a comma only when the clauses form two complete sentences

  • Ex: Alberta has two puppies, and they are named Oscar and Nacho.
  • Ex: Alberta has two puppies that are named Oscar and Nacho.

3) Introductory clauses – only use a comma at the introduction of the sentence if the sentence would be confusing without it

  • Ex: After winning the championship, Tim Tebow signed on for another year at the University of Florida.
  • Ex: This year the Gators will win the championship again.

4) Nonessential clauses – if you can pluck the phrase out of a sentence, and the sentence would make sense without it, use commas (hint – that was an example!)

  • Ex: Weimer Hall, the best building on campus, is located across from the Florida Gym.
  • Ex: The freshmen who arrive on campus early have more of a chance to get familiar with the school.

5) Commas with quotations & paraphrases – punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks (no exceptions!)

  • Ex: “The Gators are the greatest football team in the world,” Bob Costas said.
  • Ex: The University of Florida has the smartest students in the world, Stephen Hawking said.
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