Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Five: Five Times to Use a Comma

Oh, goody! I get to combine two of my favorite things today: Friday Five and a grammar lesson! Confused about that poor little comma? When to use it vs. a semi-colon or a period? Take a gander at these five instances. There are more, but these are the most common:

1.                          To separate introductory phrases from the main sentence: While running across the park, Jeremiah thought his lungs would burst.
2.                          To separate two independent clauses: Rosa double-checked her watch, and they boarded the train. OR Ryan hit the baseball almost to the warning track, but Diego caught it in fair territory.
3.                          When opening a sentence with a gerund used to describe action by the subject: Grinning, the earl nodded. OR Breathing hard, she flopped down on the grass. NOT Shimmering sunlight tipped the blades of grass with gold.
4.                          To break out description of a subject: Dirt-streaked and sweaty, Bob longed for a shower. OR Bob, dirt-streaked and sweaty, longed for a shower.
5.                          To separate dialogue or any quotation from its tag: “You don’t know me that well,” Emma purred. OR Boy George said Madonna was, “a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.” NOTE: "I hate you." Lisa fisted her hands at her sides. does not earn a comma because there is no dialogue tag. There is an action performed by Lisa. Dialogue tags are words like said, replied, shouted, retorted, asked or exclaimed.

Next week, five more! Don't forget to visit the other members of the Friday Five Family. Their links are in my sidebar.

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