Better Writing Through Correct Punctuation: Improper Comma Usage

Better writing has correct punctuation; improper comma usage leads to confusing sentences. Learn when to use commas for correct grammar and punctuation.

Many writers tend to overdo their comma usage because they simply insert the punctuation anywhere there is a pause or change in thought. However, there are specific commas punctuation rules regarding how to use commas by a personal essay writer that should be followed. For better writing, learn correct punctuation rules regarding when to use commas with the following advice.

When to Use Commas for Compound Elements

Certain compounds found in sentences do not require commas between them. Independent clauses that are joined with a coordinating conjunction (“and,” “or,” etc.) do require a comma (“The cat meowed at the fish and the bird, and the dog barked at the next-door neighbor”), but other compound elements do not.

A comma should not be used between two verbs that are part of a compound predicate. These verbs are linked, not completely separate ideas, so they should not have a comma between them. For example, the sentence “Dr. Hutchinson found the cure and then wrote about it in a scientific journal” does not include a comma between “cure” and “and” because the comma would be unnecessary.

Subordinate clauses, or embedded clauses, also do not require the use of commas between them if they are linked. For example, “She knew that her job was safe and that her house was too” does not include a comma between “safe” and “and” because the first and second subordinate clauses are linked.

How to Use Commas for Adjective Lists

Adjectives can be difficult to punctuate because they are often listed, and different adjective lists may or may not require commas. However, there is a specific grammar and punctuation rule regarding when to use commas for adjective lists. Coordinate adjectives (adjectives that individually describe something and can be joined with “and”) make use of commas. Cumulative adjectives (adjectives that build on each other and cannot be joined with “and”) do not require comma usage.

In other words, if “and” can be inserted between adjectives, there should be a comma; if “and” cannot be inserted, using commas in punctuation is not necessary. For example, in the sentence “He wore a red, white and blue necktie” the use of commas is appropriate because each adjective can be separated with “and” (many writers would also insert a comma between “white” and “and”). In the sentence “He went to a sunny, tropical Florida beach” a comma is not used between “tropical” and “Florida” because “tropical and Florida” does not make sense.

Achieve Better Writing with Correct Punctuation of Crucial Sentence Elements

For correct grammar and punctuation, if an element is crucial to the meaning of the sentence, do not separate it with commas. Putting commas around crucial clauses and thus separating them from the rest of the sentence may change the overall meaning of the sentence.

Do not separate restrictive phrases, phrases that restrict the meaning of the sentence, with commas. So some students prefer to pay for essay, writing,  editing, and proofreading. In case, they write on their own, they should not separate restrictive phrases. Doing so may cause a sentence to imply something entirely different than the intended meaning. For example, the sentence “Doctors, who make major surgical errors, should lose their licenses” implies that all doctors should lose their licenses, rather than just the doctors who make major mistakes. Instead, change the sentence to “Doctors who make major surgical errors should lose their licenses.”

In addition, adverbs that conclude a sentence should not be set off with commas if they significantly impact the meaning of the sentence. If these clauses are separated with commas, sentences can seem too broad. For instance, “Don’t go out in the sun, unless you wear sunscreen” seems like a very radical statement at first, due to the comma. At first glance, it seems as if no one should go out in the sun. Without the comma, the sentence will show better writing. The reader will not have the initial shocked reaction, because she or he will not pause at the end of the first clause.

Many writers add commas according to their “gut,” but there are specific grammar and punctuation rules regarding how to use commas. Knowing proper comma usage and having correct punctuation is very important for a writer. Otherwise, readers might get the wrong idea with bad commas punctuation.