Comma Rule 1

Do commas worry you? Many writers say they worry more about commas than any other punctuation mark.

Actually commas aren’t that hard. Most professional sentences are based on just three comma rules. Today we’re going to review and practice Comma Rule 1.

Here it is: Use a comma when a sentence begins with an extra idea.

Everything you say or write is either a sentence (beginning with a person, place, or thing) or an extra idea. Take a look at these examples:

We need additional security for tonight’s concert.  SENTENCE

Because we need additional security for tonight’s concert.  EXTRA IDEA

I can trade shifts with Kenny.  SENTENCE

If I can trade shifts with Kenny.  EXTRA IDEA

Notice that looking at the first word usually tells you whether you have a sentence or an extra idea.

Here is Comma Rule 1 again: Use a comma when a sentence begins with an extra idea. If the extra idea is in back, don’t use a comma.

Take a look at these examples (the extra idea is in green):

We’ve had a shortage of officers for the past three years.  NO COMMA

For the past three years, we’ve had a shortage of officers.  COMMA NEEDED

Get into the habit of listening for sentences and extra ideas. You’ll soon hear the difference. Then check the beginning of each sentence, and you’ll know immediately whether you need a comma.

You can watch a short video by clicking here.

Comma Rule 1

Click here to download a free, printable copy of Commas Made Simple, a handout that explains all three comma rules.

Male figure holding up a comma

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