Tackling Commas

There are several comma rules, so here are four to start, and the rest will be covered next week.

Use a comma to join two independent, related sentences.*


The rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers dates back to the early days of football. The Bears have won more of these match-ups.
The rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers dates back to the early days of football, and the Bears have won more of these match-ups.

Use a comma to set apart an identifying phrase in a sentence.


Brian Urlacher, the Bears middle linebacker, is an example of the team’s rich tradition of excellence in that position.

Use commas to separate adjectives of equal rank.


Intimidated by the Chicago Bear defense, the Packers racked up a series of careless, foolish penalties in the second half.

Use commas with introductory phrases.


As Devin Hester ran the punt return back for a touchdown, the crowd went wild.

*If the sentences are not related, you must use a semi-colon. However, that edition of “Editing for Grammarphobes” is scheduled for later in the month, so I guess you are out of luck today.

The Horror Begins on Friday

*Blood-curdling scream in the background for effect*

Today is the deadline for submitting your horror flash fiction pieces. The next topic is family gatherings for November. Pieces are due 11/1. Remember, 500 words or less. Send them to me at karen@karenberner.com. Please put “Flash Fiction Fridays” in the subject line, and be sure to include a short bio with your story.


Anonymous said…
Great post! When I edit, I also find people have difficulty knowing where (or when) to use commas in dialog. Maybe you can do a Part II?

Here are some examples I've seen while editing:

"I don't know John," Jack said.
(Jack is speaking to John.)

"I told you, John it's not like that."

Thanks again for some great information.
Thanks for your comment.

I'm going to be discussing more comma rules next week, along with a separate post on punctuating dialogue.
Anonymous said…
Thank you! I am loving these tips! I'm terrible at editing and it's great to have useful tips like these :)

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