JS Tip 311: Commas II

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas II

Last week, we began a discussion of commas.

We said, “No other punctuation mark is as misunderstood as the lowly comma.” We believe that.

We’ll do this in a series. Each week, for the next few weeks, we’re review a different principle about commas.

Principle Two: Place a comma before the connecting word between two complete thoughts:

We’ll arrive on Monday, and the conference will begin on Tuesday.

Notice the comma after “Monday” and before the “and.”

It separates two complete thoughts: “We’ll arrive on Monday” and “The conference will begin on Tuesday.”

When would you not use a comma?

You wouldn’t use a comma if you don’t have two complete thoughts:

We’ll arrive on Monday and begin on Tuesday.

See? “Begin on Tuesday” isn’t a complete thought, so you wouldn’t use a comma before the connecting word.

What are the connecting words?

There are seven of them. They’re and, or, for, nor, but, yet, and so. They’re also called “coordinating conjunctions.”

There are other connectors—like however and therefore—but they’re not coordinating conjunctions (they’re called “conjunctive adverbs”). They have a separate set of principles. We’ll pursue that discussion after our discussion of commas.

What are your questions? Let us know. We love this stuff. We appreciate you.

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