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Commas Join Things Together

COMMAS JOIN ITEMS IN LISTS

    I used water, lemons, and sugar to make lemonade.

    Items in a list must be joined with commas. Use the word “and” before the last word.

    I need a piece of paper, a pen, and a pencil.

    Candy, cake, and ice cream are sweet.

    Two items are not a list. They are joined by the word “and” without a comma.

    I need paper and pens.

    Candy and cake are sweet.



TWO SENTENCES CAN BE JOINED BY A COMMA AND ONE OF THE F.A.N.B.O.Y.S. THE F.A.N.B.O.Y.S. ARE “FOR,” “AND,” “NOR,” “BUT,” “OR,” “YET,” AND “SO.”

    Two separate sentences

    I don’t like the music. I am going to see the show.

    Cats are beautiful. Dogs are friendly.

    Joined into one sentence

    I don’t like the music, but I’m going to see the show.

    Cats are beautiful, and dogs are friendly.



COMMAS CAN JOIN A DESCRIPTION TO A PERSON, PLACE, OR THING

    Information as part of the sentence

    Jennifer Lawrence is an Academy award nominee. She is set to star in The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Sagittaria is a genus of plant. Saggitaria is also known as Katniss.

    Information joined with a comma before and after

    Jennifer Lawrence, an Academy Award nominee, is set to star in The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Sagittaria, a genus of plant, is also known as Katniss.



COMMAS JOIN “WHICH” CLAUSES TO SENTENCES

    The word “which” introduces information that is always true of the thing being described. Use a comma before “which.”

    America uses a lot of gas, which is a petroleum product.

    Apple makes the iPad, which remains the best selling tablet.

    The word “that” tells you that you are only talking about a particular part or kind of the thing being described. Do not use a comma with “that.”

    America uses a lot of gas that is imported.

    He has an iPad that has a yellow cover.



COMMAS JOIN QUOTATIONS TO SENTENCES

    “I don’t know,” I said, “but I’ll find out.”

    “She’s not very nice,” I replied.



COMMAS CAN JOIN A FRAGMENT TO THE BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE

    If you are putting a sentence fragment first, use a comma.

    After the rain stopped, I planted flowers.

    Because I want to be in shape, I am exercising every day.

    If the sentence fragment comes after the part that can stand on its own, do not use a comma.

    I planted flowers after the rain stopped..

    I am exercising every day because I want to be in shape.

BMCC Writing Center

Front Desk (General Information)
writingcenter@bmcc.cuny.edu
(212) 220-1384

Franklin Winslow, Director
Fwinslow@bmcc.cuny.edu
(212) 220-8000 x5167

Mailing Address
BMCC Writing Center
Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
199 Chambers Street, Room S510
New York, NY 10007

Hours of Operation Summer ​2018

The Writing Center will be closed 7/11./18 – 7/17/18.
We will reopen at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, at 10 a.m.