Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Welcome back. And, today, I'm going to talk to you about how to use the comma. So, some of you have asked some punctuation-related questions. Today, I'm going to give a quick introduction to a few times when we can use the comma, that little mark you sometimes see in the middle of sentences. So, today, I'm going to introduce three different times when you can use a comma. Please, keep in mind that depending on the style book or the rules at your company or at a newspaper or at a publishing company, the rules may be a little bit different. But, in general, these are a couple of guidelines that you can think about when you're writing and I hope that they can help you to decide when you should and should not use a comma. So, let's look at three examples.
Let's begin with the first situation which is with coordinating conjunctions. So, English has seven of coordinating conjunctions, maybe you know them. They are, "and," "but," "or," "for," "nor," "yet," and "so." Usually, we use, "and," "but," and "or," most commonly, I suppose "so," as well. But, these are called coordinating conjunctions. We use these coordinating conjunctions to connect pieces of information together. So, when we're using a coordinating conjunction to connect sentences, we use a comma before the conjunction if we are using a compound sentence. So, this is the key point. A compound sentence is a single sentence made of what could be two separate sentences. So, it's two complete sentences, two finished ideas but we connect these two ideas with a coordinating conjunction. This is called a compound sentence. In these cases, when it is a compound sentence, you can use a comma before the coordinating conjunction. So, let's look at a couple examples of this.
First, "He wanted to come to the concert with me, but he had to study for an exam." So, here, I have two complete sentences. "He wanted to come to the concert with me," is a complete sentence and I have a comma here. My coordinating conjunction is "but," in this case. And again, at the end of the sentence, I have another complete idea, "he had to study for an exam." Here, I've used my comma before the coordinating conjunction because this is a compound sentence.
Let's look at another example. "My mother invited her friends to dinner, and she organized special cocktails for the evening." So, here, again, there are two separate complete ideas here. "My mother invited her friends to dinner," comma, before the coordinating conjunction, "and," "she organized special cocktails for the evening." There are two separate ideas here. We use a comma before the conjunction that connects these two ideas together.
Okay, so, this is the first type of comma I want to talk about. The next type of comma, in particular, this is one that maybe the rules will vary. There might be different rules depending on the book or depending on the publication, depending on where you work. But, this is another case where you may see commas often. So, after we use an introductory expression. So, this means a word or a phrase before the subject and the verb of a sentence. So, we'll see a couple examples here. After your introductory expression, so, a comma that comes near the beginning of the sentence.
For example, "In 2017, I started my own company." So, here, "In 2017," we have a comma after 2017 before the subject and the verb of the sentence. So, this is like an introduction, there's introductory information here. One more example, "Last week, we met our new clients." So, here, "Last week," is some extra information, it's introducing something. And then, we have our subject and our verb back here. So, again, in some cases you may not need to use a comma, it depends on the rule it depends on the style book that perhaps you're using. But, this is another situation where you may see commas and you can use a comma in this case too.
Okay, one more example. This is a very common one and a very common question, I think as well. When you're using adjective clauses. So, for example, like relative clauses, I think a lot of you know about. These often begin with like "who," "which," or "that," which we'll see in a second. When we use "these" to introduce information that is non-essential, so it's not information that is essential to know, to understand the noun, we can offset that extra information with commas. So, in this case, we'll use two commas here, actually. Let's take a look at an example.
Here, "The movie 'Inception,' which was hugely popular in 2010, is a sci-fi and action movie." Okay, so, here, I'm talking about the movie, "Inception," that's my noun here. "The movie โ€˜Inception,'" here is this extra information. I've got a relative pronoun here, "which," and then, "was hugely popular in 2010," this is extra information about the movie, "Inception." Then, I finish with, "is a sci-fi and action movie." So, this extra information, "which was hugely popular in 2010," is set apart from the sentence with commas. If I remove this relative clause, the sentence is correct. "The movie 'Inception' is a sci-fi and action movie." So, we can use relative clauses with extra information and set them off with commas. Doing this sounds much, much nicer or reads much, much nicer. This also kind of gives a hint to your reader that it's some extra information. So, please set off your relative clauses, your non-essential relative clauses with commas. A great hint is when your clause begins with "which" or "that," a relative pronoun here.
Let's look at one more example. "Her parents, who were greatly respected in the community, both passed away last year." So, in this case, my relative clause is "who." I'm sorry. My relative pronoun is "who," and again, this is extra information, "who were greatly respected in the community." So, I've given some extra information about her parents and I've set that off with commas. If I remove this adjective clause, "Her parents both passed away last year." The sentence is still correct but I'm giving this extra information, I'm showing its extra information and these little commas helped in the sentence. It sounds just nicer, it reads much nicer. So, when you're using an adjective clause like these, a non-essential adjective clause, you can set that off with commas.
So, those are three situations, three very common situations where you may see commas and when you can use commas. So, please try to keep that in mind especially about the first point we talked about. Sometimes, people will try to use a comma in one complete sentence. They think it's a compound sentence, but it's not actually compound. So, if you're confused, just slow down, take a look at your sentence and ask yourself, "Are there two separate complete ideas in this sentence?" If so and you're using a coordinating conjunction, you can use a comma there. If there's only one idea, one complete idea in your sentence, then you don't need to use a comma. So, please keep that in mind. This one can be especially challenging even for native speakers, actually.
So, this is just a quick introduction to a few ways to use commas. If you have any questions, please make sure to let us know. Of course, if you want to try to make a sentence in the comments, please feel free to do that, as well. If you liked this video, please make sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel, too, if you haven't already. Also, check us out at EnglishClass101.com for more good stuff.
Thanks very much for watching this episode, and I'll see you again soon. Bye.

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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:08 AM
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Hi there Steven,


That would be great wouldn't it!? I hope this has at least helped you to understand this grammar rule though!


We are constantly updating the lessons on our site so please stay tuned! ๐Ÿ‘


Kindly,

ร‰va

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Steven
Sunday at 03:56 AM
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HI Alisha,


This is a great introductory video to commas, but we need a part two to complete all the missing parts. ๐Ÿ˜„

I wish this video was more like 20 minutes long, since this is one of the more important grammar rules.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 08:34 AM
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Hello Lena,


You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

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Lena
Saturday at 04:45 AM
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Thank you for a great lesson! All is clear.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:30 PM
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Hello Frank,


You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡ We are happy you liked it!

Let us know if you have any questions. :)


Levente

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Frank
Tuesday at 07:49 PM
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Great lesson thank you .