Comma Chameleon - Where Does This Pesky Punctuation Belong?

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Do you struggle with comma placement? You are not alone! Here is a simple guide to basic comma usage.

Apologies for the bad pun and the earworm I just placed in your brain! :p 

However, today, I wanted to take a little look at commas with you. 

Typically, most writers either put commas everywhere or nowhere. There are very few inbetweeners! 

Before I knew what to do with them, and sometimes even now when I'm writing a first draft, I fling them out all over the place because my fingers are flying across the keyboard so fast. And as with everything in a first draft, that's not the end of the world. But how to figure out where they need to stay and where they need to be removed? 

it takes some work. 

One place you must always have a comma is when a character is directly addressing another character. 

"Hey, Jack! Where's the TV remote?"  
"Are you coming over for lunch tomorrow, Emma?" 

However, if the name is in the middle of the sentence and is not being addressed, no comma is needed. 

Last week, there was a huge storm, and Steve and Marcus got soaked in the rain when they walked home from work. 

Commas are used to note a natural pause in a sentence. It's the place you take a breath when you're speaking. 

I went to an awesome nightclub last week with my friends, and there was an amazing DJ who played all the best songs. 

In the sentence above, there is a comma before the "and".  However, in the next sentence, there isn't.

At the supermarket, I bought some eggs and sausages.

Commas before "and" aren't always necessary. They become necessary when you are joining two related things into one sentence. In the first example, it could have been written this way: 

I went to an awesome nightclub last week with my friends. There was an amazing DJ who played all the best songs. 

It could have been two sentences, and that is why the comma is needed. It lets you know there is a natural break as you add the extra information.

On the flipside of that, there are sentences where commas are used too frequently to make a sentence longer. 

"We're going out, where are your shoes?" 

This is not the right way to use a comma. The two sentences are independent of each other. The second part is not an extension of the first. It's a question on its own. So, it should read like this: 

"We're going out. Where are your shoes?" 

Those are just the very basics of commas usage - there is SO much more to learn, but if you can begin with these simple tips, it will serve your writing well in the future! 

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