Commas Exercise (156)

The general comma usage guidelines are:

1. Use a comma after an introductory adverbial clause and before a coordinate conjunction that connects two independent clauses.
2. Use commas to set off direct quotes, nonrestrictive clauses and other parenthetical elements that are not necessary to the essential meaning of the sentence, such as appositives.
3. Do not put a comma between two verbs.

Edit the following sentences as necessary:

Answers and Explanations

Note: The sentences in this exercise are taken from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, with some modifications.

1.
Original: There was a streaming mist and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill.
Correct : There was a streaming mist, and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill.

The comma is placed before and, a coordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses. An independent clause contains a subject and a verb and can stand alone as a sentence.

2.
Original: The energetic horse cut short by the whip made a decided scramble for it.
Correct : The energetic horse, cut short by the whip, made a decided scramble for it.

The parenthetical information, cut short by the whip adds information not necessary to the essential meaning and structure of the sentence, so it’s set off by commas.

3.
Original: "Keep where you are" the guard called to the voice in the mist "because if I should make a mistake it could never be set right in your lifetime."
Correct : "Keep where you are," the guard called to the voice in the mist, "because if I should make a mistake, it could never be set right in your lifetime."

The two segments of quoted material are set off by commas. The introductory adverbial clause, because if I should make a mistake, is followed by a comma.

4.
Original: Jerry a man alone in the mist and darkness dismounted to wipe the mud from his face and shake the wet out of his hat-brim which might be capable of holding about half a gallon.
Correct : Jerry, a man alone in the mist and darkness, dismounted to wipe the mud from his face and shake the wet out of his hat-brim, which might be capable of holding about half a gallon.

The phrase, a man alone in the mist and darkness, is an appositive (i.e., a word or phrase that follows a noun or pronoun to identify or explain it). The nonrestrictive clause, which might be capable of holding about half a gallon, is not necessary to the essential meaning of the sentence.

5.
Original: When he stopped for a drink he moved his muffler with his left hand while he poured his liquor with his right.
Correct : When he stopped for a drink, he moved his muffler with his left hand while he poured his liquor with his right.

The adverbial clause, When he stopped for a drink, is followed by a comma because it comes at the beginning of the sentence; the adverbial clause, while he poured his liquor with his right, comes at the end of the sentence and is not preceded by a comma.

Related Articles

Subscribe to our articles and exercises