Commas Exercise (178)

Here are two of many guidelines for comma usage.

1. Set off parenthetical phrases by commas.
2. Use a comma before a coordinate conjunction (and, or, but) that connects two clauses.

Edit the following sentences by adding commas where necessary.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: I had been passing alone through a singularly dreary tract of country and found myself within a view of the melancholy House of Usher.
Correct : I had been passing alone through a singularly dreary tract of country and found myself within a view of the melancholy House of Usher.

The phrase following and is not a clause because it doesn’t contain a subject; therefore, no comma is called for.

2.
Original: Nevertheless in this mansion of gloom I proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.
Correct : Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.

A comma is needed because nevertheless is used parenthetically.

3.
Original: We replaced and screwed down the lid of the coffin and made our way into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.
Correct : We replaced and screwed down the lid of the coffin and made our way into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.

No commas are needed because the first and connects only the verbs replaced and screwed. The second and connects to the third verb made, which shares the same subject as the other two verbs.

4.
Original: I endeavored to believe that much if not all of what I felt was due to the bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room.
Correct : I endeavored to believe that much, if not all, of what I felt was due to the bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room.

Commas are needed to set off the parenthetical phrase if not all.

5.
Original: There was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the "House of Usher."
Correct : There was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters, and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the "House of Usher."

A comma is needed before the first and because it connects two clauses. The subject of the second clause is tarn and closed is the verb. The second and merely connects the two adjectives deep and dank. The third and connects the two adverbs sullenly and silently.

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