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Commas in the Wrong Places: Following the Rules of Punctuation

Commas exist to divide certain words and word combinations into parts of context that will be understood by the audience. If the placement of commas in a sentence is correct, they will absorb information without difficulty. If, on the other hand, the use of commas messes up the meaning of the sentence, it may confuse the readers. Furthermore, incorrect use of commas can result in a comedic effect for people who are not familiar with the content.

In many academic cases, it is recommended to use the method of natural pauses to determine whether the comma is necessary. However, it is not effective unless you know the basic grammar rules. Proofreading is also needed for cases when comma use is debatable. In other instances, it is advised to learn the basics of comma placement in a sentence. There is an established set of rules that pertains to using commas. It can be helpful when creating academic texts and writing an essay that requires organized structure. Here is when commas should not be used:

Examples of correct commas usage

There is an established set of rules that pertains to using commas. It can be helpful when creating academic texts and writing an essay that requires organized structure. Here is when commas should not be used.

A comma is not used for separating two subjects that are related to the same verb:

Lisa and Kaz, wanted to become bankers. ✔️ Lisa and Kaz wanted to become bankers.
Wishing they could arrive on time, they, couldn’t stop looking at the clock. ✔️ Wishing they could arrive on time, they couldn’t stop looking at the clock.

If the sentence contains more than two subjects, a comma should always be used:

The teacher, the students and the head of the committee wanted to know more about the state of affairs. ✔️ The teacher, the students, and the head of the committee wanted to know more about the state of affairs.

A comma is never used in a sentence when a compound subject or a compound verb is present.

My tutor, and my therapist gathered to discuss my past behavior. ✔️ My tutor and my therapist gathered to discuss my past behavior.
He held out his hand, and touched the cat’s fur with tenderness. ✔️ He held out his hand and touched the cat’s fur with tenderness.

Commas are absent in a sentence that has two similar actions in context:

He walked into the room, and took a look around. ✔️ He walked into the room and took a look around.
She emerged from the water, and approached the man sitting by the pool. ✔️ She emerged from the water and approached the man sitting by the pool.

Commas cannot be used to divide independent clauses in case there are no conjunctions present:

Dusk was descending upon the city, the people were afraid to go out at night. ✔️ Dusk was descending upon the city, and the people were afraid to go out at night.
Motivation is empowering, he let it guide him throughout the training. ✔️ Motivation is empowering, so he let it guide him throughout the training.

However, if two clauses are connected and create a short sentence, it is allowed to use conjunction without a comma:

  • ✔️ Two officers left, the sergeant stayed.
  • ✔️ Two officers left and the sergeant stayed.

If the items in a sentence create a list that does not include more than two objects, the comma can be omitted:

My friends bought French fries, and cola for dinner. ✔️ My friends bought French fries and cola for dinner.
We ordered pistachios with ice cream, and banana syrup. ✔️ We ordered pistachios with ice cream and banana syrup.

If the second clause in a sentence is dependent on the main clause, a comma is never used:

The woods near her house seemed impenetrable, because the trees stood too close. ✔️ The woods near her house seemed impenetrable because the trees stood too close.
Their evening was interrupted, because a messenger arrived soon after sunset. ✔️ Their evening was interrupted because a messenger arrived soon after sunset.

Commas should not be used to divide the verb and the part of the sentence that provides information about the subject.

What I am planning to do is, having a breath of fresh air right now. ✔️ What I am planning to do is having a breath of fresh air right now.
What she was looking for, was understanding and support of her endeavors. ✔️ What she was looking for was understanding and support of her endeavors.

Commas are not used before the first subject on the list of items, mentioned in the sentence.

We had, Indian, Chinese, and Thai cuisine to choose from. ✔️ We had Indian, Chinese, and Thai cuisine to choose from.
They ordered, a fruit salad, a glass of juice, and pancakes. ✔️ They ordered a fruit salad, a glass of juice, and pancakes.

If the independent clause is placed at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a dependent clause, a comma is not used.

He was desperate, because he didn’t know where to go. ✔️ He was desperate because he didn’t know where to go.
They were determined to make the celebration happen, as long as their respective families did not mind. ✔️ They were determined to make the celebration happen as long as their respective families did not mind.

If there are two nouns in a sentence creating a compound object, a comma is not needed:

Her parents didn’t know what to do when she brought home a little tiger, and a little lion. ✔️ Her parents didn’t know what to do when she brought home a little tiger and a little lion.
The team was scared that they would not have a chance to show their strength, and beat their opponents. ✔️ The team was scared that they would not have a chance to show their strength and beat their opponents.

If there are nouns in a sentence that are related to the same verb and connected with a conjunction, a comma cannot be used:

I rushed to meet them, and hug them, and walk them home. ✔️ I rushed to meet them and hug them and walk them home.
It could be a hurricane, or a tornado, or a cyclone for all I know. ✔️ It could be a hurricane or a tornado or a cyclone for all I know.

If the sentence contains descriptive adjectives, they should not be divided from the nouns that they are used with:

Ken couldn’t stop thinking about his old, feather bed back in the village. ✔️ Ken couldn’t stop thinking about his old feather bed back in the village.
The shining, red star appeared in the illuminators of the spacecraft, lighting the capsule inside. ✔️ The shining red star appeared in the illuminators of the spacecraft, lighting the capsule inside.

Non-coordinate adjectives that are put together in a sentence do not require punctuation:

Friends wore casual pants, and slippers when they went outside for the first time. ✔️ Friends wore casual pants and slippers when they went outside for the first time.
The improvement of the country’s national status is a deep-running, social issue. ✔️ The improvement of the country’s national status is a deep-running social issue.

Conclusion

Based on the given examples, it is evident that commas in the wrong places are meant to confuse the readers of an academic text. To maintain the original meaning of the content, writers need to follow the guidelines that have been provided to them in advance.

It is believed that a certain percentage of grammar rules can be modified to serve the narrative. However, for the sake of retaining a clear structure and a proper idea, it is best to use the methods, mentioned above. They may not be universal for every type of sentence, but they will definitely add finishing touches to an essay that requires punctuation. The placement of commas can be an engaging process that demands the writer’s focus all the time.

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