4 Tips for Correct Use of the Comma

Are you an ESL student struggling with the use of the comma? Aside from learning through ESL software such as WhiteSmoke, you can also keep in mind these four simple tips on how to use the comma. The following enumerates the four most basic functions of a comma in a sentence.

  • 1. Separates Series Elements

    The comma is used to separate the elements within a series. This is demonstrated in the following example:

    I need to buy pens, pencils, notebooks, and scissors.

  • 2. Joins an Independent Clause with Another

    The comma joins two independent clauses together. A conjunction is used after the comma and before the beginning of the second independent clause. See this example:

    I find the movie interesting, but the critics seem to disagree with me.

  • 3. Separates an Introductory Element

    Introductory elements are set off from the rest of the sentence to avoid confusion, as shown in the following example:

    Arriving late, I wondered where everyone went.

  • 4. Sets Off a Parenthetical Element

    Commas are often used to set off parenthetical elements. These are phrases or clauses that are used to describe an element in the sentence. Look at the following example:

    Jane, his wife, went to visit her parents in the summer.

To summarize, commas are used to separate series elements, to join two independent clauses, to distinguish an introductory element, and to set off parenthetical elements. These are four simple tips that will help ESL students improve their study of the English language. You can also make use of software for ESL students to learn how to use the comma.