Commas: Practice

Ericka's Page of Comma Exercises

Now that you are familiar with some of the different uses of the comma, here are some exercises for further practice. To use these exercises, print the page and use as a worksheet. In each exercise, place a comma wherever necessary.

Lists

Rule: If listing two or more objects, a comma is needed between each object or idea.

  1. I did my homework ate my dinner washed my car and went to Walmart after class.
  2. The tutors went to dinner and a movie.
  3. Megan went to the store to buy shampoo conditioner nail polish lipstick and gum.

Coordinating Conjunctions (and, but or, nor, so, for, yet)

Rule: When one of these words is used to link independent clauses (a phrase that can stand on its own as a sentence) a comma is needed before the conjunction.

  1. I was supposed to go to work this morning but I was sick.
  2. Ms. Eason forgot to grade our tests today so we will not know our test grade until Monday.
  3. Bob cannot speak or write clearly.

Introductory Word Groups

Rule: When a sentence begins with a dependent clause ( a phrase that depends on an independent clause to make sense), such as a prepositional phrase (using words such as "before", "after", "from", and "because of"), then a comma is needed after the phrase. If the phrase appears at the end of the sentence, a comma is not needed.

  1. After seminar is over Ellen goes to the cafeteria to eat dinner with her friends.
  2. Ellen goes to eat dinner with her friends after seminar is over.
  3. Before midnight Cinderella must leave the ball.

Descriptive Phrases

Rule: If the descriptive phrase (a dependent clause which acts like an adjective or adverb) merely describes without placing limitations on the object it is describing, then a comma is needed. If the descriptive phrase restricts, limits, modifies, or clarifies the meaning of the words or ideas it is describing, and is essential to getting the meaning across to the reader, a comma is not needed.

  1. I am practicing this tutorial which will help me to understand comma usage.
  2. This tutorial which has wonderful practice exercises will help me to understand comma usage.
  3. I am enjoying this tutorial unlike my roommate who dislikes extra work.

Quotations (He said, She said)

Rule: If anybody says something that needs to be quoted at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, commas are needed. The comma goes inside the quotation mark if the sentence will continue past the quotation. The comma comma goes before the quotation mark if the quote follows the beginning of the sentence. No comma is needed if the quotation ends with a question mark or exclamation point, even if the sentence will continue after the quote.

  1. "I have to complete this tutorial " Mike said "to get a better understanding of comma usage."
  2. "Can I do the tutorial with you?" Randy asked.

Adjectives: Lists

Rule: If you are using more than two adjectives, commas may be needed to separate them. If the words can be shifted in order and still make sense or be separated by the word "and", then a comma is needed between the adjectives. If the adjectives only make sense if used in a certain order, or they cannot be separated the word "and", then no comma is needed.

  1. Three bright red elephant pins were given to Ericka.
  2. Some elegant decorative sophisticated elephant pins were given to Ericka.
  3. Some decorative sophisticated elegant elephant pins were given to Ericka.

Direct Addresses

Rule: If the sentence is addressing the reader directly, then a comma may be needed to separate a question, command, or statement addressed to the reader.

  1. I love going to the writing center don't you?
  2. Yes the tutors are extremely helpful.

Numbers and Addresses

Rule: Commas are used when entire dates are given, before and after the year, and to separate streets, towns, and states in addresses.

  1. Ericka became Greek on December 7 1997 at a local church.
  2. Lynchburg College is located at 1501 Lakeside Drive Lynchburg Virginia 24501.

Created by Ericka Eason

Reference: Diana Hacker, A Writer's Reference (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1992).

This page is to be used with Eight Areas of Comma Etiquette.