The Top Three Comma Errors

Leonard Telford By Leonard Telford, 2nd Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Commas are sometimes confusing, and many writers get them wrong. Here is a quick rundown of the top three comma errors.

Commas Before a List

When a sentence flows naturally into a list, a comma is not needed.

I like to eat, sheep, cows, plums, and dragons.

The above sentence is incorrect because of the comma between “eat” and “sheep.” Eliminate the comma to make it correct.

I like to eat sheep, cows, plums, and dragons.

Subordinate Clauses

A subordinate clause is one that relies on the main clause to make sense. A lot of writers place incorrect commas by the conjunction that separates the subordinate clause from the main clause.

I place commas here, and there.

Here’s a longer example:

This machine is designed to fill glass bottles, and then cap the bottles with either aluminum or crown caps.

The second example is wrong because the actual phrase requires “this machine is designed to” either side of the conjunction (and). The comma effectively splits off the subordinate clause (then cap the bottles . . .) rendering it nonsensical. Remove the comma to correct the error.

This machine is designed to fill glass bottles and then cap the bottles with either aluminum or crown caps.

Comma Splices

This is a sentence that has two completely independent clauses separated only by a comma. As there is no conjunction, the sentence is incorrect.

I like sheep, I like cats.

Both “I like sheep” and “I like cats” are complete sentences of their own accord, so a conjunction is needed (in this case “and”) to make it correct.

I like sheep, and I like cats.

Again, this sentence is incorrect:

I like to eat sheep, however I get bad gas when I do.

However is not a coordinating conjunction, so the comma is incorrect. Use a semicolon to correct the error.

I like to eat sheep; however I get bad gas when I do.

This quick rundown should help aspiring writers to recognize their mistakes with commas and correct them wherever possible. Comma errors are usually simple to correct, so read and learn!

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
2nd Jan 2012 (#)

Lordy, then do not read any of my pages. I will flunk your test big time.LOL
Nice read, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Tranquilpen
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Ditto Denise. Interesting though, thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Melissa Dawn
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Good share! I have been guilty of all these errors no doubt!

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author avatar ittech
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

XLNT post

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

I have to take care but then, worrying over commas can inhibit my writing style! Thanks for bringing me back to the very basics, Leonard! siva

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author avatar Jojay
13th Nov 2012 (#)

You want to go crazy? Write for TextBroker. They're a stickler for comma usage. I used comma the 'correct' way and was told that I used too many commas in a series. If the sentence 'makes sense' without the commas, they say, don't use them. My sheep, "cows, plums, and oranges" sentence was incorrect because I didn't need the comma after plum. I kid you not. You write for them awhile and you'll want to put your head in a gas oven trying to please them. One comma used incorrectly (that is to say it might be correct in an English class but not correct for them) will get you reduced one writing level.

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