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A summar of Lesson 6 of the Comma Sense Course


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
---------------Marianne Williamson

Alas, tis the last week, and you have conquered the complicated comma. You are now armed with the knowledge to punch that key on your keyboard between the (m) and the (.) with confidence, professionalism, and discernment. You have done well, and I salute you. *Smile*

This final lesson will contain simple comma rules that you learned in kindergarten, well... maybe second grade. For many of us, that was a very long time ago; *Rolleyes* therefore, I include them here only as a reminder.


[Scroll down to bottom of this page for list of rules and exceptions.]

Rule #25: Dialogue Tags
*Checkb* Use commas to separate a Dialogue Tag from a direct quote or internal thought unless the direct quote or internal thought ends with a question mark or exclamation mark.

A dialogue tag tells the reader who is speaking, and, in many cases, how they are speaking. In the United States, periods and commas always go inside the final quotation mark.

If the dialogue opens with a tag, the comma goes directly after the verb of communication and outside the leading quotation mark. If the dialogue tag (he said or she said) is after the spoken dialogue, a comma is placed inside the ending quotation mark, and the dialogue tag begins with a lower case letter unless it's a proper noun or name. If a quoted sentence is interrupted by a dialogue tag or action of the speaker, and the quote resumes after the interruption, a comma goes after the first part of the quoted sentence and inside the quotation mark, and another comma goes after the interruption and before the resuming quotation mark, and the resuming quoted sentence begins with a lowercase letter unless it's a proper noun. If it's a long interruption, you can even use em dashes around the interruption. Use caution here! This only applies if the interruption is within an unfinished quoted sentence. If there are two separate quoted sentences
with a quote tag between them, a comma goes after the first quoted sentence and inside the quotation mark. Then the quote tag is closed off with a period and the speaker's second sentence is a new quotation started with a capital letter. Are you completely confused now? *Confused* The examples below will help.

Internal Dialogue, thoughts, are unspoken words which a character thinks to himself. Rather than quotation marks, italic font is used around the thought. When Internal Dialogue is introduced by a tag or a tag follows it, the same rules of comma usage as that of quoted dialogue apply.

Do NOT use commas or quotation marks with an Indirect Quote which follows the relative pronoun that or if that is implied. Indirect Quotes are not exact wordings but rather re-phrasings or summaries of another person's words. In this case, it is not necessary to use quotation marks.

Examples of Dialogue Tags:

*Noteb* Cinderella sat on the ballroom floor and cried, "These glass slippers hurt."
Use commas to set off a Direct Quote separated by dialogue tags. Cinderella sat on the ballroom floor and cried is a dialogue tag. The comma goes outside the quotation marks.

*Noteb* "You haven’t kissed me yet," she complained, polishing her glass slipper, "and it's almost midnight."
Here we have a dialogue tag and an action interrupting an on-going quoted sentence. So a comma is needed inside the quotation mark for the first part of the quote. A lower-case letter begins the tag she complained. A comma goes outside the quotation mark beginning the second part of the quote. A lower-case letter begins the second part of the quote. Notice the comma before the ending Participial Phrase polishing her glass slipper [10x].

*Noteb* "You haven’t kissed me yet"she polished her glass slipper and pouted"and it's almost midnight."
There is no dialogue tag here, but there is action going on in the middle of an on-going quoted sentence, so commas or em dashes need to surround that action between the dialogue. I like to use em dashes for this situation.

*Noteb* "You haven’t kissed me yet," she said as she polished her glass slipper and pouted. "It's almost midnight."
In this example, Cinderella spoke two separate sentences, so a period goes after the dialogue/action tag, and a new quoted sentence begins.

*Noteb* "You fools!" the Prince bellowed as he held out the glass slipper. "Why can't you find the girl?" he asked.
No comma is used when an exclamation or question mark ends a quote, but the beginning of the quote tag is lower-case letters.

*Noteb* Cinderella was told [that] the Prince was looking for her.
No Direct Quote is present here. This is called an Indirect Quote. That is implied so no commas or quotation marks are used.

*Noteb* I wish that Prince over there would stop staring at me, thought Cinderella. Maybe I have a piece of spinach stuck between my teeth.
This is an example of Internal Dialogue. Cinderella is not speaking out loud, so her thought is italicized and no quotation marks are used, but comma placement follows the same rules as Direct Quotes.

For more information on proper punctuation with quotations and dialogue, see the link below:

Rule #26: Salutations and Closings of Letters
*Checkb* Use a comma after the name of the person you are addressing in a formal Salutation and after the adverb preceding your signature at the Closing of a Letter.

Examples of Salutations and Closings of Letters:

*Noteb* Dear Edgar,
It is with deep regret that I must take the raven and leave.
The incessant rapping at my chamber door is no longer enchanting.
Yours nevermore,

Do not use a comma between dear and the person's name because dear is a term of endearment and becomes part of the person's name.

*Noteb* Hello, dear Edgar,
How are you and Annabel Lee doing at the kingdom by the sea?

Technically, when using greetings such as hello, you need to use a comma between the person's name and the greeting. The reason is Rule #23—Direct Address. We use commas to show that we are addressing the reader. Then we use a comma after the person's name because Hello, dear Edgar is a Salutation.

*Noteb* Yo Poe,
Found a second-hand pendulum you might be interested in...

At times—for example, in email—you may choose to leave out the comma before the name when using short, informal greetings such as Hi, Hey, or Yo. But you still need that comma after the person's name because Yo Poe is a salutation.

Here is a great link which details formal and informal (email) salutations and comma use:

Rule #27: Dates
*Checkb* Use a comma or set of commas to make the Year parenthetical (Non-Essential) when the day of the month and the month are included.

Examples of Dates:

*Noteb* September 11, 2001, is regarded around the world as simply Nine Eleven.
The year 2001 becomes parenthetical (Non-Essential), and a comma goes before AND after the year because the day of the month and the month have been mentioned.

*Noteb* When you mention September 2001 to anyone, they immediately remember where they were on the eleventh.
The day of the month has not been mentioned, so no comma is used around the year 2001 because it is essential. Notice the comma after the Introductory Adverbial Clause [2].

Rule #28: Numbers
*Checkb* Use a comma to separate each group of three digits when referring to Numbers.

Examples of Numbers:

*Noteb* The government loaned the bank $25,000,000,000.00 in bailout funds. The bank won’t loan me $1,000.00.
Reading from right to left, commas are needed after the decimal point for each group of three digits.

Rule #29: Cities and States
*Checkb* Use a comma or a set of commas to make the State or Country parenthetical (Non-Essential Element) when both city and state or county and country are mentioned.

If you use the initialed abbreviation of a state or country, you STILL need the comma before AND after the state. Addresses on envelopes mailed via the post office do not use any punctuation.

Examples of Cities and States:

*Noteb* My class assistant Pat lives in Sylacauga, Alabama, near Central Park.
Since the city is mentioned, the state is parenthetical and requires commas before and after it. Notice there are no commas surrounding the Essential Appositive Pat [22]. I have three assistants.

*Noteb* My dad was born in Moonshine Hill, Tx, on Halloween 1924.
A comma goes before and after the abbreviation for Texas. In formal writing, however, Texas should be spelled out and not abbreviated.

*Noteb* I've always wanted to visit County Cork, Ireland, where my maternal great-grandmother, Kate, was born.
The country Ireland requires commas around it, just like a parenthetical state, since the county is mentioned.

Rule #30: Titles - Degrees - Suffixes
*Checkb* Use commas to set off Titles and Academic Degrees and Associations following the names of persons. These are considered parenthetical (non-essential).

When a title is positioned BEFORE the person's name, no comma is used. But after the person's name, a comma is used to set off titles such as King of England, Attorney at Law, Esq., A.A.S., BA, Ph.D., and D.V.M.

AFTER the person's name, commas were never used around Roman numeral suffixes such as II or III or XI, but commas were traditionally used before the suffixes Jr. and Sr. However, beginning with the fourteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (1993), the recommendation, now, is to use no commas with regards to Jr. or Sr.

Examples of Titles - Degrees - Suffixes:

*Noteb* The Right Honorable Rowan Douglas Williams, FBA, FRSL, FLSW, Archbishop of Canterbury, conducted the marriage of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton.
Ole Rowan must be a busy man! The title before Rowan's name takes no comma after it. All those organizations and his title as Archbishop denoted after his name must have commas around them. The same is true for Prince William's title as the duke.

*Noteb* Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, born April 21,1926, is simply known as Queen Elizabeth II.
No comma should precede the queen's suffix II.

*Noteb* Phillip Charles Winchester III, D.V.M., is on his way to the Castle to operate on Wellington Sr.
No commas are used around the suffix III or Sr. in this sentence. However, D.V.M. indicates Phillip's degree as a veterinarian, thus making it parenthetical, and commas surround it.


Rule #1 - Independent Clauses Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (use commas)
>>Exception #1xa: Independent Clauses Joined by So That (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xb: Independent Clauses Joined by Subordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas-usually)
>>Exception #1xc: Short Independent Clauses Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xd: Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions (don't use commas)
>>Exception #1xe: Clauses and Phrases Joined by Coordinating Conjunctions Expressing Extreme Contrast (use commas)

Rule #2 - Introductory Adverbial Clauses (use commas)
Rule #3 - Coordinate Adjectives (use commas)
Rule #4 - Non-Coordinate Adjectives (don’t use commas)
Rule #5 - Non-Essential Elements (use commas)
Rule #6 - Essential Elements (don't use commas)
Rule #7 - Essential That Clauses (don't use commas)

Rule #8 - Elements in a Series (use commas)
>>Exception #8x: Conjunctions separating each element (don't use commas)
Rule #9 - Introductory Phrases (use commas)
>>Exception #9x: Short Introductory Prepositional Phrases (don't use commas)
Rule #10 - Ending Participial Phrases (don't use commas)
>>Exception #10x: Ending Participial Phrase not immediately next to word it modifies (use commas)
Rule #11 - Introductory Transitional Words (use commas)
>>Exception #11x: Coordinating conjunction used as an Introductory Transitional Word (don't use commas)
Rule #12 - Interjections (use commas)

Rule #13 (formerly 1xb) - Ending Adverbial Clauses (don’t use commas-usually)
>>Exception #13x: Ending Conjunctive Adverbial Then Phrases (use commas-with exceptions)
Rule #14 - Disjunctive Adverbial Words (use commas)
Rule #15 - Adjunctive Adverbial Words (don’t use commas)
Rule #16 - Absolute Phrases
(use commas)

Rule #17 - Disjunctive Adverbs In Short Sentences (don’t use commas)
>>Exception #17x: Certain Disjunctive Adverbs & Expression of Emphasis In Short Sentences (use commas)
Rule #18 - Shared Subjects (don’t use commas)
Rule #19 - Separation of Subjects and Verbs (don’t use commas)
Rule #20 - Comma Splices (don’t use commas)

Rule #21 - Non-Essential Appositives (use commas)
Rule #22 - Essential Appositives (don’t use commas)
Rule #23 - Interrupters: Expressions-Remarks-Confirmatory Questions-Direct Addresses (use commas)
Rule #24 (formerly 1xe) - Contrasting Coordinate Elements (use commas)
>>Exception #24xa: Correlative Conjunctions (don’t use commas)
>>Exception #24xb: Comparative Correlative (use commas)

Rule #25 - Dialogue Tags (use commas - with exceptions)
Rule #26 - Salutations and Closings of Letters (use commas)
Rule #27 - Dates (use commas - with exceptions)
Rule #28 - Numbers (use commas)
Rule #29 - Cities and States (use commas - with exceptions)
Rule #30 - Titles - Degrees - Suffixes
(use commas - with exceptions)

Click here for "Parts of Speech for Comma Sense Class

Instructor: Winnie Kay *Smile*

Resource Links for this Lesson:

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