Why, Commas Really DO Matter! COMMA RULE # 1: USE COMMAS TO SEPARATE ITEMS IN A SERIES A Little Comma Humor for You… COMMAS SAVE LIVES! A panda, carrying a bow and arrow, walks into the Trinity Middle School library… He eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. “Why did you do that?” Ms. Sanker nervously asks as the panda walks toward the Red/Green Pod exit. The panda tosses Ms. Sanker a badly punctuated book. “I’m a panda,” he says, “That’s what it says we do.” The panda leaves and Ms. Sanker, puzzled, opens to the first page of the book. It reads… “PANDA: Large black-and-white mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves. Just Ask Your Grandma… Let’s eat grandma! Whoa! What does this sentence say??? What does it mean to say? See? Commas really DO save lives! Comma Rule #1 Use Commas to Separate Items in a Series A series is a group of three or more items in a row. Types of items in a series include… Words in a Series Phrases in a Series Clauses in a Series Words in a Series Example Ms. Wherry, Ms. Birch, and Ms. Beck are seventh-grade English teachers at Trinity Middle School. Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives! Example The cold, crisp air made the night perfect for trick-or-treating. Phrases in a Series Example To go skydiving, to visit Ireland, and to meet someone famous are all things on Ms. Wherry’s bucket list. Clauses in a Series Example Pay attention, study hard, and complete your homework so that you can ace your comma usage test! A General Rule of Thumb… (The number of items you have in your series)-1= The number of commas that should appear in your sentence! HOWEVER… If you only have two items in your series, you do not need a comma! Example: You will need a pencil and plenty of paper. OR… If all of the words in your series are joined by and or or, you do not need commas to separate them. Example: Ms. Wherry likes apples and bananas and strawberries but does not like oranges. A Word About Semi-Colons Commas separate clauses in a series. BUT… If you have a series of long, independent clauses, separate these clauses using a semi-colon Example: Yawning, my dog Zoey laid down on the couch; I, who had just finished reading a book, turned on the television; and my younger brother, Paul, worked diligently on his homework. Let’s Practice! Exercise 3, pg. 337 Cleveland Cincinnati Toledo and Dayton are four large cities in Ohio. Let’s Practice! Exercise 3, pg. 337 The captain entered the cockpit checked the instruments and prepared for takeoff. Let’s Practice! Exercise 3, pg. 337 The speaker took a deep breath and read the report. Let’s Practice! Exercise 3, pg. 337 The neighbors searched behind the garages in the bushes and along the highway. Let’s Practice! Exercise 3, pg. 337 Rover can roll over walk on his hind feet and catch a tennis ball. Let’s Practice! Ghosts goblins witches and zombies will be roaming the streets tonight, frightening Ms. Wherry. Let’s Practice! Rattling chains and misty fog and eerie lighting are just a few classic ways to make a house look spooky for Halloween. Let’s Practice! The big scary monster stalked the smallest slowest child as he trick-ortreated in his neighborhood. Let’s Practice! Halloween pencils and skull rings are Ms. Wherry’s boo-tiful gift to you! Commas Between Two or More Adjectives are Important… …Or You Would be Talking About This… So, Commas Separate Items in a Series Just like this… But When You Change the Punctuation… The meaning of the sentence changes!