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How to Use Those Pesky Little Squiggles

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How to Use Those Pesky Little Squiggles (Commas)

Notes: English 10A

Before we talk commas…

You need to understand two important parts of a sentence: independent clause and dependent clauses.  

Independent clause/very simple sentence:

  • Expresses a complete thought and can stand on its own as a sent ence
  • Mia and Luna are my two cats.
  • They are playful and fun.

Dependent clause/not quite a complete sentence

  • Does not express a complete thought and cannot stand as its own sentence.
  • pouncing on her head
  • eating from the bowl
  • with her collar

Rule of thumb:

Any time you have something added before, after, or in between a very simple sentence, put commas around it!

  • The cat ran down the hallway.
  • Chasing a ball, the cat ran down the hallway. 
  • The cat, a chubby calico, chased the ball down the hallway. 
  • The cat chased the ball down the hallway, which was already strewn with cat toys.


 Clauses/Phrases at the Beginning of a Sentence

If a word, phrase, or clause comes before your independent clause, separate it with a comma.   These introductory elements could be a word or phrase.  


  • With a mischievous glimmer in her eyes, Mia jumped up on the sofa.  
  • Jumping from the sofa, Mia landed on her feet.
  • However, she knocked over the lamp on the table.
  • Ultimately, she looked as though she had done nothing wrong.
  • Write your own example in the space below:
  1. After school, she played with her sister.
  2.  As a result, she never talk to me again.
  3.  Moreover, my mom never let me go there.


 Clauses/Phrases in the Middle of a Sentence (Interrupters)

If a word, phrase, or clause interrupts the independent clause, put commas around it. This applies only to nonessential clauses and phrases.  In other words, this is a phrase you could take out of the sentence, and the sentence would still make sense.  

  • Luna is, in fact, a cross between a tabby and a calico.  
  • Luna, a rather young kitten, is still active and playful.
  • Luna, lurking just around the corner, jumped out and pounced on Mia’s head. 
  • Write examples in the space below:
  1. Valeria is, one of the best, players here.
  2.  Mauricio, will never be, a nice guy.
  3. I like, when it’s raining, It’s calm.


 Clauses/Phrases at the End of a Sentence

If you have an added a nonessential clause or phrase at the end of a sentence, put a comma in front of it.

  • Mia is a hungry cat, eating treats all the time.
  • Mia sat by the window, watching a squirrel scurry across the yard.  
  • Luna played with the stuffed mouse, which was her favorite toy.  
  • Write examples in the space below.
  1.  My friends hate go to cinema, they prefer to watch Netflix.
  2.  Kate can be very rude sometimes, she is always screaming.
  3. My brother loves to play with my toys, even if they are for girls.




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