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1.4: Commas

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

This resource deals with punctuation, specifically, commas.


Some questions on the GED will ask you to correct punctuation errors. To prepare for these questions, review the punctuation rules below. Reviewing these rules will also help you edit your essay.


Most of the errors you will be asked to correct will involve comma use. You’ll notice that many of the rules discussed here relate to the information on sentence structure from Lesson 2. It might be useful for you look at both lessons and draw some connections between them.

Use a comma before a conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet) to join two independent clauses:

Use a comma after an introductory phrase. Also use a comma after a subordinate clause at the beginning of the sentence (see Lesson 2 for information about subordinate clauses).

Use a comma to separate elements in a list. Sometimes, writers will leave off the comma before the final element in a list. While this is acceptable, it’s generally included.

Use a comma to set off information that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Use a comma between adjectives that are separate (meaning that each adjective independently describes the noun).

Use a comma after a transitional word or phrase (see Lesson 1 for a list of transitional words and phrases).

Use a comma with a date.

Use a comma to separate a city name from a state name.

Comma Exercise 1

Place commas wherever they are needed in the following sentences.

1. There was no question that John's painting a huge colorful and ugly mural was the worst entry in the art exhibit.
2. Werner von Braun Willy Ley and Edward Teller noted authorities in the field of rocket development have done much to guide the missile program of the United States.
3. Mr. Cready's ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time is I believe amazing.
4. Running around the house the dog was abruptly stopped by a fence.
5. If the opposition should win our candidate would never have any political future.
6. Gracefully lightly and daintily the ballerina moved across the stage.
7. Glamour the woman's fashion magazine recently incorporated with Charm another fashion journal.
8. Joe was born on May 7 1955 and his best friend was born exactly two months later on July 7 1955.
9. Mr. and Mrs. Kwon my parents' best friends sat in front of us at the football game.
10. November 11 1918 the armistice ending World War I was signed.

Click here for exercise answers.

Comma Exercise 2

Place commas wherever they are needed in the following sentences.
1. We went to Bar Harbor but did not take the ferry to Nova Scotia.
2. The ginkgo tree whose leaves turn bright yellow in the fall came to this country from Asia.
3. The address for the governor's mansion is 391 West Ferry Road Atlanta Georgia.
4. The villagers enjoyed fairs festivals and good conversation.
5. When the intermission was over the members of the audience moved back to their seats.
6. Andy took the elevator to the third floor rushed into the office and asked to see his father.
7. When he stumbled over your feet William was clumsy not rude.
8. She listened to her favorite record with close careful attention.
9. Jillian who had worked in the dress shop all summer hoped to work there again during the Christmas holidays.
10. Go the first traffic light turn left and then look for a yellow brick building on the north side of the street.
11. Once she has graduated I do not know where she is going or what she is planning to do.
12. "Oh no," Max exclaimed "I think that Dr. Holmes was referring to Eliot the novelist not Eliot the poet."
13. Below the fields stretched out in a hundred shades of green.
14. To understand the purpose of the course the student needs to read the syllabus.
15. All students are eligible to receive tickets but must go to the athletic office to pick them up.
16. Thomas Paine's pamphlet appeared in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on January 9 1776.
17. You don't want any more hamburgers do you?

Click here for exercise answers.

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