Five Comma Rules

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Use a comma after an introductory phrase or clause

According to Wilbur, good friends who write well are not easy to find.

Use commas before and after a parenthetical phrase or clause

Wilbur, E.B. White's famous pig, laments that it is difficult to find a good friend who writes well.

Use a comma to separate two independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor or, so, yet)

Charlotte promised Wilbur she will save his life, and she ponders long and hard how to do so.

Use a comma to separate items in a series.

The Other animals in the farmyard, the rat, the geese, and the sheep, are amazed at Charlotte's masterful plan to save Wilbur.

Use a comma before a quotation when an introductory phrase with a word like say or reply precedes the quotation.

More on punctuation of quotes...

Wilbur says, "It's not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer" (White 184).

Thanks to Julie-Francoise Kruidenier '02 for the above insights.

Works Cited

White, E.B. Charlotte's Web. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, 1980.

Contact Information

Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center

Kirner-Johnson 152
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, N.Y. 13323
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