Comma_FinalIn a writing examination of the IELTS and TOEFL, the ‘comma’ plays an important role.

For example, read the following sentence: “Today we are going to learn to cook and bake kids”. See how disastrous it is to miss a comma?

As a child, I learned one basic rule for the usage of commas: use them when you are not using a period(.). Well! I did try that, but it didn’t do any good. I did, however, learn a few hacks that help understand comma use better and as a result improve my writing substantially: here are some of those writing hacks I’ve learned over time.

Use Commas when you “Make a list”

This rule is the most basic one. Use commas for creating a list.

Eg: Tom, Dick, and Harry went to a shop, a theater, and a mall respectively.

To me, it looks like three sentences are combined into one. The benefit of creating a list?

It keeps your writing short and concise. The fewer the words a reader has to read, the better you could keep one engaged.

Use commas to “add adjectives” in a sentence.

Eg: The minion soft-toy I bought from the market is so cute, adorable, and captivating.

Whenever I talk about minions to my friends, I cannot help but create a huge list of adjectives to define how amazing they are! Notice how I put together a huge list of adjectives without using the conjunction – “and ” more than once?

How to avoid the “comma splice”?

In a race, if you run over another racer, you both lose the game! And, the entire effort is wasted. Similarly, at times we create run-on sentence, subconsciously, just because we wanted to add a lot of information without any pause.

Have a look at this example:

“We see rainbows during the rainy season, it is a meteorological phenomenon”

Though the sentence looks correct, it is not correct grammatically. The correct forms of that sentence are:

  1. We see rainbows during the rainy season; it is a meteorological phenomenon. (or)
  2. We see rainbows during the rainy season, and it is a meteorological phenomenon. (or)
  3. We see rainbows during the rainy season. It is a meteorological phenomenon.

We can join two strong clauses using a semicolon (;) as in sentence 1; or using a comma (,) and conjunction (and) as in sentence 2. If it still confuses you, just create simple sentences and use period(.), as in sentence 3.

Joining two independent clauses using a comma is acceptable in a few languages, but not in English. This error is known as the “comma splice”Commas(,) are important. It gives a meaningful pause to your thoughts without putting an end to it, unlike period(.). But it is not the only punctuation we need to be vigilant about while writing.  

If punctuation troubles you, please comment below and we’ll help you sort out your confusion! If you enjoyed reading this article , check out our article on improving reading skills

A post graduate of Literature, Khusboo Jain has a diverse teaching experience in English Language since 2013. She worked as a consultant in schools as well as taught English Language programs for Test Preparation. She loves to spend her free time pouring over books about English Language Teaching; She also loves to volunteer in literary events.