So Many Commas, So Many Uses!

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13660

Commas can be a complicated punctuation mark because they have so many completely different uses! This lesson will help you use commas in series, dates, and places. Here's to it!

categories

Grammar, Reading

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

grandma joke

  • Have you seen this joke before?

Whether it is old or new, it is clear that commas save lives! Haha!

  • What else do commas do?

Keep reading to find out!

In this lesson, you will learn how commas should be used in dates, places, and series.

You will then be able to apply this comma usage to your own writing. This is important because it will allow your writing to be grammatically correct and, therefore, more easily understood by others.

Okay, let's get started!

First, we will look at commas in places.

There are different comma rules depending on what type of location you are describing and different formats, depending on where you are writing the information.

Geographical Name or Location

When a geographical name has two or more parts, use a comma after each different type of part.

Use another comma after the last item, unless it comes at the end of the sentence.

In other words:

  • use a comma to separate city and state
  • use a comma after the last item

Example:

  • I had been to Savannah, Georgia, instead of Charleston, South Carolina.

If the parts are joined by a preposition, you don't need to use a comma.

Example:

  • I had been to Savannah in Georgia instead of Charleston in South Carolina.

Address in Context

In an address, place a comma after the street and between the name of the city and the state.

Do not place a comma between the state and the ZIP code.

Example:

  • 2606 Butterfield Street, Commonworth, MI 48865

If the address is written in the middle of a sentence, put another comma after the address.

Example:

  • I lived at 888 Circlepoint Drive, Birdway, Indiana, for five years.

Address on Envelope (or Written Out Line by Line)

No comma is needed when a new line begins. You would only need a comma between the city and the state.

Example:

  • 139 Daffodil Lane
    Sheldon, VA 24908

Now, let's check out commas in dates.

A comma is used to separate the day from the month and the date from the year.

Examples:

  • I was born on Sunday, May 14, 1989.
  • July 4, 1776 was an important day for America.

If you're writing the date in day-month-year format or year-month-day format, you don't need a comma.

Examples:

  • The project is due on 1 June 2022.
  • I met her on 2006 September 14.

While these formats are rare ways to write the date in the United States, they are the common formats across the rest of the world.

Use a comma after the date when it appears in the middle of a sentence.

Examples:

  • On Friday, October 31st, we'll have a small gathering in the park.
  • Please turn in your library books by Saturday, December 20th, 2021, to make sure you don't have a fine.

When you're only using a month and a year, you don't need a comma.

Example:

  • A summer hasn't been this warm since August 2015.

Finally, let's see what the grammar rules have to say about commas in a series.

A series is a group of related or similar things.

Commas need to be used when there are three or more words in a series, phrases in a series, or clauses in a series. A conjunction would then go between the last two items of the series.

Let's look more deeply at examples of each of these.

Words in a Series

Examples:

  • You will need to use paper, a pencil, and a calculator.
  • To make the recipe, I need to buy milk, spinach, and cheese.

Phrases in a Series

Examples:

  • In the summer he plans to go hiking in the mountains, surfing in the ocean, and paddleboarding on the lake.
  • The puppy chased its sibling under the table, around the TV stand, and out the door.

Clauses in a Series

Examples:

  • We went to the store, and we went to the restaurant, but we didn't get to stop by the park.
  • The wedding planner wasn't sure if you were coming, if you and your date were coming, or if everyone was planning on attending.

Oxford Comma

When you have a conjunction between the last two items of the series, that comma before the conjunction is called an Oxford comma, and some people think it is optional.

However, it might cause confusion to not include it; so it is better to include it. Better safe than sorry!

Correct Example:

  • After I looked at the menu, I realized I wanted ice cream, cheesecake, and pudding.

Confusing Example:

  • After I looked at the menu, I realized that I wanted ice cream, cheeesecake and pudding.

However, if you are separating items in a series with conjunctions (but, and, yet, or, etc.), commas are NOT used.

Example:

  • I felt like I had been tricked and teased and mocked.

You just learned a LOT of specifics about how commas are used. Feel free to read through the information and study it again.

Once you feel like you've grasped the concepts, go to the Got It? section to devote some time toward practicing.

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