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comma

Commas save lives.

Definition:

A punctuation mark ( , ) used to indicate a separation of ideas or of elements within a sentence.

Comma Exercises and Quizzes

See also:

Etymology:

From the Greek, "a piece cut off"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
    (Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince)


  • "Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody."
    (Mark Twain)


  • "Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead."
    (James Thurber)


  • "Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet."
    (Mae West)


  • Jenna Maroney: We have to stop Jayden Tyler! He's evil, Tracy!
    Tracy Jordan: He's evil Tracy? Oh, he's evil, comma, Tracy.
    (Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan, "Audition Day." 30 Rock, 2009)


  • "Besides nurturing attributions, commas deftly separate clauses, clarify murky sentences, fence off appositives, asides and inessentials, organize series, sunder absolute verbs and direct addresses from the main sentence, and perform a fistful of other chores."
    (Rene J. Cappon, The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation. Basic Books, 2003)


  • "From one casual of mine he picked this sentence: 'After dinner, the men moved into the living room.' I explained to the professor that this was [editor Harold] Ross’s way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up."
    (James Thurber)


  • "'Take care of the commas and the other stops will take care of themselves,' for the writer who handles this puny little stop correctly and sensibly can probably punctuate as well as need be."
    (G.V. Carey, Mind the Stop. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1958)


  • "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money."
    (Senator Everett Dirksen)


  • "Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect."
    (Steven Wright)


  • Sawyer: You're in my light, sticks.
    Shannon: Light sticks? What the hell is that supposed . . .
    Sawyer: Light. Comma. Sticks. As in those legs of yours.
    (Lost)


  • William H. Gass on the Many Kinds of Commas
    "Alas, there are so many kinds of commas: those that lie like rocks in the path of a sentence, slowing its gait and requiring the reader's heed to avoid a stumble; their gentler cousins, impairing a pell-mell flow of meaning the way pebbles slow a stream; commas that indicate a pause for thinking things over; commas enclosing phrases the way the small pockets in a purse hug hairpins or collect bits of loose change; commas that return us to our last stop, and those that some schoolmarm has insisted should be placed, like a traffic cop, between 'stop' and 'and.'"
    (William H. Gass, "Enter a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop's: Revision and Craft." Harper's, October 2011)
Pronunciation: KOM-ah
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