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Chapter 15. Correctness > 3.3.6 Inappropriate Comma Use

3.3.6 Inappropriate Comma Use

It is a mistake to use a comma simply because you think your reader will need a pause or you believe it sounds like a comma is needed. Instead, you should follow the four rules below for comma use within sentences. If you cannot think of one of these reasons, then do not use the comma:

  1. To separate words or phrases in a series: “Terminals, printers, and screens, must all be redistributed.”

  2. To separate sentences joined by coordinate conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet): “Some structures were carrying heavy and tall pressure vessels, and some were carrying vibrating machinery.”

  3. To set off introductory elements: (A) “In fact, the regression analysis proved quite useful.” (B) Although problems hampered the experiment, I still consider it successful.”

  4. To set off nonrestrictive (additional) elements: The 3.5 inch 1.44Mb disk drive, which was purchased last month, appears to be convenient and reliable.”


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