Commas

Definition:

The comma is a useful punctuation device that separates the structural elements of sentences into manageable segments.

[http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/01/]

When to use it:

You should:
-use a comma to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.
-use a comma after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause
-use a comma in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
-not use a comma to set off essential elements of the sentence, such as clauses beginning with that (relative clauses).
-use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series.
-use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun
-use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate elements or to indicate a distinct pause or shift.
-use commas to set off phrases at the end of the sentence that refer back to the beginning or middle of the sentence.
-use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), addresses (except the street number and name), and titles in names.
-use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation
-use commas wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading

How can it help:

A comma can be very helpful when you're listing off things in a sentence. This helps because you dont have to use and after every word; you can just list them off with a comma in between.
Example: I went to the mall earlier and bought a hat, three t-shirts, shoes, gloves and shorts.
It is also very useful when reading because a comma can show a pause in the sentence.
Example: The water is good, however I like it better out of the purifier.
"Hey Joey, got any money on you?"

Correct Usage:

*Example: "Let's go to the store," said Steve.
"You went to the game last night too, didn't you?"
Zach, the goalie on the hockey team, wants to go to the mall.

Incorrect Usage:

*Example: "I like my car a lot, it is a Navigator.
The is incorrect because there are two complete sentences and if you want to combine them into one, you need a transitional word like and. The comma in this case should be a period.

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