Commas are annoying but a fact of life in the English language. Last week, I discussed a few straightforward comma usage rules. Today, let’s look at a few more rules of comma usage:

1. Commas used to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. Ex. Jimmy made sure to wear a suit, tie, blazer jacket and khakis to court.  
2. Commas used to separate coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun. (Coordinate adjectives are adjectives that appear in sequence with one another to modify a noun directly following the adjectives.) Ex. He wore a striped, blue tie and a loose-fitting, navy blue jacket. 
3. Commas used to set off parenthetical elements (clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence). Ex. Jimmy walked out of court, breathing in and out to steady himself, and shook his lawyer’s hand for getting him an acquittal.

Try to apply these three rules to the following sentences, by placing the commas in the appropriate spot:

1. Jimmy got up early brushed his teeth got dressed and ate a small breakfast before heading to court.
2. He got in his dented yellow Ford truck and hurried to the courthouse. 
3. Jimmy visited his mother who had been terrified that he would be locked away and took her out to dinner.

See the key below to check your answers! Next Monday, we’ll take a look at a few other common comma problems. 

Answer key:

  1. Jimmy got up early, brushed his teeth, got dressed and ate a small breakfast before heading to court.
  2. He got in his dented, yellow Ford truck and hurried to the courthouse. 
  3. Jimmy visited his mother, who had been terrified that he would be locked away, and took her out to dinner.
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