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Grade 4 - English Language
2.6 Punctuation Review - Comma and Semi-colon

When properly placed, commas clarify meaning by helping readers organize information. Without it, sentence parts can collide into one another and cause confusion. However, too many commas can cause distraction.

RULES FOR COMMA USAGE:

  1. Commas with numbers
    - Use commas to separate off the thousands, millions and billions in numbers.
    Example: 2,460,558
    - Don’t use commas in decimals.
    Example: $4.79
    - Use a comma before the year if the date is given as follows: month, day, year.
    Example: January 11, 2004
    - Don’t use a comma if only two elements of the date are given (e.g. month and year).
    Example: I was born in August 1989.

  2. Commas with salutations
    - Use a comma if the sentence starts with an address to someone.
    Example: John, can I talk to you for a second?
    - Use a comma with salutations in private letters.
    Example: Dear Julie,
    - After the greeting, the comma is optional.
    Example: Sincerely, or Sincerely

  3. Commas with "please"
    - Use a comma if "please" is at the end of a request.
    Example: Send me a mail, please.
    - Don't use a comma if "please" is at the beginning of a request.
    Example: Please send me a mail.

  4. Commas with affirmatives, negatives and question tags
    - Use a comma after yes and no.
    Example: Yes, I can help you.
    - Use a comma before question tags.
    Example: You are Scottish, aren't you?

  5. Commas with adjectives
    - Use a comma if the adjectives are equally important and give similar kinds of information. Example: It was a cold, windy night.
    - Don't use a comma if the adjectives are not equally important or give different kinds of information.
    Example: She is a clever young woman.
    Note: To check if adjectives give similar kinds of information or not, put and between the adjectives. (It was a cold and windy night.)
    If adjectives give different kinds of information, the and between the adjectives doesn't sound right. (She is a clever and young woman.)

  6. Commas with adverbs
    - Use a comma after certain adverbs: however, in fact, therefore, nevertheless, moreover, furthermore, still, instead, too (meaning 'also').
    - If these adverbs appear in the middle of a sentence, they are enclosed in commas.
    Example: The boy, however, was very smart.
    - The comma is optional for the following adverbs: then, so, yet.
    Example:
    Then, she ran upstairs. Then she ran upstairs.

  7. Commas with series
    - Use a comma to separate items in an enumeration. Example: Mrs. B had a dog, cat, fish and a pig.
    - Don’t use a comma before and if two items are a unit Ham and eggs as a dish is a unit and should therefore not be separated by a comma.
    Example: Mrs. B had soup, ham and eggs, juice and apple pie for lunch.
    - Don't use a comma if all items in an enumeration are separated by and, or, nor etc.
    Example: Mrs. B had a pig and a dog and a cow and a horse.

  8. Commas between main clauses
    - Use a comma between two main clauses which are separated by and or but.
    Example: We ran out of fuel, and the nearest petrol station was 5 miles away.
    - Use a comma to separate parts of a sentences in a sequence.
    Example: She ran down the stairs, opened the door, saw her mom(,) and gave her a hug.
    - Don’t use a comma if these parts of the sentence are separated by and or but.
    Example: She ran down the stairs and opened the door and saw her mom and gave her a hug.

  9. Commas with conditional sentences
    - Use a comma if the if clause is at the beginning of the sentence.
    Example: If I go to London, I will visit the Tower.
    - Don’t use a comma if the if clause is at the end of the sentence.
    Example: I will visit the Tower if I go to London.

  10. Commas with direct speech
    - Use a comma after the introductory clause.

  11. Commas with introductory clauses
    - Use a comma after the introductory clause.
    Example: She said, “I was in London last year.”
    -If the direct speech is at the beginning of the sentence, put the comma before the final quotation mark. (Don’t use a full stop here.)
    Example: “I was in London last year,” she said. - Don’t use a comma after direct speech if the direct speech ends with a question mark or exclamation mark.
    Example: “Were you in London last year?” he asked. (but: He asked, “Were you in London last year?”) “Great!” she replied. (but: She replied, “Great!”)

  12. Commas with introductory clauses Use a comma after introductory infinitive clauses.
    Example: To improve her math, she practiced at kwizNET.com every day.
    - Use a comma after introductory prepositional clauses.
    Example: Before he went to New York, he had spent a year in Australia. - Use a comma after introductory participle clauses.
    Example: Having said this, he left the room.

  13. Commas with additional information
    - Use a comma if the additional information is not part of the main statement.
    Example: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today.
    - Use a comma in relative clauses before who and which if the information is not essential for the understanding of the sentence.
    Example: Her brother, who lives in Chicago, came to see her. She has only one brother. He lives in Chicago and came to see her. - Don’t use a comma in relative clauses if the information is essential for the understanding of the sentence.
    Example: Her brother who lives in Chicago came to see her. She has more than one brother. But she was visited by only one of them–the brother who lives in Chicago. - Don’t use a comma if the relative clause starts with that.
    Example: The book that I’m reading now is interesting.

  14. Commas with opposites
    - Use a comma with opposites, even if they are separated by and or but.
    Example: It was the father, and not the son, who went to the disco every Friday.

RULES FOR SEMI-COLON USAGE:

The semi-colon indicates a stronger division than a comma, but a weaker one than a full stop.
  1. Semi-colon with enumerations
    - Use a semi-colon in enumerations if a comma is already used to further separate an item of the sequence.
    Example: We have business partners in Toronto, Canada; Bombay, India; and Paris, France.

  2. Semi-colon between main clauses
    - Use a semi-colon between two main clauses if they are not separated by and, or etc.
    Example: The rain stopped; the sun came out again.
    - Use a semi-colon between two main clauses with conjunctions (e.g. and, or) if a comma is used in at least one of the main clauses.
    Example: James had, to put it mildly, a lot of problems; and not even his best friend could help him.
    - Use a semi-colon between two main clauses if the second one starts with an adverb that has to be enclosed in commas (e.g. however, in fact, therefore, nevertheless, moreover, furthermore, still, instead).
    Example: He didn't feel well; in fact, he had a very high temperature.

Directions: Read each sentence and find the word after which there should be a comma to correct the punctuation. Write two examples for each of the comma and semi-colon usage rules described above.
Q 1: I may be visiting Ontario Canada after I graduate from high school.
from
graduate
Canada
Ontario

Q 2: I would like to visit my relatives in Lincoln, Rhode Island in the summer.
visit
Rhode Island
relatives
like

Q 3: Students always do the best you can in everything you do.
Students
can
always
best

Q 4: Run Joe and get the ball.
get
and
the
Joe

Q 5: No they don't.
No
don't
they

Q 6: Melissa are you ready to go yet?
ready
Melissa
are
go

Q 7: No he doesn't like jazz.
No
he
doesn't
like

Q 8: She bought the kittens flea collars, a litter box and some kitty treats.
box
kitty
litter
flea

Question 9: This question is available to subscribers only!

Question 10: This question is available to subscribers only!


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