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In English, punctuation is important. If you care about your readers, learn how to use punctuation properly. We all make mistakes sometimes. In fact, I have to look up comma rules regularly. This is one of my favourite resources for advanced comma questions.
The most common punctuation error I see on MyEC is the comma splice. This is the use of a comma instead of a period between two independent clauses (when no conjunction is used). It's easy to spot this error when the sentences are short:
Error: My name is John Smith, I am a farmer.
Correction: My name is John Smith. I am a farmer. OR My name is John Smith, and I am a farmer.
Some English learners think long sentences are better. They think long sentences make their writing look more advanced. I disagree! As a teacher, I'd rather see short sentences written correctly than long sentences with many incorrectly placed commas. When in doubt, use two or three short sentences to get your idea across. After you learn how to use commas correctly, play around with sentence variety.
1) Review EnglishClub.com's lesson on How to use a Comma. There are 12 types of commas mentioned in this lesson.
2) Start a new blog post. Call your post Writing Challenge: Correcting Commas.
3) Write 12 sentences about MyEC or its members. Your sentences will show that you know how to use each of the 12 different types of commas from EnglishClub.com's lesson. (see my examples)
*For #12, find a comma splice on a MyEC blog post. Copy the sentence and write the correction. (No need to mention where you found the error.).
4) Come back and share a link to your post in the comments! I will check your sentences.
Correcting Commas: 12 Example Sentences
1) In a list:
Robbie likes writing blogs, making videos, and drawing illustrations to go with his blog posts.
2) Between 3 or more adjectives or adverbs:
The MyEC photo gallery is an educational, colourful, moderated space for English practice.
3) With two adjectives:
The Learning English Video Project is an informative, entertaining documentary.
4) With numbers:
The 50,000th member of MyEC was Mogal Satish.
5) For addresses or dates:
Our 50,000th member arrived on December 30, 2011. He was from Maharashtra, India.
6) For direct speech:
JK said, "Just ignore that chatter. He's a troublemaker."
"Thank you," the new member said. "Can you show me how to use the ignore button?"
7) Before a coordinating conjunction:
Tara was away from the Audio Speaking Group for a while, but Ohnie and others filled in.
8) For parenthetical elements:
Josef, who is the founder of EnglishClub, posted a great photo from Vietnam.
9) After an introductory element:
After creating a new photo challenge, Nadiyah invited her friends to join.
10) With sentence adverbs:
Our 20,000th member, not surprisingly, was overwhelmed by our welcome messages.
11) With adverbial clauses:
a) If ESL Teacher Lisa Jo moderates a chat on MyEC, many chatters will participate.
b) Many MyEC chatters will participate if Lisa Jo moderates the chat. (no comma)
12) Run-on sentence correction:
Error found: It seems that you have good news about your work, you are clever, and you will succeed.
Correction: "It seems that you have good news about your work. You are clever, and you will succeed."
Tip for challenge participants: Copy and paste my list of 12 into your blog post. Delete my example sentences and write your own for each of the 12 types.
Note: There are always exceptions to language rules. You will find commas used in other ways. It's always best to learn the basic rules before you learn how to break them.
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