Writing Challenge: Correcting Commas

What is the difference between a comma and a period? A comma is a pause. A period is a full stop.

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

Your Task

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.

My Example
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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  • Dear Teacher Tara, I missed this useful challenge.

    However, I just published mine. Will you please check my sentences? I'd grateful. Thanks a billion in advance.

  • Dear Tara,

    Yes, it is a comprehensive description about how to use commas correctly! An explanation of this nature is very useful to me because I always make an attempt to improve my English writing skills. I know that I make errors in writing in English, but I am happy now because of the excellent assistance rendered here, in EC!

    Good Luck!


  • Hi teacher Tara,

    Here is my blog for this challenge. I'm waiting to see if there are some mistakes. :)

  • @Ogundele Your writing is very good! The most important tip I can give you is to read, read, read! The more you read (at an appropriate level), the stronger your own writing will become. Reading will help you build your vocabulary too. 

  • Hi my lovely teacher, I'm very impressed with your blog. Infact you really motivate me to proceed in learning English. Ever since Jan last year, I have stopped posting blog due to my fear and doubting of using wrong sentence because of humiliation. However, my English has since then worst even more than before. Can you please advice me on how to improve my English both writing and others especially, how i can improve my vocabulary?
  • Hi Tara,

      Here is my blog about this month's writing challenge. : )

  • It's useful.You are a good teacher.

  • @Mehran (and all MyEC learners who want to improve their writing skills)

    Great to hear! First you need to practise writing short sentences. This message needs some punctuation:

    1) I am practicing for writing but i don't know my writing is correct or incorrect. sometime i write something but i think that its means is difficult for understanding by others. if any person like have practice same me can write for me and correction my litter, myeamil:sgdorna@yahoo.com 

    You also need to work on capitalizing your sentences: 

     2) I am practicing for writing but I don't know my writing is correct or incorrect. Sometime write something but think that its means is difficult for understanding by others. If any person like have practice same me can write for me and correction my litter myeamil:sgdorna@yahoo.com

    3. You can also check your spelling (though your spelling is pretty good!): 

    I am practicing for writing but I don't know my writing is correct or incorrect. Sometime I write something but I think that its means is difficult for understanding by others. If any person like have practice same me can write for me and correction my letter my email is sgdorna@yahoo.com

    4) Finally there are some word form problems. You sometimes use verbs where nouns are needed. Try not to translate from your own language.

     I am practicing for writing but I don't know if my writing is correct or incorrect. Sometimes I write something but I think that its meaning is difficult for understanding by others. If any person wants to practice and can  correct my letter, my email is sgdorna@yahoo.com. 

    Keep writing! Practice makes perfect.

  • Using a Comma in a sentence.It is really a very common mistake. Thanks for this post. I want to improve myself.This post will help me a lot to go ahead. A good teacher can help  a student to go his/her destination.Wish you all the best.

  • Thank you so much, dear Tara. That was a very useful, precise answer to my question.


    Have all the best


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