The comma rules are many and they are complicated. That’s why the comma teases. Many people naturally want the little annoying sign of where pepper is growing? There is hardly a more mischievous element in the language than the comma. You understand it well!
If you do not know the comma rules, you are guaranteed 20-30 comma errors per day. page. That’s why we’ve written about 8 comma hacks that will reduce the number of comma errors by 80%.
Comma is our guilty pleasure
At Task Correction we like the comma a lot. It is a fine little character with a value that far exceeds the character’s modest stature. Without commas, the language would crash – like a mortar without mortar.
In English, the comma is subject to a number of rules for how it should be placed. If you know the rules, you can put commas. It is not up to the writer’s day form or well-being where the comma is placed. It determines the rules.
The new comma or grammatical comma?
The new comma is not a new comma, because all the old comma rules still apply. There is simply a freedom of choice over a single rule. It is optional if you want to put a comma, that is, a comma in front of accompanyings.
However, it is only at the Language Board that one exercises the freedom of choice. All journalists, writers, writers, academics, ordinary people and other good people put a comma, ie a grammatical comma, which follows the traditional comma rules.
At Task Correction we also use grammatical commas. Everyone else does, so it would be stupid otherwise.
8 comma rules 80% fewer comma errors
Here you get the eight rules that will bring the number of comma errors in your text down to an absolutely reasonable level. You don’t become a comma shark overnight and you don’t have to learn all the rules at once.
When writing a new text, incorporate 1-2 new rules. Then you are already in the goal of 4-5 texts.
Comma Rule 1 – Get ahead of ‘at’
Requirements for linguistic knowledge: Knowledge of verbs
The first comma rule is simple and easy to remember, and it can all be found out if you know what a verb is.
The rule is that you always have to put a comma in front of the word ‘at’, unless a verb phrase follows the word.
Gustav said he was hungry.
It is strange, then, that you did not remember that it was your turn.
Iben had a hard time getting to know the letters.
If you do not know that it takes hard training to win, you lose.
Comma Rule 2 – Get ahead of ‘men’
Linguistic requirements: None
This comma rule is also extremely easy to use in practice. Always put a comma in front of the ‘but’ period.
It’s sad, but true.
The price of diesel is rising, but not as much as the price of gasoline.
There’s just nothing to discuss here. Always come before ‘but’.
Comma Rule 3 – Get ahead of ‘as’ and ‘there’
Linguistic requirements: None
This comma rule is pure win-win. A lot of commas are placed correctly and the rule applies in almost all cases.
The word ‘as’ must be preceded if the word can be replaced with ‘there’. The same goes the other way around. The word ‘there’ must be preceded if it can be replaced by ‘as’.
Used cars that are more than 4 years old must appear every two years.
It is not the cars’ CO2 emissions that are / are the biggest climate problem.
But remember that it is only in cases where ‘there’ and ‘which’ can be interchanged. That is not always the case.
She is beautiful as a rose.
You can’t say:
She is beautiful there a rose.
Comma Rule 4 – Get in the list
Requirements for linguistic knowledge: Distinguish a listing from other elements of the language
In recordings, the rule is that there should be a comma between the words in the record:
The Queen visited both Viborg, Randers and Aarhus.
Both the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom and the utility room had to be cleaned.
The beautiful, idyllic landscape made a great impression on the guests.
The undressing basin replaces the word ‘and’. If you write it in notes, the language becomes heavy and inelegant:
There are many cows and horses and pigs and sheep in the farm.
It is not at all. Replace ‘and’ with commas – almost the last. You never separate the last two parts in a comma-separated list:
During the holidays we need to enjoy ourselves, travel and relax.
The enumeration basin also applies to enumerations consisting of multi-word compounds:
If you are going home, go down the road, down the path and to the right at the grocery store.
Comma Rule 5 – Get ahead of imperatives
Requirements for linguistic knowledge: Knowledge of the verb inflection
This rule sounds more complicated than it is. An imperative is a verb that is inflected in the adverb: ‘eat’, ‘remember’, ‘beat’, ‘break’ and so on. You put a comma before the imperative:
Go into your room, do your homework, and sleep by noon. 11th
If there is a sideways hyphen – ‘and’ or ‘or’ – in front of the imperative, put the hyphen:
Go into your room and do your homework.
So you always have to be on guard when it is the short form of a verb that is at stake. Then put a comma in front.
Comma Rule 6 – Get ahead of hv words
Linguistic requirements: None
This rule is almost too easy. But hold on, it makes a difference. Put commas in front of the hv words and get 5-10 fewer comma errors per page completely free.
Emma, what are we going to have tonight?
You don’t know who you’re talking to.
Can you explain to me why the price has risen so dramatically.
But no rose without thorns. Be careful, because the rule for comma before hv words does not apply in all cases:
It is important to remember the order in which the boxes should be placed
It’s not going to happen no matter what you do.
Management has not decided on what basis the work should be continued.
In the examples here, the comma must be preceded by the word that precedes the hv word. This is because the word in front cannot be separated semantically, that is, meaningfully, from the hv word: ‘in which’, ‘in whatever’ and ‘on which’ are interconnected and therefore should not be separated by a comma.
If in doubt, you can always try to move theorem # 2 with the hv word ahead of theorem 1:
The order in which the boxes should be placed is important to remember.
Whatever you do, it’s not going to happen.
On what basis the work is to be continued, management has not decided.
It becomes clear here that the words in ‘in which’, ‘whatever’ and ‘on which’ belong together, for if you separate them, you are left with nonsense:
Whatever you do, it’s not going to happen regardless.
As a guide, however, you are well-aided if you put a comma in front of the hv words. The errors that the rule causes are few compared to the errors that the rule corrects.
Comma Rule 7 – Get around additions
Requirements for linguistic knowledge: Some syntactic understanding
An addition is supplementary information added to a sentence.
You can, to put it mildly, not expect to get your money back.
The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, is located in Zealand.
There will, I remember correctly, be the opportunity to order breakfast.
The offer applies to all current subscribers as well as to future ones.
These are often clarifying or explanatory additions. The central message lies in the main sentence and therefore the addition can be removed without the sentence being destroyed. You enclose additions with a comma, just to indicate that the information is not crucial.
An addition may also have a questioning, appealing or exclamatory nature and be preceded or subordinated in the sentence:
You’re on the rules, right?
Anna, now you have to listen
Off, it hurt.
Comma Rule 8 – Come before and after all sentences
Requirements for linguistic knowledge: Knowledge of the basic and the statements
Now comes the MAIN RULE: Come before and after all sentences. If you master this rule, you have NO comma problems at all. All (almost) the other rules are children of this rule.
In all its simplicity and clarity it is almost absolutely beautiful. That is why we at Task Correction are keen on the comma.
The essence of the grammatical comma is that the sentence as a grammatical unit is enclosed in commas (unless the sentence is understood). And this applies regardless of the combination and order of the sentences:
Main sentence, main sentence
Main phrase, phrase
Theorem, theorem, theorem, theorem.
Let’s try to explain it.
All sentences are complete sentences. A statement can consist of one or more sentences:
August buys a car.
 August buys a car,  because he is tired of cycling.
Both sentences are complete sentences, but the last sentence consists of two sentences: one sentence  and one sentence .
The key phrase, ‘August buys a car’, is the essential one. It can stand alone. A statement is, as the name suggests, less significant. It can be avoided – or put it another way: It cannot stand alone.
Anyway, there are two sentences in play. They must be separated by a comma, basta!
If it is difficult to know the difference between a main sentence and a sentence, the non-test can be used. Enter the word ‘not’ in the sentence where it naturally belongs in the syntax.
August does not buy a car because he is not tired of cycling.
In the first sentence, ‘not’ is placed after the verb (finit verbal), ie after the word ‘buyer’.
In the second sentence it is placed in front, that is, in front of the word ‘is’.
It is therefore a main phrase if ‘not’ is placed after the statement, and a statement if ‘not’ is placed before the statement.
But the key is that there must be commas before and after all sentences, including sentences:
I’ll call the police if you don’t go now.
If you don’t go now, I’ll call the police.
I’ll call the cops if you don’t go now and then it’ll be the worst for yourself.
And the rule for commas before and after sentences also applies to more complex sentence structures.
The study, which [not] was done in collaboration with the University of Southern Denmark, shows that the emission of pesticides [has not] increased by 13%.
The rule, of course, also applies to statements that consist of two or more main sentences:
The train departed on time, but it was still too late.
The minister steps up to the pulpit and the reporters immediately overpower her with questions.
Do you want milk or would you rather have water?
In all three examples, the sentences are complete. That is, they contain both a root and a statement. In other cases, the root can be implied.
The minister went to the pulpit and was immediately overwhelmed with questions.
When the root, that is, the ‘ministry’, is implied, there is no comma. Commas must be set if both sentences are complete:
The minister went to the pulpit and she was immediately overwhelmed with questions.
Piece of cake … or a big mouthful !!!
Those were the rules – surely a big mouthful? Therefore, we would recommend that you do not yawn more than you can swallow. Incorporate a few rules at a time and build some routine using them. As they sit in the closet, one takes a few more rules and then still.
Comma rules 1-7 are not difficult to work with, and you get very far with the commutation if you just follow the rules.
Comma gel 8 requires a little more. One must master elementary sentence analysis and have some language understanding. But if you first check the sentences and their delimitation, you master the comma like few others.
Give it a try. It’s mega fat when you can.
If you can’t make it with a comma yourself, submit your text for proof. At Task Correction, we would like to put a professional reviewer to clean your text for comma errors and all other errors.
Read more about proofreading of thesis, PhD thesis, bachelor, books, manuscripts, websites and more. Of course, we also like to give English texts a significant linguistic boost.
What can we help you with?
Feel free to write to us through the form below. You can ask for a good quote on proof, order free trial proof, book proof or ask us a few questions.
All inquiries and material sent are treated confidentially.