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The Comma

The fundamental rule to using the comma is to…

Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses.

When a coordinating conjunction connects two or more independent clauses—word groups that could stand alone as separate sentences—a comma must precede it.  There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English: and, but, or, not, for, so, and yet.

Ex. Nearly everyone has heard of love at first sight, but I fell in love at first dance.

A comma tells readers that one independent clause has come to a close and that another is about to begin.

EXCEPTION:  If the two independent clauses are short and there is no danger of misreading, the comma may be omitted.

Ex. The plan took off and we were on our way.

CAUTION: As a rule, do not use a comma to separate coordinate word groups that are not independent clauses.

Ex. A good money manager controls expenses X and invests surplus dollars to meet future needs.

The word group following and is an independent clause; it is in the second half of a compound predicate (what the subject is, does, seems, or has done to it).

Sources: The Bedford Handbook, The CUNY WriteSite (www.writesite.cuny.edu/grammar)

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Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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