Comma is by far the most wrongly used punctuation mark I've ever seen. It is way too overused. My English teacher is no different; his notes are really a mess. Anyways I've written this article so that everybody may learn the correct use of a comma. You might think it is worthless, but it is very important for formal writing. Use it properly and readers will thank you for it. And please forget what our teachers tell: NEVER USE A COMMA FOR THE SAKE OF BREATHING GAP FOR A READER.
These words should be gold plated and pasted in each and every writer's home:
COMMA IS NEVER USED TO JOIN TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES
There are 4 uses of commas. I'll describe each with examples here:
1) 1)Listing Comma: The name tells everything. This use of comma is for listing more than 2 things.
Example: He likes bananas, apples and watermelon.
It is necessary to note here that always put a space after comma it and not before it.
The example above is in British English. In American English we put a comma before "and". One thing is necessary to note here: If comma elaborates the correct meaning of the sentence then use it. See this example:
Example: His favorite books are kite runner, Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Here I used a comma before "and" because it clarifies the meaning of the sentence; the word "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is one.
2) 2)Joining Comma:It is the most common of all uses of a comma. It is also the easiest of all. Always use a comma before "and", "or", "while" and "but". Please note here that no exclamation mark should be put before ANY joining word besides these. This use doesn't contradict with the first one because there are only 2 items in the list and if your read the statement of the above kind again I have specifically mentioned that it is necessary for a list to be greater than 2 words for the application of the above comma.
1) He is teenager, but he still thinks like a kid.
2) I love his dress, and his hair.
3B3)Bracketing Comma: This use is a little bit difficult. It is used to add a minor interruption in the flow of sentence. I'll give you an example first; it will be easier to describe it then.
Example: His uncle, although a bit lazy, always prefers healthy food.
A bracketing comma is always written in a pair. Although it is only for minor interruption use it carefully. To check whether you are using it properly remove the middle part, and check whether the sentence still remains correct. If it still does then you are using it properly; otherwise it is incorrect. In some cases we only use a single comma instead of a pair:
Example: His country, England is still one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Here we can remove the first part. As it is the beginning, and we can't use a comma there so we only use one comma rather than a pair.
4) 4)Gapping Comma: It is used to omit a word which has already been used in the sentence; this helps in keeping the sentence from losing its essence.
Here in order to avoid the word "played" again we used a comma. This comma is used rarely so unless it is required it is better to just forget it. Otherwise the chances of mistake in this one are very high.
1) DON'T USE COMMA FOR JOINING TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES.
2) ALWAYS USE COMMA BEFORE "AND", "OR", "BUT" AND "WHILE".
3) DON'T USE ANYOTHER COMMA IF YOU CAN'T REMEMBER THE RULE. YOU'LL PROBABLY
4) DON'T USE COMMA FOR ANYTHING ELSE. IF YOU ARE THINKING OF EATING THEM IN BREAKFAST REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE GOING TO CAUSE A TROUBLE :p