Use a Comma:
Between independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet):
He has only one idea, and it is wrong. You can do things my way, or you can find another job.
To separate items in a series (three or more words, phrases, etc.):
French, Spanish, and Portuguese are romance languages. I.U., Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin are big ten schools.
To set off introductory expressions and dependent clauses at the beginning of a sentence:
Fortunately for him, the police did not see him run the red light.
When you feel like dancing, let Arthur Murray teach you dancing in a hurry.
To set off nonrestrictive elements in a sentence:
Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet, died at 39.
(2) parenthetical expressions
We should, I think, attend the party. I do not, however, think we should stay long.
(3) non-restrictive modifiers
The students, who have finished their work, are leaving early.
Do not use a comma with restrictive modifiers, words that are necessary to the meaning of a sentence:
The students who have finished their work may leave.
To separate coordinate adjectives:
He was a wild, wicked man.
Do not use a Comma:
Between independent clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction (comma splice):
I'm a lover, I'm not a fighter. I got up early this morning, I had a lot to do.
Between a subject and a verb:
A weekend in New York, would be a nice change.
Use a Semicolon:
Between independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction:
I agree with you; jogging is boring.
To separate items in a series that contains commas:
Dr. Quack, a psychiatrist; Mr. Wright, an architect; Professor Chomsky, a linguist; and Ms. Klein, a fashion designer, all attended the convention.
Use the Colon:
To introduce a formal list (a list is formal if it is preceded by "the following" or by a specific number):
I participate in the following sports: tennis, hockey, and badminton. I participate in three sports: tennis, hockey, and badminton.
To introduce a quotation:
Commodore Vanderbilt stated: "The public be damned!"
Do not use a Colon:
To introduce an informal list (one not preceded by "the following" or by a specific number):
I play tennis, hockey, and badminton.
After "for example" and "such as":
I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and jogging.
Use the Apostrophe:
To replace omitted letters in contractions: won't, he'll, doesn't, don't. Be sure that the apostrophe is placed where the omitted letter would be.
In possessive forms: Jim's ability; Charles' or Charles's routine; the children's circus.
*For Practice: See Exercises T through W.