Pausing To Punctuate: Joining Commas

punctuate

Joining commas, as the name suggests, are used to join two complete sentences. However, we cannot just plonk a comma between two complete sentences and consider them married. Consider the following sentences:

Labu is the cook. Labi is the chauffeur.

Trying to join these sentences by simply inserting a comma between them would be wrong (see following):

Labu is the cook, Labi is the chauffeur.

In order to join two complete sentences, the comma must be followed by and, or, while, but or yet. The example above would be correctly punctuated when written the following way:

Labu is the cook, and Labi is the chauffeur.

It is actually this simple. But always check to see if the sentences we are joining are complete sentences. If either one of them is not a complete sentence, consider using a colon instead.

Let’s take another example:

Hamid declared he was getting married. His friends thought he had lost his mind.

The proper way to join these sentences (if you wanted to) would be:

Hamid declared he was getting married, but his friends thought he had lost his mind.

Just to drive the point home, let’s take another example:

She has given her son everything he could ever want. He still doesn’t give her the respect she deserves.

To join these sentences with a comma, it could be done this way:

She has given her son everything he could ever want, yet he still doesn’t give her the respect she deserves.

To recap:

  1. A comma can be used to join two complete sentences.
  2. The comma must be followed by and, or, while, but or yet.

Hope this has helped.

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19 thoughts on “Pausing To Punctuate: Joining Commas

  1. Mat

    A comma, a pause, and the sentences get married?

    Some people would cross the Thai border, pause, and get married.

    Have you heard about the so very busy YB who just waited under a bridge along the NS Highway and got married, by the joining Thai Imam, on four wheels?

    Thanks for the morning smile, my friend. Darn, am using more commas now, all beacuse of you.

    Am off for roti canai and kari daging cincang. Will avoid the overnite one at the shop that my classmate and his omputeh wife got sakit perut some time back.

    Cheers.

    Dry Humour

    Maybe the pause (a long one at that) should come before they cross the Thai border, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Makna kata, sebagai mithalan: Yang Exciting tu tak responsible, manakala Yang Responsible tu tak exciting. Tu betul laa kan?

    Perfect imperfection kan hidup ni bro? Mak kata: kalau teleng, jangan tertangkup.

    Thatโ€™s what my ma taught me;)

    dak ah bau

    Not too sure how the rules appy yo Bahasa, mate. Sorry…

  3. Hmm, I distinctly remember that ‘and’ should not be used after a comma. Or am I imagining things again?

    halim

    It depends on the context in which the comma is used. In lists, no comma is needed before the and. However, when we are joining two complete sentences into one, the comma must precede the and.

  4. never mind the commas; what i want to know is how and when to use semi-colons, hyphens and colons, thank you!

    the-plague

    Very well, ma’am. I shall be getting to those squiggles soon.

  5. Salam bro MB,

    1. Is it necessary to plonk a comma in here?
    -Labu is the cook, and Labi is the chauffeur.

    can we just ignore the comma and just use this
    Labu is the cook and Labi is the chauffeur.?

    -budak baru belajar (balik)

    Eskapisminda

    Perhaps I could have given a better example: the context is, in retrospect, not immediately apparent.

    However, when you join two complete sentences, the comma must precede the and, or, while, but or yet.

    Take for example these two sentences.

    Sarah has joined the Girl Guides. Aminah will do so soon.

    To join these sentences, we’d have to come up with something like this:

    Sarah had joined the Girl Guides, and Aminah will do so soon.

    But sometimes is is more elegant not to join the sentences, though.

  6. Dear MB,

    The things I learnt from your goodself..precious. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Would you still care about comma and all if you were a jet fighter pilot? Heheh..

    Cheers

    Ida

    Good to know that I have been of use to someone else out there.

    You are right, ma’am. If I were a fighter pilot, I wouldn’t care if I didn’t even speak English!

  7. Mamak,let do translation pulak on Labu-Labi or Do-Re-Mi conversation.

    Mi: kau ada rokok?
    Boss: nak rokok ya!!
    Boss: na !!
    Mi :ada api !
    Boss: api!! nak !
    Mi: ini api nak bakau hidung kau!
    Mi :oh!! kau datang nak minta kerja ya?
    Ada surat?
    Mana ada coma,coma mamak semuanya staright! hehehe….

    Pak Tuo

    Tulah. Comma in Bahasa, I think, follow different rules.

  8. Some notes on the ‘and after comma’ thing. Found this in http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/020204WhenCommaBfAnd.htm

    ..situation occurs when “and” is being used to coordinate two independent clauses. An independent clause–also known as a main clause–is a group of words that has a subject and a verb and can stand alone as a sentence. In the following example, the independent clauses are in bold:

    “Miguel took piano lessons for sixteen years, and today he is an accomplished performer.”

    Notice in the next example that we do not use a comma before “and” because it does not join two independent clauses but merely joins two verbs:

    “Miguel took piano lessons for sixteen years and today is an accomplished performer.”

    Man, I forgot how confusing English lessons were for me in school.

    Halim

    I think I need a drink after this ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. See, told ya punctuation is one twisted, wicked soul.

    I just leave it to you to punctuate

    Elviza

    The wicked-er they are, they sexier they become!

    There is a something very satisfying about being able to tame a wild horse.

  10. …and btw, old joke. The English language is like nostalgia: the present tense and the past perfect…

    Halim

    Ha ha ha

    This is a good one, my friend!

  11. You can use a semi-colon, too, I think. Hamid declared he was getting married; his friends thought he had lost his mind. (Does that seem correct to you?)

    QOTH

    You are absolutely right. This is the analogy I always use:

    When you want two marry two complete sentences, use a comma followed by and, or, but, yet or while. If you just want them to get engaged, use a semi-colon.

  12. Mat-san,

    Elviza`s requires a full stop after “punctuate” in the 2nd sentence…that`s about it, I guess,o`wise that 2-liner of hers is perfect,grammatically. Gdnc: She really hates grammar, doesn`t she?

    It`s like reciting the Koran..I`ve forgotten my
    ” `Idram Billaghu`nnah”, “Mat `Arif Bissukun” (sorry about the romanised version..definitely can be improved, methinks)and the rest of the punctuations which makes for proper intonation, but I think my recital`s still pretty ok.

    Cheers!

    Higashi-san

    Sometimes it isn’t a good idea to sweat the small stuff, right?

  13. To comma or not to comma.. uhmm.. your post has made me paused; and wonder.

    I love to pepper whatever I am writing with all these squiqqies – commas, semi-colon, hypen etc despite having The Economist Style Guide being thrown at me on a regular basis.

    Generally, I follow this rule of thumb: Read out each sentence after writing it. And place a comma wherever or whenever you want the reader to pause, reflect, or simply, take a deep breath visually

    Andrea

    Your method should get us out of a lot of trouble. I used to do the same. too.

    Then, one fateful day, I got a book that extolled the British usage punctuation. I read it cover-to-cover (over and over) and found myself in this wretched place ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Mat

    Reading Stephen Hawking’s Universe (lazy to put the inverted commas) got me back to your commas, dots and full stops (oblique stroke between dots and full stops? – having the and there gets me nearer the punch line).

    The book explains the existence of the billions and trillions of endless tiny dots in the universe that can sometimes be seen by the naked eye (must it be naked?). Sorry, there may not be a punch line there after all.

    Not being scientifically trained, the book got my small mind confused. Newton said gravity is a force that pulls something down. Now they say it’s a force that pushes the dots away.

    After writing about the comma pulling two sentences and getting married together, next you’ll be writing about the dash that pushes two phrases away and get divorced? U r gud at it, you devil Mat. Did you say you wanted to be a teacher?

    Cheers.

    Dry Humour

    Yes,sir! I did say I wanted to be a teacher (this was AFTER my dream to be a fighter pilot was dashed by having to wear spectacles)

    The dash that pushes two phrases away from each other? The em dash? They do not signify a divorce: a full stop does that. Instead em dashes signify the entry of an interloper, an interfering third-party. Em dashes mark strong interruptions.

    But of course they do sometimes result in a divorce ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And the stars move the way they do is NOT because of the pull of gravity;it the is the curvature in the fabric of space-time that does this – at least, this is what the special theory of relativity seems to say. But of course, like most things in my life, I could be mistaken here, too.

  15. I often find I want to join two complete sentences with a comma followed by “so”. Is that allowed?

    It was raining, so I put my raincoat on before I went out.

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