Module 12, Punctuation: End Marks and Commas, Lesson 8:

Commas with Interruptions


Commas are used to set off elements that interrupt a sentence or that are not essential to a sentence.

Parenthetical and Transitional Expressions

Use commas around parenthetical and transitional expressions, including conjunctive adverbs and transitional phrases, that are in the middle or at the end of a sentence.

The contents of this chapter, from what I have seen, are a repetition of the last chapter.
I will, however, need to see your driver's license.
Celery, for example, contains fewer calories than what you burn eating and digesting it.

Certain transitional expressions do not always need a comma. If reading the sentence does not require a pause, no comma is used.

Perhaps we will visit the castle after all.

Direct Address

Use a comma to separate a noun of direct address from the rest of the sentence.

Rashad, are you feeling alright?
Are you, Nicholas, paying attention?

Interrogative Tags

Use a comma to separate ending interrogative tags from the rest of the sentence.

You did read the book, didn't you?

Sharp Contrasts

Use a comma or a pair of commas with elements expressing sharp contrast. These contrasts often begin with not, never, and unlike.

Make sure you buy whole milk, not fat-free milk, or the recipe will not work.
My father, unlike my mother, loves to watch scary movies.
Most skateboarders, but not all of them, like to take risks.

Practice What You've Learned

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One or more commas have been omitted from each of the following sentences. Insert a comma (or commas) by clicking the space(s) after the appropriate word(s).
Do, you, realize, Sally, that, summer, is, almost, here?
The, stormy, conditions, moreover, will, not, delay, our, trip.
You, did, remember, the, milk, didn't, you?
Mr., Jones, are, you, retiring, this, year?
However, it, is, better, to, be, safe, than, sorry.
The, grass, but, not, the, weeds, is, dying, in, this, drought.
The, decision, is, yours, John.
That, is, quite, possibly, the, most, amazing, invention, I've, ever, seen!
Your, grandmother, speaks, Russian, doesn't, she?
I, will, not, unfortunately, be, able, to, attend, your, party.