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Determine what comma rule each sentence(s) demonstrates.

1. The secret recipe for the super delicious drink I invented includes vodka, grapefruit juice, raspberries, a splash of rye, and ketchup.
2. Before leaving for his nightly crime spree, Simon checked to make sure he had a flashlight, a length of rope, gloves, a grappling hook, pliers, a skeleton key, a coat hanger, an energy bar, and a tube of Shimmering Pink lipstick.

A series

1. For dinner, the Girl Scouts ate steak, onions, and ice cream.

Serial comma

They live in a large, comfortable, well-designed house.

List adjectives of equal importance in a series.

1. The frisbee sailed silently through the air, bounced off the kitchen wall, and splashed down into my chicken soup.
2. My red, white, and blue rubber ducky is my favorite bath toy.
3. I came, I saw the uncut grass, and I ran back into the house.

A Series

They live in a large two-story country house.

Do not use commas to list adjectives in a series if the adjectives seem so closely related as to form a single unit.

1. I'm hungry, but I refuse to eat anything that has a face.
2. I can't take my eyes off you, yet my wife can't take her eyes off me.
3. At first I was pleased to have found your missing toupee, but now I regret it.

Comma before coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses.

1. First, I need to powde my earlobes.
2. After dinner, let's go to the Amazin' Amazon Mud Wrestling Matches.
3. To be honest, you are grotesquely overweight, and if you want a second opinion, you're ugly, too.

Commas to set off introductory elements.

1. Hermione Turlington, mother of seventeen children, has little time to pursue her career in population control.
2. The company, nevertheless, plans to introduce its packets of artificial nose hair.
3. My grandmother is, without a doubt, the chattiest knitter in the group.

When elements come in the middle or the end of a sentence and you hear a strong pause before and afterward, set them off with a comma.

1. The contestant who can balance a piano on her nose while imitating the mating call of the wild yak, will win first prize.

A restrictive clause is not set off by commas from the word it modifies.

The great general George S. Patton once said, "No, no- the war is this way, you idiots!"

Commas to set off complete quotations.

1. March 21, 1958, is a day that radically changed the world for a reason we can't seem to recall at this moment.
2. I can't believe that for our honeymoon you thought I'd want to go to Lynchburg, Tennessee, for it's nightlife.

Commas to set off the year from the day of the month, and state from the city.

1. Hemingway did not, like Fitzgerald, sell his should to Hollywood.
2. Whatever will be, will be.

Employ a comma whenever using one will prevent confusion.

The master beat the scholar, with a strap.

Commas to help communicate meaning.

I often blow my own horn, trumpet my achievements, and beat the drum for my career; it's my way of saying to the world, "Hey, I'm fit as a fiddle, and I don't fiddle around or play second fiddle to anyone!"

In compound sentences, use a semicolon to join closely related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction.

We dont wish to chime in too much and harp on this subject; nevertheless, we hope to tune your tin ear to the tenor of our language.

When the second clause is introduced by a conjunctive adverb, use a semicolon.

1. We, your keynote speakers, sing the praises of accurate punctuation to beat the band; but we don't work for a song, waltz in and teach you the cymbalism, and the waltz right out.
2. We, your unsung heroes, wouldn't want to imply that it's time for you to hop on the bandwagon, face the music, and sing a different tune; but we're not whistling Dixie when we say that it's time for you, Johny One-Note, to know your brass from your oboe.

Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses that already contain commas.

Although we have tried to explain in a tasteful, melodious manner the distinctions among introducing marks of punctuation, such as commas, colons and dashes; separating marks, such as commas, semicolons, and periods; and end-of-sentence marks, such as periods, question marks, and exclamation points, you probably still feel that this book is filled with too much sax and violins.

Use a semicolon as an extrapowerful comma between items in a series that already contain commas.

1. Many are intrigued by the undying mystery of the pilgrims' wardrobe.
2. Merriweather managed to knock over the entire pyramid of ladies' health aids.

If a plural noun that already ends in s needs to become possessive, just slap a single apostrophe on the end of that word.

1. Oh, right- and what hour isn't the children's hour?
2. Though he unfailingly appeared in public wearing a bandit's mask and hauling around a large sack of money, Mayor Crumpitt was, unfathomably, the people's choice.

To form the possessive of plural nouns that don't end in s, add an apostrophe s.

1. Len and Barry's ice cream business never really took off because all their products tasted like squid.
2. Trista and Trisha's schemes might have worked had they been identical twins, instead of the other kind.

If two or more people possess the same thing, you need only put the apostrophe after the last one of the two mentioned.

1. Fortunately, Len's and Barry's wives loved ice cream that tasted like seafood.
2. Larry's, Curley's, and Moe's main squeezes thought that the three brothers were just a bunch of stooges.

If two people own items individually, you must show your respect by giving them each an 's.

During the lean war years of '42 and '45, resources in the United States were so scarce that the government had to start rationing numbers.

The apostrophe helps people who are too lazy to write out four whole numbers in years.

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