The comma: a powerful punctuation mark, indeed! While the current SAT does not assess punctuation rules, the revised SAT, being administered for the first time in March 2016, will. The current SAT, of course, has a mandatory essay component, so it’s a good idea to review some basic rules of punctuation.
*Commas insert pauses to make sentences sound right.
This morning my teacher told me that I had earned an ‘A’ on the test. vs.
This morning, my teacher, told me, that I had, earned an ‘A’, on the test. vs.
This morning, my teacher told me that I had earned an ‘A’ on the test.
*Commas set off three or more items in a list.
My favorite colors are yellow, red, and orange.
**Grammar scholars have argued whether to use the serial comma:
My favorite colors are yellow, red, and orange. vs.
My favorite colors are yellow, red and orange.
Can you believe that grammar scholars argue?!
*Commas separate asides.
An aside is a clause that is related, but not essential, to the sentence.
These cupcakes, all of which are chocolate, need to be delivered to the party before the guests arrive.
*Commas separate independent clauses that begin with conjunctions like “and, but, so.”
A clause is independent if it can be read on its own.
I went to the grocery store, and I told the produce manager that she needs to increase the varieties of apples for sale.
*Commas link independent clauses and dependent clauses and phrases.
Independent clause: My favorite bookstore sells many different genres of literature.
Dependent clause: Such as science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction.
My favorite bookstore sells many different genres of literature, such as science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction.
*Dates use commas.
Victoria’s birthday is June 3, 2005.
*Numbers use commas.
George owns 1,004 books.
*A comma is used between multiple adjectives defining one noun if you can say “and” between them.
The spacious, comfortable backpack is perfect for school use.