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1.—THE COMMA (,)

The comma is used to mark the shortest pause of time.

(1) In a simple sentence it may be used or be omitted.


Know that the slender shrub which is seen to bend, conquers when it yields.

Truth is afoot, nothing can impede it.

The same principle leads us to neglect a man of merit that induces us to admire a fool. (2) In a compound sentence—that is, one in which the direct sequence of thought is interrupted by repetition or by the addition, as of verbs, nouns, or other parts of speech—the comma is used to separate the simple members.


Charity, like the sun, brightens every object it shines upon.

Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.

(3) It is used in separating several (more than two) words which are connected by conjunctions expressed or implied.


Man must have some fears, hopes, and cares for the coming morrow.

God has given us wit, and flavor, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumes, to enliven the days of man's pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marle."

Gordon met death as a brave, valiant, and noble man. (4) It is not used to separate two words that are connected by a conjunction.

EXAMPLE: Mirth is short and transient, cheerfulness fixed and permanent.

(5) It may or may not be used to separate a series of words in pairs that are connected by conjunctions.


This sound brought out from their lurkings places a crew of vagabond boys and vagabond dogs, ... and boy and dog, and hostler and Boots, all slunk back again to their holes.

In schoolroom and college class, in the field
and afloat, discipline maintains order.

East and West and South and North
The Messengers ride fast.

(6) It is used to set off nouns and pronouns in the absolute, and words put in apposition.


The prisoner, his sentence being pronounced,
was removed.

He who stands before thee is Paul, the

The transaction closed, we separated.

(7) It is used to set off adjectives or participial adjectives and their adjuncts, especially if they affect the significance of a dependent clause.

EXAMPLE: Man, living, feeling man, is the easy prey of the powerful present.

(8) It is used to introduce a single short quotation. If, however, more than one quotation is cited, a colon should be used instead.

(9) It is used in the place of a verb omitted or of a word understood.

(10) It is used before and after the infinitive mode when the infinitive follows a verb from which it should be set off, or when it is dependent on a thing understood or remote.

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His aim was, to foster the interests of the natives.

To continue, I will now show the consequence of my argument. (11) It is used also to set off an adverb or adverbial phrases when they cause a break in the construction of a simple sentence.


This curiosity of theirs, however, was attend.
ed with very serious effects.

And yet I knew that every wrong,
However old, however strong,
But waited God's avenging hour.

(12) It is used to set off prepositional phrases when they interrupt the sequence of a simple sentence, or when they are separated from words on which they are dependent.


American aristocracy is, to some extent, a matter of wealth.

By study, we may add to our store of knowl. edge that acquired by our ancestors. (13) It is used to set off a conjunction when it is divided from the main clause dependent on it or when it introduces an example.

EXAMPLE: The collision was inevitable, but, by timely assistance, the crew was saved.

(14) It is used occasionally to set off interjections. EXAMPLE:

Yet then from all my grief, O Lord,

Thy mercy set free. (15) It is used to set off a word which it is desired to emphasize. EXAMPLE:

Holy, Holy, Holy,

Lord God Almighty !

2.—THE SEMICOLON (;) The semicolon is used to indicate a separation in the relations of the thought in a compound sentence-a degree greater than that expressed by the comma.

(1) It is used to separate different statements; that is, the different clauses of a compound sentence which are already separated by commas.


We may live without poetry, music, and art;
We may live without conscience, and live

without heart;
We may live without friends; we may live

without books; But civilized man can not live without cooks. (2) It is used to separate two or more simple members of a sentence when these require a pause greater than that which a comma would mark.

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