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Identifying Comma Rules Quiz

Comma Rules

Independent clause rule: 1) a comma separates two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (i.e., two "sentences" joined by words such as and, but, or or); 2) a comma separates a word, phrase, or dependent clause introduction from the following independent clause; 3) a comma separates an independent clause from a concluding word, phrase, or dependent clause (but a comma is often not used if the sentence concludes with a restrictive dependent clause preceded by an independent clause)

Series rule: commas separate items in a series (for example, three words, phrases, or clauses)

Non-essential information rule: two commas separate specific kinds of parenthetical information that is not considered essential to the sentence's meaning. 1) relative clauses beginning with who, which, or that giving additional (non-essential) information; 2) nouns/noun phrases that name or specify a preceding noun/noun phrase and are grammatically parallel to it (appositives); 3) small words/phrases that interrupt sentence flow and emphasize or qualify but do not give important information

Conventional uses: formal uses; for example, commas may separate items in numbers, dates, addresses, titles, and locations (e.g., cities from provinces)

Coordinate adjectives: Commas separate two adjectives preceding a noun if they are "equal," that is, if they separately modify the noun (to test, try changing their order and see if they still make sense)

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Question: In the following sentences, identify the rule (on the right) that governs how each comma (on the left) is used. In some cases, more than one comma will match with the same rule. The comma rules are summarized above for your reference (options given in the quiz are set in boldface).

1. Although our export of raw materials is declining with time, the export of manufactured goods is increasing, and our trade continues to grow.

...time, the...

...increasing, and...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

Answer


2. Caffeine, a psychoactive drug with stimulating effects, is unregulated and completely legal, the Anti-Caffeine League points out.

Caffeine, a...

...effects, is...

...legal, the...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


3. To relieve stress, explore the world, and have fun, students should take a break after high school, a period reserved for anything but schoolwork.

...stress, explore...

...fun, students...

...school, a...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


4. In 2003, Barry Bonds's personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was indicted on counts of supplying athletes with anabolic steroids.

...2003, Barry...

...trainer, Greg...

...Anderson, was...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


5. Leslie Hornby, known worldwide as "Twiggy," became a supermodel overnight and was identified by her skinny, 90-pound body.

...Hornby, known...

..."Twiggy", became . . .

...skinny, 90-pound...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


6. Currently ranked fourth behind heart disease, stroke, and respiratory infections, AIDS is set to become number three, say researchers in a new report in the Public Library of Science's Medicine Journal.

...disease, stroke...

...infections, AIDS...

...3, say...

independent clause

non-essential information

series

appositive

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


7. Jeff Deffenbacher, PhD, a specialist in anger management, thinks that some people have no patience for everyday annoyances, which Deffenbacher calls a "low tolerance for frustration."

...Deffenbacher, PhD, a...

...PhD, a specialist in anger management, thinks...

...annoyances, which...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


8.In 1999, researchers studying students in a school in Harlem, Georgia, found that those who studied music, especially the piano, scored higher in mathematical ability than non-musical students.

...1999, researchers...

...Harlem, Georgia, found...

...music, especially the piano, scored...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


9. Clueless, a 1995 movie, is loosely based on a Jane Austen novel, and like Austen's character, Emma, the heroine of Clueless, Cher, is less superficial than she first appears.

...Clueless, a 1995 movie, is...

...novel, and...

...character, Emma, the....

...Clueless, Cher, is...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


10. Charles Colson, a Christianity Today columnist, has praised the Harry Potter series, saying its magic serves as a framework for the story, a technique used by such writers as Shakespeare, Tolkien, and Chrétien de Troyes, a twelfth-century French poet.

....Colson, a Christianity Today columnist, has...

...series, saying...

...Shakespeare, Tolkien...

...Troyes, a...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


11. On July 19, 2005, the same-sex marriage law in Canada was passed, making Canada the third country to recognize same-sex marriages, but many Christians remained opposed to this law.

...19, 2005, the...

...passed, making...

...marriages, but ..

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

Answer


12. Small amounts of cocaine may cause hyperactivity, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and increased sexual interest, whereas large amounts, such as more than 100 milligrams, can cause violent, unpredictable behaviour.

...hyperactivity, elevated...

...interest, whereas...

...amounts, such as...

...violent, unpredictable...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


13. Similar to anabolic steroids, blood doping, which is a form of boosting blood, can enhance an athlete's performance, but it is much harder to detect than steroids.

...steroids, blood...

...doping, which...

...performance, but...

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

coordinate adjectives

Answer


14. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre, which is approximately the length of ten atoms side by side, and it is within these tiny dimensions that nanotechnology attempts to control, predict, and visualize material interactions.

...metre, which...

...side, and it...

...predict, and visualize...

 

 

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer


15. To address bullying, we need to understand the nature of the problem, the ways it differs for boys and girls, the relevant risk factors, such as individual or environmental indicators that may lead to bullying, and, lastly, the factors that buffer the impact of risk.

...bullying, we...

...problem, the...

...factors, such as...

...bullying, and...

...and, lastly, the...

independent clause

non-essential information

series

conventional use

coordinate adjectives

Answer