Curing Two Comma Conundrums

[Instructors: Downloadable Word documents of this exercise appear at the end of this post.]

Two of the most common student punctuation faults involve overuse or misuse of commas.

Comma Fault 1: Comma Splice With however:

Faulty:          Mike got an interview, however, he didn’t get the job.

Correct:       Mike got an interview; however, he didn’t get the job.

Rationale:    When used as a conjunctive adverb, however requires a semicolon, not a comma.

Comma Fault 2: Unnecessary Comma With Coordinating Conjunction

Faulty:           Mike prepared for the interview, and thought he had done well.

Correct:        Mike prepared for the interview and thought he had done well.

Rationale:     Although commas are used when coordinating conjunctions (such as and, but, or) join two independent clauses, they are NOT appropriate unless the conjunctions actually join two clauses. If the second part of a sentence following and, but, or could not function as a separate sentence, no comma should precede the conjunction.

 In the following sentences, add appropriate commas or semicolons and remove inappropriate commas. Mark “C” if the sentence is correct. Be prepared to justify your choices.

  1. Frito-Lay wants to sell healthier foods, and intends to use no artificial ingredients in its 60 snack varieties.
  1. The switchover to natural ingredients coincides with a push by PepsiCo into healthier products, and a move away from unhealthy ingredients in its biggest sellers such as soda and potato chips.
  1. Products with bold flavors are harder to retool, and are marketed to teens, and other consumers who might be turned off if told that the chips were all natural.
  1. Many customers say they want to lose weight and eat better however it’s not clear that healthy snacks sell as well as junk food.
  1. All-natural products represent only about a fifth of the $15 billion U.S. savory snack market but such sales grew an average of 14 percent over the past two years.
  1. The company said that natural substitutes cost as much as 35 percent more than artificial flavors but declined to say whether the higher costs would affect its snack prices.
  1. One way to reduce sodium in flavored chips is to cut salt crystals differently, and keep them closer to the surface.
  1. In recent years Frito-Lay eliminated trans fats, and reduced saturated fats in most of its snack varieties.
  1. Many Americans don’t believe that potato chips are actually made from potatoes, however, potato chips have been made from potatoes for decades.
  1. The company ramped up its use of natural seasonings such as molasses, and tested the new flavors on 120 to 1,500 consumers at a time.
  1. The company ramped up its use of natural seasonings such as molasses, and it tested the new flavors on 120 to 1,500 consumers at a time.
  1. A PepsiCo executive said that he wouldn’t tell his children to eat all-natural chips for breakfast, however, he does think that it’s a sensible snack that is better than most available treats.
  1. The company’s flavor kitchen opened in 2009, and resembles a high-end residential kitchen.
  1. Critics complain that the revamped chips are still loaded with fat, or have too much salt.
  1. PepsiCo’s push to double sales of its healthier products is questioned by some insiders, and by some investors.

Key

  1. Delete comma preceding coordinating conjunction and. It does not join two clauses.
  2. Delete comma preceding and. It does not join two clauses.
  3. Delete both commas. They do not join two clauses.
  4. lose weight and eat better; however, it’s not clear . . . .

The conjunctive adverb however joins two clauses and requires a semicolon.

  1. Insert comma before but because it joins two independent clauses.
  2. C – No comma is necessary because but does not join two independent clauses.
  3. No comma is necessary in this simple sentence.
  4. Delete comma preceding and. It does not join two clauses.
  5. made from potatoes; however, potato chips . . . .

      The conjunctive adverb however joins two clauses and requires a semicolon.

  1. Delete the comma preceding and. It does not join two clauses.
  2. Tricky! This is the same sentence, but notice that it has a subject following and. In this case and joins two independent clauses and a comma is required.
  3. chips for breakfast; however, he does . . . .

     The conjunctive adverb however joins two clauses and requires a semicolon.

  1. Delete comma preceding and. It does not join two clauses.
  2. Delete comma preceding or. It does not join two clauses.
  3. Delete comma preceding and. It does not join two clauses

Comma Conundrum Exercise

CommaConundrumKey

 

 

 

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