The Comma Part 6: An overview of when and how to use a comma
The Comma Part 6: An overview of when and how to use a comma
When and how to use commas? Are they just a breath or pause in a sentence or something a little more?
The primary purpose of punctuation is to ensure the clarity and readability of writing. Punctuation clarifies sentence structure, separating some words and grouping others. It adds meaning to written words and guides the understanding of readers as they move through sentences. Often people advise that commas are used as a «pause» or a «breath» in a sentence, but that’s not really all that helpful in providing technical rules or guidelines. And there are, in fact, some fairly technical rules and guidelines when it comes to using the comma usage.
How to use a comma
1. Use commas to separate words, phrases, and clauses in a series. When using a comma for a series of words, the last comma you use is known as the Oxford comma and can change the meaning or relationship of the last two items in the list.
ex: WORDS Boccaccio’s tales have encouraged plays, films, operas, and paintings.
PHRASES Alexander the Great established system of fortified metropolitan areas, reorganised the military, and built a fleet of warships.
CLAUSES In the Great Depression, millions lost their jobs, businesses failed, and charitable institutions closed their doors.
2. Use a comma between coordinate adjectives – that is, adjectives that separately modify the same noun.
ex: Critics praise the novel’s unaffected, unadorned style.
3. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, yet, or so) joining independent clauses in one sentence.
ex: The poem is ironic, for the poet’s meaning contrasts her words.
4. Use commas to set off a parenthetical comment, or an aside, if it is brief and closely related to the rest of the sentence.
ex: First year university, for example, is a very busy year.
5. Use commas to set off a non restrictive modifier – that is a descriptive word/phrase that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence, i.e. it could potentially be dropped without changing the main sentence.
ex: J K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, will offer a online reading tonight.
Fixing a comma splice
Sometimes, your instructor might point out that you’ve used a comma splice in your essay. So what is it and how can you resolve it? Here are some quick articles to show you how to fix it.
1. What is a comma splice?
2. Use a semi-colon or colon to fix a comma splice.
3. Use a coordinate conjunction.
4. Use a subordinate clause.
Whether you’re a student, an educator, a parent, or just a concerned private citizen, and wherever in the world you may be, due to the fact Black Lives Matter protests that began in the United States have unfurled and spread to various other parts of the world, you might have found yourself asking, «What can I do?» We had the same question. We have taken some time to think, reflect, and listen before offering some perspectives on how we feel we can help you help others.
While these events shine a light on systemic racism and white supremacy, right now we have no idea what tomorrow, next month, or next year will bring. What we do know is education has a big part to play. For us at Team EssayJack, the core of who we are and what we do as an educational company is definitely underpinned by equity and diversity concerns. Our platform was created to help people think and write critically about issues in an academically rigorous manner. Learning how to weigh arguments, write intelligently about issues, and engage politically with ideas that matter is crucial to what we do. And we feel this is certainly more important than ever in today’s world and at this point in time.
In that vein, we want to first, state clearly and unequivocally that our company is committed to eliminating racism. Our team, advisers, investors, and cofounders are a diverse team. Our policies and decision-making is collaborative. Our work environment is respectful and flexible. We have people from various parts of the world and religions as part of our team and always have. Having said that, we also recognise that we can always do better, and we strive to do better.
We can also offer our clients, partners, and customers some trusted resources for teaching, learning, and talking about racism with others. Racism is a touchy subject. Some people tend to feel embarrassed or defensive when confronted with the ways in which BIPOC lived experiences are tinged by colonial and white supremacist structures. Others can feel hurt when their lived experiences are ignored or belittled. More importantly, when we focus on race, we build walls between each other that can make it hard to connect.
Connection through the written word is our mandate. In line with this, here are some ways and resources to use to educate ourselves and people around us to think, write, and teach deeply about the issues confronting us today:
Thinking about our own privilege is a good way to start. This quick Buzzfeed quiz (sigh, yes we know: Buzzfeed?! But trust us, this is usually a good one) can help outline ways in which privilege can be overlooked.Educating yourself and others around you more by using this amazing collaborative working document with scaffolded anti-racist resources. Bookmark it and learn from it.Teaching about racism and diversity using this reliable anti-racist resources as a helpful place to start.
What is an argumentative essay? What makes a good argumentative essay? How can you get a good grade on your argumentative essay?
If you’re asking these questions, then you’ve come to the right place. Let us answer all your questions about argumentative essays for you!
What’s an Argumentative Essay?
The purpose of an argumentative essay is to establish a stance or position on an issue by providing reasons and supporting evidence.
A well written argumentative essay will:
Introduce a compelling topic and engage the reader;Explain and consider all sides of an issue fairly;Address any potential counter arguments to the writer’s perspective; andPersuade the reader to adopt or consider a new perspective.
What should a good argumentative essay have?
A clear thesis statement in the introduction.Logical reasoning and points which support the thesis statement.Relevant examples or evidence which support the points.
Step 1: Pick a topic and write a thesis statement
A thesis statement is a one or two sentence summary of the central message or main claim of your essay. A strong thesis statement is vital as it tells the reader what the essay is about so they can decide if they want to read it or not.
A strong thesis statement will usually state a claim, your stance on the claim, plus the main points that will support your stance within your selected topic. It will also serve as a guideline for you when you are writing the body points of the essay.
If you’re given the freedom to choose your topic for an argumentative essay, it’s best to follow your interests or passion. a good place to start would be to start thinking about things that affect you everyday or a subject that you have a strong opinion on. It’s a good place to start. But be careful, for most people’s opinions are not backed up by solid evidence. So once you think you’ve narrowed down on a topic or area of interest, begin your research and clarify the stance you will be taking.
Step 2: Research your ideas and organise your findings
If you’ve ever experienced writer’s block it’s most probably caused by one of two reasons. First, it’s because you’re staring at a blank screen and unsure how to start. The EssayJack app can help you past that with prompts, tips, and sentence starters. Second, it’s because you’re unsure of your thesis statement and supporting points because you’ve most probably not done enough research.
Planning for any essay is key, especially an argumentative essay because you’re presenting an argument that you need to defend with solid evidence. Your research should include all forms of reference sources and materials (books, journals, articles, blogs, documentaries) by credible sources and industry experts.
Keep the following in mind when researching:
Read broadly to ensure you have a good overview of the topic including the main debates that have occurred or are occurring, arguments and counter arguments, as well as the main experts in the area.Keep a open mind and attempt to view the issues from the perspective of different individuals and stakeholders. Acknowledging these views and addressing them in your essay will ensure that you have a good balanced essay.Keep an eye out for any unique angles that may not have been thoroughly explored yet.
Remember that with Google at your fingertips research might be easy to do but also that you can’t ever completely research a topic due to the sheer number of resources at your disposal online. We’d recommend to move on to the next step once you feel have enough material because you can always do further research if you need later on.
Step 3: Draft a structure and write your essay
This step involves outlining the content of your essay in a structure that creates a seamless flow for your argument but also for your reader. EssayJack is a good tool to use to create this outline and understand better what each section needs (try it for free here).
First Paragraph – Background and Thesis Statement
Your opening statement is where you attempt to grab the attention or ‘hook’ the reader. This acts as a smooth segue to your background and thesis statement where you later establish your side on the issue. You can start with a surprising statistic that is not commonly known within the field. You can get creative here but make sure you’re still following the norms of scholarly or academic writing. That means no personal anecdotes or inspirational quotes etc. Save those for your narrative essays.
Next, provide a background on your topic to prepare the readers for the rest of your essay. Engage the reader by answering the following questions:
Why is this issue important? What are the root causes of this problem?Who or what is affected?Are there any solutions available?What can or should be done about it?
For example, if the topic is gender inequality in the workplace, you can share statistics from research that exemplifies the difference in incomes of the average man and woman who perform the same role.
Body Paragraphs – Develop your Arguments and Provide Evidence
It’s best to dedicate one paragraph to each supporting point you have for your argument. So for a five paragraph essay, you will have three body paragraphs plus the remaining two will be introduction and conclusion.
All arguments or body paragraphs must always contain the following three parts:
Part 1: Claim
A claim is a statement you make to support your argument. It’s basically reason that proves why your thesis statement is true.
Applying sin tax to products based on the amount of sugar will directly reduce the excessive consumption of heavily sugary products amongst consumers.
Part 2: Evidence & Explanation
Every claim made must be supported by relevant evidence and explanation of how that evidence supports your claim. This is where you insert the findings of your research from credible sources
Example: Case study of where sin tax resulted in lower consumption.
The Measure D soda tax was approved by 76% of Berkeley voters on 4 November 2014, and took effect on 1 January 2015 due to the fact first such tax in the United States. The measure imposes a tax of one cent per ounce on the distributors of specified sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened iced teas. In August 2016, a UC Berkeley study showed a 21% drop in the drinking of soda and sugary beverages in low-income Berkeley neighbourhoods after a few months showing that the sin tax was lowering consumption of sugary drinks.
Part 3: Tie-back to thesis
This demonstrates that imposing a sin-tax on sugary drinks is one way to reduce the consumption of sugar based products.
This is certainly assuming that your thesis is about reducing consumption of sugary products and ways to do it.
Additional Paragraphs – Challenging Your Own Arguments & Reinforcing Your Claims
A good argumentative essay will also have paragraphs that address counter arguments. This demonstrates your knowledge of the topic and awareness of existing opposing arguments, which will impress most readers. However, if you are writing at university level, this will almost always be expected of you.
The success of these additional paragraphs will lie in how you refute these counter arguments and turn them around to strengthen your thesis statement and/or supporting points. It’s always useful to discuss these counter arguments with classmates or someone with an opposing view to understand how to break it down and counter it.
Conclusion – Summarising and Closing with Impact
The conclusion summarises your thesis statement and main arguments and tries to convince the reader that your argument is the most valid.
Here are some ideas on how to conclude your essay:
Include a call to action. Inspire and invoke the reader to agree with your argument. Tell them what they need to think, do, feel, or believe from this point on.Present hypotheticals. Illustrate the chain of events that will happen if the reader adopts your ideas. Use past or present real-life examples to ground these depictions to a grounded reality.Think «big picture.» If you are arguing for policy changes, what are the implications of adopting ( or not adopting) your ideas? How will they affect the reader ( or the relevant group of people)?
Once you are done with your conclusion, a good idea might be to your introduction to check out if you want to make any changes to it. While writing the essay, you may have picked up on or added points that you didn’t have before. You could have phrased your arguments in a compelling manner that you’d like to replicate in the introduction. This will undoubtedly improve the flow of your essay.
What’s next? Proof Read and Review Your Essay
Yup, the part that most dread after triumphantly finishing their essay, reading all of it! But proofread you must!
Here are a few aspects to pay attention to while you proofread:
Look out for any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes regardless of how minor fix them! They can derail the focus of the reader and undermine the intellectual integrity of your essay. Keep your audience in mind. In most cases it will be your teacher or professor. Make sure your language reflects this, keep it formal and academic no colloquialisms!Have you got enough evidence and explained it well? If not, you can always do a little more to strengthen any weaker arguments.
And you’re done! Yup, it’s a long process but one that’s well worth it if you want improve your critical thinking and problem solving skills while getting good essay grades! Good luck, and now have fun!