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Commas to Mark Clauses

 

Commas ( ) are used to mark clauses in complex sentences when the subordinate clause comes BEFORE the main clause.

 

Complex Sentence (NO COMMA NEEDED!)

 

Maria went inside the house while it rained heavily.

 

          MAIN CLAUSE         SUBORDINATING CLAUSE      SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTION

 

Here a comma is NOT NEEDED because the main clause comes BEFORE the subordinate clause.

 

Complex Sentence (COMMA IS NEEDED!)

 

While it rained heavily, Maria went inside the house.

 

     MAIN CLAUSE        SUBORDINATING CLAUSE     SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTION

 

This time the subordinate clause appears BEFORE the main clause. Therefore, a comma is needed between the clauses. 

Your Turn

Read the complex sentences below.                                                                                                          Decide whether they need a comma or not and explain why.

 

Comma or not to mark the clauses?

 

Before I go to bed I brush my teeth.

 

Hannah went to the shop after she had finished school.

 

The Roman Army occupied Britain for many centuries until Rome came under attack.

 

Until I have finished my homework I am not allowed to play a game.

 

After Miss Hall had finished marking her books she went and made a cup of tea.

 

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