23 Jan 2014

When should you not use a comma: correcting a run-on sentence

Hi there!
comma rules

A couple of days ago I published an entry about rules for using commas. Today we're going to focus on the opposite: when should you not use a comma! More specifically, we're going to focus on run on sentences, which appear over and over again in your compositions. (You have some practice at the end of the entry).

A run on sentence (or run together sentence) is composed of two separate sentences punctuated as if they were only one. Normally, run-on sentences happen because you have in mind two closely related ideas and write them down quickly, with only a comma in between. For example,

Everyone felt happy, it was the first warm day of the year.
Mike forgot the matches, I forgot the salt.
She likes quiz programs, he likes Westerns.

Since you are concentrating on the meaning, you do not stop to notice that you have written two complete sentences which must be appropriately separated...!


The second sentence of a run-together often begins with one of the following words: then, there, now, he, she, it, we, they. When you spot one of these "warning signals" in the middle of a sentence, check it carefully. There is a good chance that it is a run-together!!

First she told us how to get there, then she drew a map.
Jack didn't lie, he just exaggerated.
Don't wear the orange coat, it clashes with your dress.


There is more than one way to correct a run-together sentence. You decide which one to use!

1. Divide the run-together using a full stop:

First she told us how to get there, then she drew a map.
First she told us how to get there. Then, she drew a map.

2. Use a semicolon (;) instead of a comma:

We had to leave Fluffy at home, Grandma doesn't like cats.
We had to leave Fluffy at home; Grandma doesn't like cats.

3. Insert a connector like and, but or because after the comma, depending on how the sentences are related:

The living-room is beige, the bedroom is green.
The living is beige, and the bedroom is green.

Last summer I did nothing, this summer I'm going to camp.
Last summer I did nothing, but this summer I'm going to camp.

Ben wore his sunglasses to school, his regular glasses were broken.
Ben wore his sunglasses to school, because his regular glasses were broken.


Now it's time for you to practice! Click to take a quiz on run-on sentences!


21 Jan 2014

8 rules for using commas

comma rules
We all know that punctuation is not easy, and we very often have trouble when writing our compositions. Today we're going to focus on 8 rules for using commas that I hope will help you!

Read the rules and the examples below carefully, and check them again when you write your next composition. If you do this regularly, little by little these rules will become automatic and you won't need to look back at them! :)

(Adapted from
RULE #1:

Use commas to separate words or phrases in a series of three or more.

I need to pick up bananas, tuna, bread, and ice cream from the grocery store today.

RULE #2:

Use a comma to separate independent clauses when they are joined by and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet. You do not need to use a comma if both independent clauses are short.

We agreed to come with Sarah, but we told her that we would need to leave early.

RULE #3:

Use commas when the relative clause is non-defining, that is, when it gives extra, unnecessary information.

Mr. Perryman, who enjoys playing golf, decided to retire in Florida.
The boy who lives next door to us is in the fourth grade.

RULE #4:

Use commas after introductory phrases and clauses that come before the main clause. If the introductory phrase has less than three words, the comma is optional.

When the clock struck midnight, the carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

After you leave school, make sure to pick up the mail.
Next Saturday we will be getting married.

RULE #5:

Use commas before and after "interrupting words" such as however and therefore.

I would, therefore, like to continue this conversation at another time.

RULE #6:

Use a comma after introductory adverbs.

Fortunately, Samir had remembered to back up his files.

Unsurprisingly, Raul passed the class with flying colours.

RULE #7:

Use commas when directly addressing a person (vocative).

Have you, Millie, considered going to college?

What do you think that means, Doctor?

RULE #8:

Use a comma before question tags.

You're a senior in college, aren't you?

I hope you have found this entry useful! Now make sure you also check the entry When should you not use a comma: correcting a run-on sentence. Little by little we'll become punctuation experts! :)

16 Jan 2014

Linguistic and Cultural Immersion in England

Are you interested in spending a long weekend with a family in England?

Well, now's your chance! The Official Language School "Roquetas de Mar" is going to organise an immersion stay for its students from the 1st May till the 4th May.

You have further information in the poster below!

Linguistic and Cultural Immersion in England by ana_uk877884

7 Jan 2014

New Year's Resolutions: setting real and feasible objectives!

Now that we're starting a new year, and a new term, it's time to think of our New Year's Resolutions!!

One of the best ways -if not the only one- of achieving a long-term goal (getting fit, losing weight, taking up a hobby, learning a new language, etc.) is to divide it into short, real and feasible objectives.  

You can apply this to any area of your life, but here I give you a few examples to learn English. Take the ones that work for you, add new ones, and design a list of the things you intend to do with/in English every week.

  • Learn 10 new English words or phrases every day, Mondays to Fridays (repeat on Saturdays, relax on Sundays)
  • Unlearn one typical mistake before the next test/composition
  • Study 15 minutes every day
  • Read the lyrics of an English song every week and try to understand its main content
  • Read and try to understand one short English text every week
Stick to your plan, and you'll see incredible results in a few months. And with very little effort. Take my word :)

Ps: Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments below!
Pss: What other New Year's Resolutions do you have??