Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dos and Don'ts When Using Commas in the IELTS Writing Exam

Words build up sentences, sentences creates a paragraph, and paragraphs compose a good essay. Essay writing is not an easy task knowing that you have to consider these essentials to your writing. Hence, getting familiar with the rules in sentence construction and grammar has to be practiced. In the International English Language Testing System examination or IELTS Exam, the writing examination will challenge the candidate’s know-how in using English in a written text. Aside from grammar, sentence construction, and vocabulary, the candidate also needs to be knowledgeable with the rules on punctuation.

Punctuation is one rule in the English language that most candidates overlook. Punctuations serve as guides to readers when to make a pause or a full stop at reading. Let us study a punctuation that can be very confusing when used in writing – the comma.

Commas (,) are generally used in a sentence to signify a pause in reading. Though it has a simple function in the sentences, rules on commas are helpful for any person writing an essay especially an IELTS writing task. Here are some rules to remember:

1. Use commas to separate a series in a sentence.

I eat ham eggs bread and banana for breakfast. When writing things in a series, it is best use commas to separate them. Writing them like the one above is incorrect.


I take a shower, cook breakfast, drink some tea, and read a newspaper in the morning before leaving the house.

The graph shows a decrease in the male population, a growth in the female population, and an increase in infant birth.

2. Use a comma when connecting two independent clauses with coordinating conjunctions.

Independent clauses are clauses that have a subject and a verb and a complete thought. Coordinating conjunctions are the following AND, BUT, OR and SO.


I met Joel during my birthday party, and she met Chris in a wedding.

The first graph shows an increase in the school’s enrolment, but the second graph focuses on the decrease of quality teachers.

3. Use commas when you start your sentences with time markers such as when, while, before and after.


When the data was collected, the researchers started the experiment.

Before the year 1998, the sales for the said product were high.

4. Use comma with nonessential clauses.

Nonessential clauses function as adjectives in the sentences.


Mr. Kim, who is wearing s black suit, is the company’s treasurer.

The 88 Bus, which goes to the Rocks Boulevard, never comes late.

Commas are important in writing sentences. Simple sentences become much better when added with details by using commas. Learn more and practice writing sentences with the different rules on comma.

Here are some useful infographics about commas:


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