• anonymous
Travelling to Finland, I was surprised when the weather got abruptly colder. Is a comma necessary before the word when? It seems to me confusing that Dependent and independent clauses are sometimes separated with a comma and sometimes not.
  • Stacey Warren - Expert
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  • katieb
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  • cwrw238
not necessary
  • anonymous
would it be wrong if I put one there? And how comes that sometimes it is very much necessary, but there is no apparent regulation U can find. e.g It has been a long summer, when the first leaves fell.
  • jagatuba
"Traveling to Finland" would be considered an introductory element. Introductory elements can be set of with a comma, but it is not necessary. The only time an introductory element MUST be set off with a comma is if it causes confusion or hesitation in reading. So, "Travelling [sic] to Finland, I was surprised when the weather got abruptly colder." AND "Traveling to Finland I was surprised when the weather got abruptly colder." are both correct. By the way Traveling is spelled with one 'l'. In regard to dependent and independent clauses: You always use a comma with dependent clauses. BEFORE I CROSSED THE STREET, I looked both ways. When you are dealing with independent clauses, you can use a comma, but only with a coordinating conjunction. I looked both ways, AND I crossed the street. Otherwise you will separate independent clauses with a period, semicolon, or a connecting word. I love this book. It is riveting. I love this book; it is riveting. I love this book because it is riveting. Because it is riveting, I love this book. That uses a comma because I changed one of the independent clauses to a dependent cause by using a dependent marker word (because). You will also use comma to set off parenthetical elements. The Rim fire, WHICH IS STILL BURNING, has burned 201,000 acres. Note that parenthetical elements are preceded and followed by commas. Finally, use commas to separate elements in a list. I have RED, BLUE, GREEN, AND YELLOW jelly beans. The exception to the list rule is when the elements in the list contain commas. In such cases, you would use semicolons to separate the elements. I have traveled by train to PORTLAND, OR; FRESNO, CA; RENO, NV; and HOUSTON, TX. That should pretty much cover the most common uses of commas and when to use them.

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