The comma has always been one of the most confusing pieces of punctuation ever invented. A great quote by Oscar Wilde: "I spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out." Since we don't have that kind of time to ponder the perplexities of punctuation, we need to know our rules. Here are some good sites for commas:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_comma.html
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp

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Are the following underlined sections nonrestrictive/nonessential phrases (requiring commas around them) or restrictive/essential phrases (requiring no commas)? Or do you think that a comma is required only after the phrase? And if so, why? Looking for rules, please.

“I'm going to do that so when I ask you questions I'll know what I'm asking you.”

“Is it correct to say that other than the reports themselves you don't have any supporting documentation?”

Here’s a rule from Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition:
6.31
Restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases. A phrase that is restrictive, that is, essential to the meaning of the noun it belongs to, should not be set off by commas. A nonrestrictive phrase, however, should be enclosed in commas or, if at the end of a sentence, preceded by a comma. See also 5.29.

The woman wearing a red coat is my sister.
but
My sister, wearing a red coat, set off for the city.
She set off for the city, wearing a red coat.
Here's a comma question.

Example 1: They felt that it was dominated by special interest groups and that Washington had become detached from the American people.

Example 2: They felt that it was dominated by special interest groups, and that Washington had become detached from the American people.

To me, it looks like "they" felt two different things: domination by special interest groups AND Washington becoming detached.

So does a comma belong after the word "groups"? TIA to any and all responders.
You only put a comma before "and" or any other coordinating conjunction if what follows it is a complete subject with a subject and verb, aka an independent clause.

I highly recommend this site for punctuation:
http://www.grammarbook.com/english_rules.asp
Check out Rule 12:
Use a comma to separate two strong clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction--and, or, but, for, nor. You can omit the comma if the clauses are both short.
Examples: I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.


What follows the "and" in your sentence is not an independent clause. If the person had said "and they felt that...," then I'd definitely put a comma because it would be a clause now with a subject (they) and a verb (felt). Hope that helps.
Thanks, Marla. that helps a lot. So it is proper to use the comma with coordinating conunctions: and, or, but, nor, for.

What about the word "because"? There are some instances where I have seen a comma before the word "because." Can "because" be considered a conjunction? TIA! :)
Also, I wanted to say that after I looked through the link, I learned a few more tips. I did not know that commas are not used now with "Jr." and "Sr." when following a name. That is good info because it comes up all the time.

I noticed on this forum that there are some who do not place a comma after the word "Well" or "Yes" in these examples: "Well, that is right" or "Yes, I will."

In this day and age of texting -- something I have never done, by the way! LOL -- I wonder if punctuation will become extinct in some instances.

There is another industry forum I frequent when time allows, and I am sometimes taken aback at the spelling mistakes and/or typos, punctuation errors, et cetera. I know that we are all on the forum in the, quote/unquote, "relax mode," so to speak, and we shouldn't have to be careful of boo-boos when writing our posts. However, when I see how some folks write their posts, laced with errors, I do wonder if they know the difference.

I know I am capable of typos and mistakes in my posts, but on a transcription or court reporting forum, I do exert a little effort to be correct. I'm human and capable of error, but I try.

That said, the majority of posts written on THIS forum are definitely high quality. It is a pleasure to read them. ;)

Forgive me because I'm new to this site, and I'm not for sure if this is where I would post a question.  I have an odd question.  When listing things in a transcript, I always put commas between them.  My old grammer rule was to not put a comma before a conjunction like "and."  I'm going by a book called Bad Grammar Good Punctuation.  I see that they put a comma before a conjunction, and, I think_-- I'd have to check again -- they even put one after the last word in the list.  What are your thoughts on this?  I feel like I'm changing my ways all the time.  Thanks a bunch.  Let me know if I need to post this question somewhere else.

That's called a "serial comma," when you place a comma before the conjunction in a series.  It's a very acceptable way to punctuation and used to be the standard, though a lot of people are omitting it.  Personally, I always use the serial comma.

 

Something I've always questioned how I should punctuate:  

A.  No no no no no. 

I'm not consistent when I do this.  I either do:

 

A.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

or

A.  No, no, no, no, no.

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