All about Comma Placement in the IELTS and PTE Context

All about Comma Placement in the IELTS and PTE Context.

Well, there are many available resources on the internet to learn about the use of a comma in a sentence. However, none explains the use of a comma in the IELTS or PTE context. This article focuses on those uses of a comma which are generally not that commonly discussed. This article will help you to avoid common errors in writing. 

Please note that I am not covering all types of uses of the comma here as we, generally, do not require to use them in the context of IELTS or PTE. 

1. Rules to use a comma in an adjective clause. 

An adjective clause usually gives some important or extra information about the noun it follows. It helps to form a complex sentence. A complex sentence is a sentence which basically has two pieces of information in which one piece of information depends upon the other information. 
There are certain rules to follow in this clause to ensure that the sentence formation is correct. 

Rule no 1. If the adjective clause gives some essential information or if it is a restrictive clause, then we should not use the comma in an adjective clause.

For example. 
  • The welfare policies which were declared by the governments ended up without being implemented. 
Here the adjective Clause gives essential information about the declarer of the policies, thus, it has to be put within the sentence without a comma. 

Rule no 2. If the adjective clause gives some extra information, then it needs to be placed within commas. 

For example.
  • The Gladiator, which is an action-packed movie, won an Oscar. 
Here the adjective clause gives extra information about the Gladiator movie. Hence, it needs to be placed within comma.

For more information on the above concepts, you may please check my article on the adjective clause.

 2. Rules to use a comma in an adverb clause. 

An adverb clause usually shows relations between the independent and dependent clause of a sentence. That means it is formed by combining one independent and one dependent clause. The adverb clause is also known as a subordinate clause. 

Examples of Adverb clauses:
  • When our team finished its year-end evaluation, we all took the next day off.
  • After we got come gas, we headed off to Omaha.
 The words like 'when' and 'after' are known as subordinating conjunctions. 

Rule no 1.  Whenever we begin our sentence with a subordinating conjunction, we put a comma after the completion of the dependent clause. However, if the subordinating conjunction comes in the middle of the sentence or the dependent sentence form the second part of a sentence, we do not use a comma.

Notice the use of the comma in the below examples:
  • After we got come gas, we headed off to Omaha.
  • We headed off to Omaha after we got some gas.
Rule no 2. The above-mentioned rule is not applicable to three subordinating conjunctions which are 'although', 'while' and 'whereas'. That means even if these words come within the sentence.

Although he sang very well, he did not receive any appreciation. 

He did not receive any appreciation, although he sang very well. 

 3. Rules to use a comma after transitional words.

In our IELTS or PTE writings, we often need to use linkers to connect different sentences and paragraphs to show the smooth progression or to develop/expand the ideas. 

The common linkers, connectors or transitional words are the following:
In conclusion
To conclude

Following rules can be summarized for using them in a sentence.

Rule no 1. Transitional words at the beginning of a sentence.
This is the most common use of these words. The rule is to use a comma without space after these words.

For example
  • Moreover, the government has launched additional health policies to save people from this disease. 
  • However, some people suggest that sports period should not be included in the school curriculum. 
Rule no 2. Transitional words within a sentence.
Sometimes, we use transitional words within a sentence. In that case, the transitional word shall be enclosed in commas. 

For example
  • These days many schools are providing free education, however, they charge for books and other items to fund their services. 

Rule no 3. Transitional word after a semi-colon in a sentence.
This combination of a semi-colon, if used correctly, can fetch you good scores for grammatical range and accuracy. The key to using this structure is making two independent sentences and then connecting them with a semi-colon and transitional words.

For example
  • These days many schools are providing free education; however, they charge for books and other items to fund their services. 
Note: after the semicolon, the next word should begin with a small letter. 

4. Rules to use comma in a compound sentence and compound-complex sentence. 

A compound sentence is formed when we join two independent sentences with a comma and conjunction.

The coordinating conjunctions which form compound sentences are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. To remember them use the acronym FANBOYS where F stands for 'for', A stands for 'and' and so on.

  • Icebergs in the Antarctic are flat and smooth, but those in the Arctic are rough.
  • I love Ice-cream, but I don't like soft drinks. 
Moving on to compound-complex sentence: it is a sentence that has one dependent clause and one or more independent clause. The rule is similar to the above-mentioned rule in a compound sentence formation that is to use a comma before the coordinating conjunction.

For example
  • Steve tried to complete the work, but he cannot complete it because he ran out of time. 
  • Youtube is enormously popular these days because it has content related to almost everything, but the ads in between the videos are extremely annoying. 
I hope you would have understood the proper use of the comma for your IELTS and PTE writing. Please note that the above-mentioned uses are not all the uses of the comma. You may please refer other grammar books for the basic information on the use of a comma in English writing. However, if you practice above-mentioned uses of the comma, you may not lose many points in grammar because all other uses of the comma are not that prominent in IELTS and PTE. 

Good Luck!



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