IELTS Band 9 Punctuation | How to Use a Comma

How to use a 'comma'

In a list when there are three words or more, to replace the word and except for the last item in the list.
    Forwards, backwards, left and right.

Before a conjunction

    (1) When but / for are used...
    I did my best to pass the IELTS, but the Academic Reading section was difficult.

    (2) When and / or are used the comma is optional
    The boat was yellow, green, and white. [commonly referred to as the Oxford comma]
    The jeans are available in small, medium or large sizes.

To offer extra information

    (1) to show contrast.
    The sweater was blue, not black, and it was old.

    (2) When brackets could be used instead. The online IELTS training app, which she hadn't used before, was very easy to get the hang of.

    (3) When the phrase provides relevant information.
    Mr Kowalski, aged 75 from Poland, took the IELTS exam for the first time five years ago.

    (4) When the extra information is not necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence.
    Mr Kowalski, who likes coffee, took the IELTS exam for the first time five years ago.

    (5) When the main clause in a sentence is dependent on the clause before it. If you really want to stop smoking, just give up.
    Even though the IELTS exam was tough, I still think I passed.

For opening phrases, conjunctive verbs, etc.

    (1) Introductory or opening phrases.
    In general, 75 is quite old to sit a foreign language exam for the first time.
    On the whole, The IELTS exam is not as difficult as many people believe.

    (2) Conjunctive verbs
    Unfortunately, some candidates don't prepare sufficiently and, furthermore, they don't allow enough time for their preparation.

    (3) Following for example / that is, etc.
    Let's take one section, for example, the Academic Writing section, and look at it.
    You need to prepare thoroughly for the IELTS exam, that is, if you want a high score.

There are some exceptions: namely, when using abbreviations.

    when a pause is necessary

    (1) To make reading the text more natural.
    Whatever happens, don't panic.

    (2) To avoid confusion.
    In IELTS, exam techniques were not his strong skill.

    in address or quotation
    (1) Addressing someone using their name.
    So, Kowalski, how was your IELTS exam?

    (2) When quoting direct speech.
    His friend asked, "How was your IELTS exam?"

    (3) To show a word or phrase has been ommitted
    Study IELTS too much and you'll become bored, [study] too little and you won't pass.

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