Using commas to separate clauses

separating clauses with commasThe following lesson is an adapted extract from the book, Advanced Writing Skills for Students of English. I’ve decided to share it here as I’ve had a few questions relating to punctuation and sentence structure lately, and this gives a useful introduction to how commas help signal longer sentences. Commas are typically used to separate clauses in complex sentences, when we have a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses:

  • The passengers waited outside, while the steward refused to open the door.

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Defining and non-defining relative clauses and “that”

non-defining relative clauses that

Relative clauses add extra information to a sentence by defining a noun. They are usually divided into two types –defining relative clauses and non-defining relative clauses.

A relative clause is one that adds information to a sentence, in relation to a noun. For example, in the sentence “I will buy the car that costs the least.” Relative clauses can be connected to sentences by relative pronouns, who, which, that, whom and whose. There are a variety of grammar rules to tell you which relative pronoun to use for a relative clause, but in popular English, it has become possible to use that for a large number of relative clauses. However, there are still times when you cannotuse that. Continue reading