Punctuation: The Comma

In continuation of our punctuation explanation, today we will discuss the comma. This tricky, little punctuation mark can be deceptive: It is very common, yet it must follow many specific, different types of rules. We will cover only a basic set of rules for the comma, but you will see how many different ways the comma can be used!

Commas generally have 2 different functions: to separate or to enclose. We will discuss both of these as well as a few additional conventions to remember when using the comma.

Commas That Separate
One function of the comma is to separate. This function makes perfect sense when we remember the purpose of punctuation in the first place—to make our writing more clear. When we effectively separate elements of our sentences, our writing is much easier to understand.

Independent Clauses
An independent clause is a complete thought that can stand alone. It contains a subject and a verb.
  • Commas may separate independent clauses joined by coordinate conjunctions.
    Moussa wanted to leave the class early, but his teacher told him that he had to wait.
  • When the independent clauses are short and closely related, the comma may be omitted.
    Moussa is eating an apple and Ernesto is eating a pear.
  • Do not use a comma to separate independent clauses without a coordinate conjunction.
    Wrong  Moussa wanted to leave the class early, however, his teacher told him that he had to wait.
    Moussa wanted to leave the class early; however, his teacher told him that he had to wait.
    Moussa wanted to leave the class early, but his teacher told him that he had to wait.
  • Do not separate compound predicates with a comma.
    Wrong     Moussa ran a mile, and lifted weights.
    Moussa ran a mile and lifted weights.
Elements in a Series
Commas are required to separate series of three or more elements.
          Jack went to the store and bought chicken, nuts, cereal, and candy.
Remember the comma that precedes the conjunction to prevent misreading.

Introductory Material
Commas may be used to separate an introductory phrase or clause from the main clause.
          While she was riding her bike to school, Jessie crashed.
  • The comma is optional after a short introductory adverbial phrase unless the comma is required for clarity.
    Either       Last year, Nomen Global students went white water rafting.
    Last year Nomen Global students went white water rafting.
    Soon after Nomen Global students went to Disneyland.
    Soon after, Nomen Global students went to Disneyland.
Coordinate Adjectives
Coordinate adjectives are two or more adjectives that can be linked by “and” and can independently modify the noun.
  • Commas separate coordinate adjectives. To determine whether adjectives are coordinate, try inserting the word “and” between the adjectives.
    This tricky, little punctuation mark can be deceptive.This tricky and little punctuation mark can be deceptive.
    Both “tricky” and “little” independently modify “punctuation mark”.
    Compare these coordinate adjectives with non-coordinate adjectives.
    I appreciate well-prepared Italian food.
    “Well-prepared” modifies the whole phrase “Italian food”.
Direct Quotations
Commas separate direct quotations from the rest of the sentence.
  • Separate a direct quotation or question from the rest of the sentence with a comma.
    Olivia said, “Please wash the dishes.”
  • Do not use a comma to separate the sentence with an indirect quotation.
    Olivia said that the dishes need to be washed.
Commas that Enclose
Another function of the comma is to enclose. A comma that encloses requires a partner, which may be another comma or a colon, semicolon, period, question mark, or exclamation mark.

Nonrestrictive Modifiers
Commas enclose nonrestrictive modifiers. A nonrestrictive modifier does not affect the meaning of the basic sentence; it could be removed from the sentence without altering meaning.
Imagine that I have 1 sister and 3 brothers.
          My sister, who lives in Oregon, is 21 years old.
If I took out the phrase “who lives in Oregon,” the meaning of the sentence would not change.
          My brother who lives in Texas works at a bike shop.
If I took out the phrase “who lives in Texas,” the reader would not know which of my 3 brothers works at a bike shop.

Commas enclose words or phrases in apposition unless the appositive is restrictive. A restrictive appositive is required to distinguish its antecedent from other members of the same class.
Restrictive           The precious stone sapphire is known for its blue color.
Nonrestrictive     The sapphire, a precious stone, is known for its blue color.
  • The word “or” often precedes nonrestrictive appositives. The appositional “or” always requires enclosure.
    The independent clause, or main clause, must have both a subject and a verb.
Interrupting Elements
Commas enclose elements that interrupt the sentence.
                The team just lost the game. They will, however, keep practicing every day.
                Rebecca, also known as Becky, will no longer be taking classes.

Conventional Usage
The following conventional uses of the comma should be considered enclosure rather than separation.
  • Dates
    This photograph was taken on January 14, 1956.
  • Geographical names and addresses
    Garrett was born in Los Angeles, California, while Gordon was born in Provo, Utah.
  • Numbers
    There were 37,000 people in attendance at last night’s concert.
The comma, as we said before, is a tricky punctuation mark to master; however, when you understand its functions in the sentence, the comma can be very useful.

To learn more about how and when to use commas, study with us at Nomen Global.

Student Spotlight: Erik Parronchi

Erik Parronchi is from Brazil and has been studying at Nomen Global for 6 months. He is a dedicated student who stays on campus to refine his English skills.Erik is one of the few students we have enrolled in the GMAT Preparation course. "GMAT" stands for "graduate management admission test". This test is required of students who want to study business in a graduate program. Erik plans to take the TOEFL and GMAT in order to apply for the MBA program at Brigham Young University.

Besides preparing for his tests, Erik enjoys the teachers and the activities at Nomen Global. He has experienced success in many aspects of his life: receiving a master's degree in Brazil, being professionally successful, and having a beautiful family.

Erik is a proud husband and father. His family is the most important thing to him. He enjoys watching movies, playing sports (especially soccer, tennis, and volleyball), and playing with his kids. Erik loves good Brazilian barbecue and Italian-style pasta.

In addition to receiving his MBA, Erik aspires to write a book, serve an LDS mission with his wife, and provide the best education for his children.

Learn more about Erik and other great students like him at Nomen Global!

Stewart Falls

On Saturday, over 30 Nomen Global students strapped on their hiking shoes to begin on the most beautiful adventures in Utah Valley. We met at Nomen Global and carpooled up to Sundance Ski Resort. 

The hike itself was beautiful, surrounded by lush, green plants and a charming, flowing river. After almost an hour into the hike, we could see our destination!

The real fun began when we reached the waterfall. Some of the students walked bare-foot through the river below; all of the students enjoyed the cool spray of the water after a long hike. A few of the brave climbed down to the base of waterfall and stood under the cold falls! Take a look at some of the pictures of our hike to Stewart Falls!

 To learn more about Nomen Global and the other activities we have, visit our website.

Punctuation: End Marks

Last week we covered the importance of understanding and using correct punctuation. Today we will begin discussing the most frequently used punctuation marks. Although these marks are frequently used, our teachers at Nomen Global still see some confusion among students of all levels. Here is a brief rundown of the three end punctuation marks: the period (.), the question mark(?), and the exclamation mark(!).

The period is used after a sentence that is simply making a statement.
        I read four books this month.
        Jason forgot his homework.
        Annie bought a new car.

Question Mark
The question mark is used after a sentence that asks a question. This mark is most often seen in direct quotations.
        He asked, "May I leave class early?"

However, after an indirect quotation, a period is used.
        He asked if he could leave class early.

Exclamation Mark
The exclamation mark is used after a sentence that is expressed with strong emotions.
        I burned my finger!
        Look! James is winning the race!
        You lied!

Another Note
The end punctuation marks always come at the end of a sentence. We know that combinations of independent and dependent clauses create a complete sentence. The final punctuation mark will always come immediately following the last word in the sentence.
        I ate a banana for breakfast.
        Did you go the party?
        This apple pie is delicious!

        I ate a banana for breakfast  .
        Did you go the party  ?
        This apple pie is delicious  !

For additional practice on terminal punctuation, click here.

To learn more about punctuation and how to use it, visit us at Nomen Global.

Student Spotlight: Gabriel Gimenes Silva

Gabriel Gimenes is from Brazil. He has been studying English at Nomen Global for 4 months and will continue to study for 1 more month. Gabriel enjoys his friends, his teachers, his good experiences, and the inexpensive tuition at Nomen Global.

Gabriel has been preparing to take the TOEFL since he arrived in the United States. He took the TOEFL just a few weeks ago—and he received an excellent score! His score was so good that  he is now able to apply to Brigham Young University. Congratulations! Gabriel considers this one of his greatest successes. He hopes to study mechanical engineering.

In addition to studying English, Gabriel spends his time playing the guitar, playing Xbox, and playing sports (especially soccer). His favorite food is the Italian dish lasagna a bolognese.

A few of Gabriel's goals include finishing his study at an American university, having a good job in the United States, and starting his own company. One of the most important things to Gabriel is living with people that he likes.

Meet Gabriel and other great students like him at Nomen Global.

O Pioneers!

When we think of the word "pioneer," many people think of innovators in history like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, or Thomas Edison. However, "pioneer" has a special meaning in American history. American pioneers represent the people or groups of people that began the westward expansion of the new country. The first American pioneers originated in the thirteen original American colonies, but other pioneers include those who have moved from other countries to the United States. Nomen Global students are even pioneers! Though they are a part of history, our students caught a glimpse of American pioneers from an older generation. Take a look at some of the pictures we took from our trip to the Pioneer Museum and Village at North Park in Provo.

Our students had a great educational experience. See what they have to say:

"I think it was very good because we learned about USA's pioneers." - Tomoya, Japan
"It was very good for me because I could know more history from the United States of America." - Mario, Indonesia
"I think [the Pioneer village] is a great place. I liked how our tour guide explained things." - Rocio, Mexico
"It was very interesting. I learned new things about pioneers. I also learned new vocabulary words." - Tamara, Armenia
"I loved it! I learned how to play with old toys [that the pioneers used]!" - Aika, Japan
"It's a pretty experience because you see the style of life. No internet, no Facebook--only your family and nature." - Sebastian, Colombia

Learn more about American history with us at Nomen Global!

Punctuation Explanation


Whoa! Without proper spacing, capitalization, or punctuation, those sentences are mighty difficult to read! Many of us understand word spacing and capitalization quite well; however, punctuation seems to puzzle writers more than other conventions of writing.

Think of punctuation as the stitching in a quilt. Just as stitching holds pieces of fabric together to keep the quilt organized and beautiful, punctuation holds pieces of the language together (words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs) to keep writing organized and beautiful.

Punctuation is also often described as traffic signals: it signals to the reader when to slow down, when to watch out, when to turn, and when to stop completely.

Punctuation has been used for centuries, most commonly attributed to famous Greek playwrights like Euripides and Aristophanes. They would use a system of dots to help their cast know when to pause and when to stop—essentially, how to perform.

Although the marks are much different today than they were in the time of the ancient Greeks, punctuation remains an essential part of our writing system. 

Look at the following popular examples that show the importance of punctuation to extract meaning:

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy—will you let me be yours?

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? 

In the following weeks, we will cover these most important punctuation marks:

Period                             .
Question Mark               ?
Exclamation Mark          !
Apostrophe                    '
Comma                           ,
Colon                              :
Semicolon                       ;
Dash                               —
Ellipses                          . . .
Parentheses                   ( )
Brackets                        [ ]
Slash                              /
Quotation Marks           " "
Hyphen                          -

To learn more about punctuation and writing, visit us a Nomen Global.

Student Spotlight: Sandy Yang

Sandy Yang is an advanced student from Taiwan. She has been studying at Nomen Global for almost 2 months and will continue to study English here for 8 more months. Sandy is studying at Nomen Global to improve her English and to make friends from different countries. In addition to studying English, Sandy enjoys the teachers and the other students "because all of them are nice. [She] really learns a lot from them."

After Sandy finishes studying at Nomen Global, she plans to return to Taiwan and work. Making money is one of the most important things to Sandy, so having a solid understanding of English will help her reach her goals. Other goals that Sandy aspires after include improving her English and traveling around with her parents.

Sandy enjoys hanging out with friends in her spare time. Her favorite foods are blueberry scones and muffins.

Living alone in Utah is one of Sandy's greatest successes. This experience allows Sandy to reinforce her independence and responsibility. She is also proud to report that she can solve any problem with which she is faced.

Meet Sandy and other great students like her at Nomen Global!

Hiking Trails in Utah

Welcome to Utah! Now, what to do? Summertime in Provo is a great time to get out and explore the majestic mountains around us. Nomen Global students are lucky to have some of the most beautiful hiking trails right at our fingertips! Today we will share some of our favorite hikes in Utah Valley.

Easy Hikes
Stewart Falls
This popular trail lies to the east side of Timpanogos and travels through a beautiful forest of trees and shrubbery. The reward, however, comes at the end of the trail where hikers are led to a waterfall over 200 feet high. The trail splits to allow hikers to view the waterfall from the top of a cliff or from the bottom of the falls.

Battle Creek Falls
A friendly trail near Pleasant Grove, Utah, leads to yet another waterfall. This waterfall can be viewed from both the top and the bottom of the falls. Adventurous hikers attempt to rappel from the top of the falls, while they enjoy the cool mountain water.

Fifth Water Waterfalls and Hot Spring
Another popular hike, Fifth Water Waterfalls and Hot Spring, lead the hiker to a rewarding and unique destination. Hikers usually plan to take a dip in the hot spring at the base of the falls. This trail is located east of Spanish Fork and is especially popular in the warm weather.

Moderate Hikes
Timpanogos Cave
This trail leads to one of the more unique sights in Utah Valley: Timpanogos Cave National Monument. The formations found in the cave are decorated with color, a scene that attracts visitors from all around the valley. The caves must be explored with a tour guide, and the destination is worth the steep hike.

Y Trail
One of the most popular hikes among Provo residents, Y Trail leads to the famous, giant "Y" that is whitewashed on the mountain. The "Y" is the tallest letter of its kind in the United States--even taller than the letters in HOLLYWOOD! This trail is quite steep, so be prepared with good shoes and lots of energy. The reward lies at the top of the trail: a spectacular view of Utah Valley, day or night.

Difficult Hikes
Mt. Nebo Summit
Mt. Nebo is the tallest mountain along the Wasatch Front. This strenuous trail takes the hiker an additional 3800 feet in elevation.

Mt. Timpanogos Summit
The other popular peak takes the hiker 11,749 feet in elevation. Mt. Timpanogos is the second tallest mountain along the Wasatch Front, after Mt. Nebo; however, this summit is the more popular.

Take some time this summer to enjoy all the trails available near Nomen Global. To learn more about studying English at our school, visit our website.

Grammar Guide: Sentence Structure

To be an effective writer, you need to understand how to write a correct sentence. A sentence usually contains a subject and a verb. In English , the first word in a sentence is always capitalized and the last word is followed by an appropriate punctuation mark. This lesson will cover the structure of sentences.

In order to understand the different structures of sentences, you must understand the difference between independent and dependent clauses.

An independent clause is a clause (a group of words containing a subject and a verb) that can stand alone. An independent clause can stand as a complete sentence.

A dependent clause is a clause that cannot stand alone. A dependent clause must be connected to an independent clause in order to form a complete sentence. 

Simple Sentences 

A simple sentence is composed of one single independent clause.

The girl ate an apple.
The boy ate an orange.

Compound Sentences
A compound sentence is composed of two (or more) independent clauses connected by a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

The girl ate an apple, but the boy ate an orange.

Complex Sentences
A complex sentence is composed of one (or more) independent clause and one (or more) dependent clause connected by a subordinating conjunction at the beginning of the dependent clause and a comma (if the dependent clause comes first).

When the dependent clause comes first, use a comma to separate the dependent clause and the independent clause.

Because she was hungry, the girl ate an apple.
Before the girl ate an apple, the boy ate an orange.

When the independent clause comes first, do not use a comma between the independent clause and the dependent clause.

The boy ate an orange because he was hungry.
The girl ate an apple after the boy ate an orange.

Compound-Complex Sentences
A compound-complex sentence is composed of one (or more) dependent clause and two (or more) independent clauses.

When the dependent clause comes first, use a comma to separate the dependent clause and the independent clause.

Because they were hungry, the girl ate an apple, and the boy ate an orange.
After they had eaten lunch, the girl ate an apple, and the boy ate an orange.

To learn more about how to form correct sentences, visit us at Nomen Global!

Staff Spotlight: Namsoo Kim

Namsoo Kim works in the International Recruiting Office at Nomen Global. He is from Seoul, Korea, and has been working at Nomen Global for over a year. Namsoo works with countries in East and South Asia, primarily in Korea. 

In addition to working with Nomen Global, Namsoo has also worked as a construction field engineer. However, Namsoo enjoys working at Nomen Global because he has to brainstorm new and innovative ways to find and bring students to the US. He says that recruiting is a job that requires and expands his creativity.

Namsoo speaks both Korean and English, which allows him to act as an advisor to the Korean students who study here. Namsoo also is adept in computer skills and he welcomes any chance to fish or ride his motorcycle. Namsoo's favorite quote is "Don't despair." 

Meet Namsoo and other great members of our staff at Nomen Global!

Independence Day Traditions

This weekend Americans across the country will be celebrating the independence of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, officially making this country independent of Great Britain.

Citizens of the United States celebrate this day in many ways.

Red, White, and Blue
The red, white, and blue colors can be seen on houses and in the streets. These three colors are most easily recognized on the nation's flag. Also known as the "Star-Spangled Banner," the flag of the United States is one of the most popular symbols of freedom and patriotism.

Many cities throughout the United States hold parades, simple to extravagant, down the main street in the city. Parades are known for colorful balloons, animated floats, classic cars, and marching bands. Children and adults alike usually line the main street on the morning of the 4th to participate in this old-fashioned tradition. The Grand Parade in Provo will take place along University Avenue at 9 a.m. on Monday morning.

What better way to spend the all-American holiday than to play (or watch) the all-American sport of baseball? Many people enjoy getting together after the parade to play a quick game of baseball before eating a well-prepared barbecue.

What is a good holiday without good food? One of the most fulfilling traditions on the 4th of July is an outdoor barbecue, complete with barbecued meat, corn on the cob, potato salad, watermelon, and ice cream.

Whether private, public, or (in many cases) both, fireworks mark the culmination of a well-celebrated Independence Day. Many children enjoy running around with sparklers while their parents light small fireworks in the streets. However, the scene to catch is the professional firework display hosted at parks and stadiums throughout the country. One of the most popular firework shows in the state of Utah, the Stadium of Fire at LaVell Edwards Stadium, will occur tomorrow evening, July 2.

Learn more about the 4th of July and other American traditions with us at Nomen Global!