Commas (KS2) Explained

Temitope Adebowale
Dec 12, 2023 By Temitope Adebowale
Originally Published on Aug 25, 2020
Young girl sat at her desk writing in her notebook about KS2 commas.

A comma (,) is a punctuation mark used to tell readers when to briefly pause.

Without it, sentences won't make as much sense. For this reason, it's vital for KS2 kids to be confident using commas when writing and reading.

When Are KS2 Children Taught About Commas?

Children are usually taught about commas in Year 2. Here is what KS2 children will learn:

Years 2 and 3: Commas will be introduced, for the separation of fronted adverbials from main sentences (a fronted adverbial is a word or phrase that gives more information, placed at the start of a sentence: "Luckily, there was no traffic").

Year 4: Commas will be used to punctuate direct speech when embedded in sentences.

Year 5: Children begin to use commas to separate parenthesis.

Year 6: Children gain confidence using commas to separate parenthesis, employing them for clarity when writing also.

What Is Taught About Commas (KS2)?

KS2 children are initially taught that commas are used to tell you when to briefly pause during reading. They will learn about and apply the following uses of commas:

-For separating items in a list.

-To clarify sentences by separating text.

-To separate main clauses from subordinate clauses.

-To distinguish main speech from the rest of the text in reading.

-To indicate embedded clauses.

KS2 children are taught about commas using worksheets (placing the commas in the right place) then writing exercises (writing their own sentences with commas) as well as reading exercises, reading sentences with and without commas and observing the differences.

Mum helps her son study.

Image © Pexels

How To Use Commas:

Here are the eight rules for using commas:

1) To separate items in a list ("I only have a bottle of water, my phone and my keys"). If there are only three items, don't put a comma before the last one. If there are more than three items, put a comma before the last one, followed by 'and').

2) To separate the date from the year (Friday 21 August, 2020).

3) To separate dependent clauses from independent clauses ("I left the room, which was way too hot") and break up sentences.

4) Before you slightly change the topic in a sentence ("Hello, are you lost?").

5) To separate a city (or state) from a country (Lagos, Nigeria).

6) Before a conjunction that is separating two independent clauses (before 'yet', 'so', but', 'nor', 'and', 'for', and 'or').

7) To show parenthesis, extra information that isn't needed but clarifies what you're talking about ("I'm glad that, in spite of the rain, I went shopping"). This also includes fronted adverbials.

8) To separate quotes from the rest of the sentence (She shouted, "I'm so excited!").

The Four Types Of Comma:

Here are the four types of comma:

1) The Joining Comma (to join clauses beginning with 'but', 'while', 'and', or 'or').

2) The Gapping Comma (for when you don't want to repeat something you've already mentioned: "She came first and I, second").

3) The Listing Comma (to separate items in a list).

4) The Bracketing Comma (to indicate extra information in the sentence).

Commas vs. Brackets:

Commas can be used to separate extra information (parenthesis, with an 'i') in sentences just like brackets can (also known as parentheses, with an 'e'.). Here are some differences:

-Commas have a variety of uses, while brackets are solely used to contain extra information.

-Commas used to show parenthesis can get confused with other commas, while brackets don't get confused with other punctuation in the sentence.

Activities To Help Explain Commas

Grab some paper, some pens and try some of these handy activities to help kids improve their English grammar (reward treats on standby):

-Write some sentences that are missing their commas, and ask to insert them, where they think they should go.

-Grab a book and read together, discussing the placement of the commas when they arise.

-Write some sentences down with commas in the wrong places, and ask the kids to tell you where they think the commas should be.

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Written by Temitope Adebowale

Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in Fine and Studio Arts

Temitope Adebowale picture

Temitope AdebowaleBachelor of Fine Arts specializing in Fine and Studio Arts

A Fine Art student from the Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, Temitope has a passion for learning and expressing herself creatively. She finds great reward in tutoring children from primary school up to sixth form. When she's not teaching or writing, you can find Temitope painting, editing photos, baking, or building LEGO with her nephew.

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