The Appendage Comma with

Peripheral Remarks

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Among its six uses, the appendage comma separates short, incidental comments and asides from the main thought of a sentence.

Use the Comma with Short Parenthetical Comments

Whenever you include a short aside or afterthought in a sentence that is grammatically complete without that extra information, use an appendage comma or comma pair to separate that parenthetical element from the sentence’s main idea:

The oysters,I’m sure you remember,were not quite fresh last time we tried them.
That meal could have used ketchup,to say it kindly.

Use em dashes or parentheses for longer parenthetical comments.

Use the Comma with Rhetorical or Leading Question Tags

You can also use the appendage comma to attach a brief question to a complete sentence. Writers often do this to communicate emphasis or an expectation:

That wasn’t so bad,was it?
You aren’t ready to leave yet,are you?
I know,right?

Knowledge Check

Copy the full quotation into the textbox. Then insert any necessary peripheral appendage commas:

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How to Keep the Real Subject of a Sentence in Focus with the Appendage Comma:

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How to Keep the Real Subject of a Sentence in Focus with the Appendage Comma:

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Similar to attribution tags, many peripheral remarks could be composed as dependent noun clauses joined to a subject or predicate by the conjunction that:

I’m sure you remember that the oysters were not quite fresh last time we tried them.

Notice how the subject of that sentence is the speaker (“I’m”), and the real focus of the sentence—the oysters—is demoted to a verbal object. Regrettably, this typically happens with that clauses.

Instead, writing such peripheral remarks with the appendage comma helps keep the sentence’s main thought in focus. Since the oysters are the focus in this example, it makes more sense to structure them as the subject of the sentence:

The oysters,I’m sure you remember,were not quite fresh last time we tried them.

Choose the correct comma usage for peripheral remarks:

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