ELA 5: Commas and Punctuation Rules Made Simple

Welcome to our super awesome video about how important commas and punctuation are in your writing and just in general for that matter because they just make sense you know like when do we even stop talking if we don't have commas and periods and junk like that wow we are really running out of breath this is incredibly painful. Ahhhh, so much better.

5th GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:28

Our motto is just a bunch of commas and colons smooshed together. It’s pretty avant garde. [Girl taking photo of road sign]

00:33

Anyway, you’re in luck, because the only requirement for citizenship is watching this video…

00:37

One of the main duties of the comma is to separate the words in a series or list. [Coop discussing commas]

00:42

If you're writing out a series that contains more than two items, you're definitely going

00:45

to need to sprinkle in some commas.

00:47

Consider this sentence: "My grocery list includes vanilla extract, pickles, and Frosted Flakes."

00:53

Here, our list includes three items: vanilla extract, pickles, and Frosted Flakes. [List of items highlighted]

00:57

So we add a comma after each item on the list, except for the last one,

01:00

which gets a period…the comma’s limbless cousin.

01:03

Now, check out that comma before the "and." We call that little guy an Oxford comma.

01:08

The Oxford comma – also known as the serial comma – is the comma that comes before the [Dino discussing serial commas]

01:13

words "and" or "or" at the end of a list.

01:15

Technically, the Oxford comma is optional, but we're definitely going to use it, and

01:19

you should, too. And not just because it sounds like it came from a fancy British university. [Man appears behind Oxford University sign]

01:23

It just happens to keep things clear.

01:25

Consider this sentence: "Accepting his MVP award at the basketball team's banquet, Ernie

01:30

thanked his parents, Michael Jordan and Chubbles."

01:33

As you can see, this sentence doesn't have an Oxford comma. [Arrow pointing to place of Oxford comma]

01:36

It isn't quite clear whether Ernie is thanking a list of three things – his parents,

01:40

Michael Jordan, and Chubbles –

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…or whether Ernie's thanking his parents, who happen to be Michael Jordan and a cat named Chubbles. [Michael Jordan stood with Chubbles]

01:46

If we had just thrown an Oxford comma in there, it would have been completely clear that we

01:50

were talking about a list contains three distinct entities, and everyone would be a

01:54

lot less confused. Especially poor Chubbles.

01:57

Now, on to colons. Although commas are very important for separating items in a list, [

02:02

a colon is a great way to announce a list. [Dino explaining colons]

02:04

Like a military trumpeter, announcing: "Hey! We're a list! Here we come! Get out of the way!"

02:10

That’s… basically all the Punctuation Nation’s military is good for, sadly. [Military trumpet men marching]

02:14

Anyway, we can see a colon in action in the following sentence: "I have three favorite

02:18

television shows: Master Chef Jr., Arrow, and Family Feud."

02:21

There's our colon, right ahead of the list, giving it a nice, clear introduction.

02:26

One important rule for colons is that they only follow complete sentences. In our sample

02:30

sentence, if we were to cut the colon and the list that followed it, we'd still have [List highlighted and deleted]

02:34

a perfectly valid sentence: "I have three favorite television shows."

02:37

On the other hand, if we'd started with the sentence: "My three favorite television shows

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are: Master Chef Jr., Arrow, and Family Feud," then we'd be in trouble.

02:45

"My three favorite television shows are" is definitely not a complete sentence. So…no bueno.

02:50

Now that you understand the rules for commas and colons, [Commas and colon rules]

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you can take the pledge of allegiance to Punctuation Nation.

02:56

It’s just a bunch of exclamation marks.

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Good luck saying that out loud. [Boy pledging to punctuation nation flag]