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Commas in space and time

Learn how to use commas when writing addresses (in space) and dates (in time). 

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians! Hello, Paige! - [Voiceover] Hi, David. So today we're gonna be talking about commas in space and time because commas have basically one function, which is-- - [Voiceover] Separating parts of sentences. - [Voiceover] Separating parts of sentences. And what's neat is that we can use commas to separate stuff out in space and separate stuff out in time. So I'm gonna handle space; Paige is gonna do time. It's gonna be sweet. So first of all, one way in which you can use commas to separate space is by talking about addresses, people's physical addresses in space. So the fictitious private detective, Nero Wolfe, one of my very favorites, is supposed to live at 454 West 35th Street in New York. So if I wanted to write Mister Wolfe a letter, and I would write him a letter because he hates talking on the phone, I would address it like so, separating all elements of his address with commas. So Nero Wolfe, comma, 454 West 35th Street, comma, New York City, or just New York, comma, New York. And then I would put the zip code, which I think is 10001, but I'm not sure if they had zip codes when those stories took place, but it doesn't matter. You separate out all of these elements with commas. And this isn't just for writing addresses; this is for referring to any point in space on the Planet. So if I wanted to tell you the name of my favorite city on the Planet, I would say: "Ouagadougou", comma, "Burkina Faso." Real place. I've never been there. I would like to go someday. And that is how you use commas in space. Paige, how are commas used in time? - [Voiceover] So commas are used in dates. - [Voiceover] OK. - [Voiceover] So, I could say: on Tuesday, comma, October fifth, comma, 2010, comma, I ate a cricket. So, as you can see, we've separated the day of the week from the day of the month, October fifth, from the year, 2010, and then separated all that from the rest of the sentence: I ate a cricket. - [Voiceover] Because all of this is like a prepositional phrase that is modifying the word ate. - [Voiceover] True. - [Voiceover] So we wanna make sure that all of it is separated out from the rest of the sentence; and we separate it out using our friend, the comma. - [Voiceover] Of course. - [Voiceover] So if you want to express a kind of complicated relationship in time or in space, you wanna make sure a letter gets to a very specific place, you wanna talk about a very specific city in a very specific country, you use commas. You wanna talk about a very specific time, you use commas. That's commas in space and time, my grammarians. You can learn anything. David out. - [Voiceover] Paige out.