Comma Patterns: 3-2-2-1 + QuICE + Letters (Dear, Date, City, State)

Click here for the student handout: Cornell Notes on Comma Rules and Patterns (Google Doc)

3 or more in a series

  • SENTE N, C, and E.
  • His room smelled of cooked grease, Lysol, and age. (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

2 adjectives before a noun (that can be reversed)

  • adjective, adjective noun
  • It’s a pack.  A snarling, distrustful, bickering pack like the Socs in their social clubs or the street gangs in new York or the wolves in the timber. (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)

2 sentences with a conjunction

  • Sentence, FANBOYS sentence. (FANBOYS = for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
  • Nick Allen had plenty of ideas , and he knew what do with them. (Andrew Clements, Frindle)



Quote: “You’d better leave us alone,” the redhead said in a biting voice, “or I’ll call the cops.” (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)


  • SENT, interrupter,  ENCE.
  • Avon, a rather small snail, read a book every day. (Avi, The End of the Beginning)
  • Soda, who is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, never cracks a book.  (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)

Clarity (prevent confusion): What he says, says volumes. She saw the spider that climbed the wall and gasped. She saw the spider that climbed the wall, and gasped.

 Extra info.

  • Opener, sentence: Anyway, I went on walking home, thinking about the movie, and then suddenly wishing I had some company.  (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)
  • Opener, sentence: When you are a kid, you think you are going to remember everything. (Esme Raji Codell, Sing a Song of Tuna Fish)
  • Sentence, closer: I’m not sure how you spell it, but it’s the abbreviation for Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich kids. (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)


Letters: Dear (Dear Mom and Dad,);  Date (November 20, 2011); City, State (Santa Barbara, CA)


Thanks to Justina Weinbender for creating the mnemonic device: 3-2-2-1 and QuICE (pronounced “quickie”).

For more information on sentence patterns, see these two excellent books by Jeff Anderson: Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing.


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