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What are the rules for using commas (, 逗号) and periods (。 句号) in Chinese? In English I'm fairly confident of when to use commas and when to use periods. I learned in school what run-on sentences were and how to fix them with appropriate punctuation or conjunctions. The punctuation rules in Chinese are obviously different, though. Commas are used much more frequently. When I write in Chinese now, I also make liberal use of commas, but I don't know when a period would be more appropriate. Are there any objective punctuation rules to follow?

Similar (but different) questions:

  • Can you elaborate on the question? I don't think comma is much different from in English except there is 顿号(、) for enumeration. – NS.X. May 9 '15 at 3:07
  • Commas are used much more frequently than periods in ill-written Chinese. Period. – Henry HO May 9 '15 at 3:26
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I think using Chinese punctuation by following English punctuation rules is acceptable, but native Chinese readers may find it a little bit strange.

It is not necessary to use a period to separate every pair of SVO sentences. When you want to put many related components/sentences together, you can just use commas .

When you are going to talk about another topic or another step, use a period to end the current sentence and start a new sentence.

In general, be brave in using commas.

For example:

使用中文标点符号时,简单地说,不要太过拘泥,只要将相关的句子成分放在一起,再用逗号隔开即可;对于无关的成分,采用句号隔开。

Translation: In general, be brave in using Chinese punctuation. If some blocks of a few sentences are related, use commas to connect them together. If some other blocks are not related to the former blocks you are talking about, use a period to separate these two topics.

虽然很多时候要同时表达时间、地点、人物、起因、经过、结果,句子会变得比较长,但是这些成分都是一起的,有联系的,所以仍然可以使用逗号。

Even though sometimes your sentence gets very long because you need to put when, where, who and how altogether, be brave to use commas because these components are, still, connected.

正确地使用逗号可以让句子的意思更加清晰并充满节奏感,正确地使用句号可以让段落更有层次感。

If you use commas correctly, your sentences will become clear and have rhythm. If you use periods correctly, the whole paragraph will be perfect in terms of grammatical structure.

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Your question is a bit broad. If you want to know the exact rules of when to put 句号 or 逗号, then you better go study some grammar.

I try to explain in an understandable way the fist rule of how I approach proper use of commas and points in Chinese sentences.

Basically, I also feel very confident in English grammar rules and I originally thought that in Chinese the rules for commas don't differ so much. But often Chinese people asked me why I would always use so many 句号 (。). So in a first step, I started to remove 90% of the points and add commas instead, which proved to be much better.

Apparently Chinese people don't use 句号 to finish what I would call a sentence but instead to finish what I would call a paragraph / a block of sentences containing the same subject. Commas basically serve to separate two sentences as I would call them. As an example here part of a letter that I wrote to search for a university supervisor:

我叫罗宾逊,来自瑞士人,毕业于瑞士联邦理工大学电子系。// "Who am I?" (2 commas, 1 point)

我计划今年夏天能够在上海交通大学开始读研究生。
// "What are my plans for the future?" (0 commas, 1 point)

目前我在找一名导师,当我在电气工程系网站看到您的资料时,
我觉得我的学术兴趣与您的研究方向非常符合,而且读完您的传记后,
我看得出您有丰富的经验,这让我很想认识您。
// Summary of why I write this letter (5 commas, 1 point)

Side note: You will also barely see 句号 in short messages, just because most short messages accord to one broad subject. Like here the subject is "Tonight's dinner": “你什么时候回家,跟要跟我一起吃饭吧,8点多开始做饭,先还要去菜市场买东西呀,来不来”. And of course because people are also just lazy to write points. I know.. who care's about grammar in a short message?

  • Thanks for your answer. Basically this is my method, too. Replace most of the 句号s with commas. I was just wondering if there was a more systematic or grammatical way to know. Perhaps my question is too broad for this format, though. – Suragch May 9 '15 at 14:51

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