Comma Rules for Clear Writing (with Examples)

Some of the generally used punctuation marks, an errant comma may be the distinction between an entire sentence and an entire mess. On this publish, we’ll discover seven comma guidelines that may hold your writing concise and coherent.

Earlier than we dive in, what’s a comma anyway? You’ll be able to consider a comma as a lighter model of a interval. Whereas a interval ends a sentence full-stop, a comma is a smaller, softer pause. It will probably separate phrases, clauses, or concepts inside one sentence.

1. Two full sentences can solely be linked with a comma when utilizing a coordinating conjunction.

A coordinating conjunction is a conjunction positioned between phrases, phrases, clauses, or sentences of equal rank. English has seven essential coordinating conjunctions — for, and, nor, however, or, but, so — that can be utilized to weave collectively two full sentences with a comma. You need to use the mnemonic FANBOYS to recollect them.

Comma rules example: The Grateful Dead is my favorite band, I traveled 3,500 miles to see them in the Spring of 72’. Each of the above ideas are full sentences. Nevertheless, the dearth of certainly one of our FANBOYS after the comma leads to a comma splice. The sentence is clunky with out the presence of a coordinating conjunction to hyperlink the 2 full ideas in a single sentence.

Comma rules: The Grateful Dead is my favorite band, so I traveled 3,500 miles to see them in the Spring of 72’.

That is extra prefer it! “So” is the coordinating conjunction that hyperlinks these two full sentences collectively. Each ideas may stand alone separated by a interval, however our FANBOYS enable us to hyperlink them along with the assistance of a comma. The Grateful Useless is your favourite band? It is sensible that you just traveled up to now to see them.

2. Use a comma to hyperlink an incomplete sentence with an entire sentence.

An incomplete sentence doesn’t specific a completely fashioned thought and might’t stand by itself. Nevertheless, you need to use a comma to hyperlink an incomplete sentence with a completely fashioned sentence that expounds upon and completes the thought. For instance:

Comma rules example: Even though I had work in the morning. I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.“Regardless that I had work within the morning” is an incomplete sentence. Ending it with a interval makes it right into a cliffhanger of an unfinished thought, however a comma can save the day.

Comma rules: Even though I had work in the morning, I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.Using a comma and the next full sentence “I traveled 3,500 miles to see the Grateful Useless in Copenhagen.” make this right into a grammatically appropriate sentence. One thing tells me you didn’t make it to work the following day, although!

3. Use the Oxford comma.

The Oxford comma is a controversial matter on the earth of punctuation. There’s nice historic debate on whether or not the Oxford comma is important, however we right here at HubSpot suggest utilizing it for accuracy and readability in your writing.

What’s the Oxford comma?
The Oxford comma is the ultimate comma in an inventory of issues. For instance: I would like a stapler, some rye bread, and a gallon of glue.

I don’t know what you can be making, however that’s the right use of an Oxford comma in an inventory of things. Right here’s one other instance:

Grammar comma rules: I watched a documentary about Babe Ruth, a New York City mobster, and the founder of New York-Style pizza.

This sentence states that you just watched a documentary about three distinct and influential New Yorkers. The Oxford comma makes it clear that these are three completely different individuals. If we omit the Oxford comma, issues can get somewhat complicated:

Grammar comma rules: I watched a documentary about Babe Ruth, a New York City mobster and the founder of New York-style Pizza.Until Babe Ruth lived a secret lifetime of crime and thin-crust pizza, you possibly can see how the absence of the Oxford comma on this sentence may confuse readers. Whereas each variations of the sentence are technically appropriate, we suggest the Oxford comma to make sure your sentences are freed from ambiguity.

4. Use a comma between two coordinate adjectives that describe the identical noun.

Coordinate adjectives are two or extra adjectives that describe the identical noun. In the event you flip-flop your adjectives or pop an “and” in between them and the sentence nonetheless is sensible, then you definitely’ve obtained coordinate adjectives. In the event you’re utilizing coordinate adjectives, bear in mind to separate them with a comma.

Comma rules: The Grateful Dead make psychedelic, spontaneous music.Psychedelic and spontaneous are coordinate adjectives as a result of they collectively describe the noun, which is the music of the Grateful Useless. You’ll be able to reverse the order or substitute the comma for an “and” and the sentence means the identical factor. We suggest utilizing a comma.

Comma rules examples: The Grateful Dead make psychedelic spontaneous music.

It is delicate, however the sentence doesn’t circulate accurately and not using a comma between psychedelic and spontaneous.

5. Use a comma (or pair of commas) to separate non-essential info in a sentence.

Comma rules: My father-in-law, in a quest for the perfect rack of ribs, purchased a $10,000 Swiss-made barbecue. Though we respect the data, “in a quest for the right rack of ribs” is non-essential to the principle level of the sentence, which is that my father-in-law spent approach an excessive amount of on his grill. You need to use a single comma with the non-essential info originally of the sentence, or a pair of commas to rope it off within the center, however don’t overlook your commas when including extraneous element.

Comma rules example: My father-in-law in a quest for the perfect rack of ribs purchased a $10,000 Swiss-made barbecue.

With out commas to separate the non-essential info, the sentence is long-winded and grammatically incorrect. I’ll take a pair of commas with these ribs, please!

6. Be sure to place commas accurately when utilizing quotes.

Generally, you need to use a comma to introduce quotes or dialogue in a sentence.

Comma rules: The barista said, “We’re out of oat milk.”

Comma rules examples: The barista said “We’re out of oat milk.”

The rationale we’d like a comma on this instance is that the quoted materials is syntactically impartial, which means it stands other than the encircling sentence. Don’t be impolite! Introduce that mid-sentence quote with a comma.

Nevertheless, as there usually are within the English language, there are exceptions to this rule. If the quote blends into the encircling sentence, usually with using a conjunction, you possibly can omit the comma.

Grammar comma rules: The barista reminded me that “oat milk is not and has never been available at this establishment.”No comma is important on this instance as a result of the quote blends into the sentence with using the conjunction “that.”

7. Put a comma earlier than “whereas” to distinction two concepts.

If you’re utilizing “whereas” in a sentence to basically imply “though” or “whereas,” bear in mind to put a comma earlier than it to maintain the which means of your sentence clear.

Comma rules: Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes, while Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

Using “whereas” on this sentence permits us to distinction two BBQ ideologies.

Comma rules examples: Kansas City style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes while Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

With out the comma, the which means of whereas technically adjustments to “concurrently,” which doesn’t make sense on this context.

Moreover, if you’re utilizing “whereas” originally of the sentence, you need to place a comma on the finish of the clause that it introduces.

Comma rules: While Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is thick and contains crushed tomatoes, Carolina Gold sauce is thinner and mustard-based.

Using a comma after the clause that “whereas” introduces permits us to retain the which means as “whereas” and distinction the 2 concepts.

comma rules list, 7 rules to follow

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