How to use the Comma in English | Basic Comma Rules

The comma

Basic comma rules in the English language

Place a comma before: and (conjunction), but (conjunction), for (preposition), or (conjunction), nor (adverb and conjunction), so (adverb), and yet (adverb) when they connect two independent clauses1.

Examples of comma usage

  • E.g. She hit the shot, and he cheered for her.

Separate three or more items in a series with a comma.

  • E.g. We want to protect cats, dogs, and horses.

Place a comma after an introductory phrase.

  • E.g. Because I was hungry, I bought a hamburger.

Set off interrupters with pairs of commas, pairs of em dashes, or pairs of parentheses.

  • The hamburger, hot and juicy, tasted great
  • The hamburger — flamed grilled on the BBQ — tasted great
  • The hamburger, which was hot and juicy tasted great
  • The hamburger (made from ground beef and tofu) tasted great

Place commas around the name of a person or group spoken to.

  • E.g. I hope, Julia, that you’re going with me.

Place commas around an expression that interrupts the sentence.

  • E.g. We took our fishing rods, therefore, and got into the boat.

*Clause: a grammatical unit next below a sentence in rank and said to consist of a subject and a predicate.

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