When To Use Commas

Comma – Punctuation mark

Commas reflect pauses in speech.

A listing comma is used to separate items in a series or list. In British English, the last two items in a list are not usually separated by a comma unless these are long.

  • The Three Musketeers were Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
  • I went to China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

A joining comma is used to join two complete sentences into a single sentence. It is usually followed by a connecting word like and, or, but, while or yet.

  • We can go swimming, or we could stay here.
  • I decided to come home earlier than I had planned, and the others spent the evening at the local disco.

A gapping comma is used to show that certain words have been omitted instead of repeated.

  • Jane decided to order the home-made steak pie and Alice, the duck special. (The omitted words are decided to order.)

When subordinate clauses begin sentences, they are often separated by commas.

  • After I left school, I went to London.

If words or expressions interrupt the normal progression of a sentence, we usually separate them off by commas.

  • John, however, did not turn up.
  • We were, believe it or not, in love with each other.

We use commas to mark off a noun or phrase in apposition.

  • Milton, the great English poet, was blind.
  • Paul, the apostle, was beheaded during the reign of Nero.

Commas are used to mark off a participial phrase from the rest of the sentence.

  • Driven by rain, we took shelter under a tree.
  • Caesar, having conquered his enemies, returned to Rome.

A non-defining relative clause is separated from the rest of the sentence by commas.

  • Sailors, who are generally superstitious, say it is unlucky to embark on a Friday.

Related posts:

  1. Correct use of comma
  2. When to use commas to separate words and phrases
  3. Connecting sentences with conjunctions and transitional adverbs
  4. How to avoid run-on sentences?
  5. When To Use The Colon And The Semicolon
  6. When to set off relative clauses with commas
  7. Limit the use of transitional adverbs
  8. Why you need to use familiar and natural sentence patterns?
  9. For Instance vs. For Example vs. Such As
  10. How to combine two sentences using a that-clause

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

2 Responses

  1. nitish garg says:

    I don’t understand why to put a comma before and/or. we can also normally write these sentences also

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