The SIX Basic Comma Rules Thanks to a great book: The LEAST You Should Know about English
Comma Rule #1 • The Serial…Comma, not Killer… Place a comma between items in a series as in the example below. I have my laptop, my pens, my pencils, and my MP3 Player in my backpack.
Comma Rule #2 • The Coordinating Conjunction Comma... Place a comma before a coordinating conjunction that joins two independent clauses. The coordinating conjunctions are: and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet. For Example: The best place to take a vacation is Chicago, but the best place to take a honeymoon is Hawaii.
Comma Rule #3 • The Introductory Word or Phrase comma… Always place a comma after an introductory word or phrase. See below. John, what are you doing to my car? OR As I walked down the street, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years.
Comma Rule #4 • The Interrupting Word/Phrase Comma… Always place a comma before and after any word or phrase that can be removed from the sentence and still make sense. For Example: John, the teacher, wrote his name on the board. OR I ran down the street, though I didn’t have to, and fell down and hurt my crown.
Comma Rule #5 • The Concluding Word/Phrase Comma… Always place a comma before any word or phrase that is just tagged on at the end of the sentence. See below. Is that you in the corner, John? OR I hadn’t seen John in years, though that didn’t make much difference in our friendship.
Comma Rule #6 • The Catch-all Comma…use it… to separate numbers more than four digits long (1,000,000), to separate city from state, (Paris, Texas), to separate month & year (August 15, 1980), before and after titles (James Smith, M.D., is no longer working here.), or to prevent confusion (To err is human; to forgive, divine.)
Brought to you by Tim McGinn & The NWACC Writing Center