All About Commas

Want to write a book? Our proven program, 100 Day Book begins soon. Get the process to finish your book now. Learn more and sign up here.

Commas matter. That tiny period-with-a-tail can change the meaning of your entire sentence, and your use of it quickly demonstrates just how well you know the English language.

All About the Comma

Today, I have just a few comma tips for you. This is nowhere near an exhaustive guide, but if you learn these rules, you'll give a better impression with your written word everywhere you go.

The Purpose of Commas

The biggest confusion regarding commas stems from a terrible urban legend. That urban legend is this: “If you want to know where a comma goes, just put it wherever you want a pause in your writing.” (And then say “comma” three times in front of a mirror, etc.)

This is not true.

Commas serve a specific purpose; they exist to divide content by clause, to delineate list items from one another, and to indicate sentence continuation before and after quotation marks.

Generally speaking, commas only show up for clarity's sake—and I'll be explaining how they clarify in each of the following examples.

When to Use Commas

Use Commas Between More Than Two Items

In a list, two items never require a comma. Three or more, however, do. For example:

  • I can go to the store for milk and eggs. (No comma required.)
  • I can go to the store for milk, eggs, and bread. (Comma required.)

This applies to subjects, too. Two subjects do not require a comma; three or more do.

  • INCORRECT: Sandy, and Jim went to the store. It should just be “Sandy and Jim went to the store.”
  • Sandy and Jim went to the store. (Huzzah, correct!)
  • Sandy, Jim, and Carlos went to the store. (Also correct.)

Three or more verbs require a comma, too.

  • Shirley Temple sang and danced. (Correct.)
  • Shirley Temple sang, danced, and acted. (Also correct.)

Compound verbs (that is, multiple verbs that describe a single action) can get complicated, but if you follow the “three or more” rule, you can usually make it work.

  • I took the spatula and stirred. (Compound verb: took and stirred.)
  • I took the spatula, scraped the icing, and stirred. (Three parts to this compound verb = comma.)

Use Commas Before (NOT After) Conjunctions

Conjunctions are those tiny words that join other words or sentences or clauses together. (“Or” is the conjunction in that last sentence, you see?)

When using conjunctions, the comma comes first. It doesn't come after. I've actually seen this error multiple times:

  • INCORRECT: She took a nap and, then made a sandwich.
  • CORRECT: She took a nap, and then made a sandwich.

If you're using a conjunction, put the comma before. 99% of the time, you'll be right.

Use Commas After Conditional Clauses

A conditional clause presents a hypothesis or presents a condition which defines the rest of the sentence. For example:

  • When she gets here, we'll go to the store. (Conditional: WHEN she gets here, THEN we'll go.)
  • If he agrees, we'll have steak for dinner. (Conditional: IF he agrees, THEN we'll have steak for dinner.)

Use Commas to Introduce/Identify Spoken Dialogue

Quotation marks are what we use in English to indicate spoken word, as opposed to narrative voice or inner thought. Commas are needed to add dialogue tags (“he said,” etc.) and to connect the words to their speaker. For example:

  • “I like her voice,” he said. (The statement between quotation marks is complete, but we don't use a period because “he said” has to be attached to it to identify the speaker.)
  • I said, “Are you out of your mind?” (Again, between the quotation marks, the sentence is complete, but we need the comma after “I said” to link the words to the speaker.)

The only exceptions for this are when a different punctuation mark is required inside the quotation marks and the dialogue tag still comes after the statement. For example, if someone asks a question:

  • “Do you like her voice?” he said. (Note that “he” is lowercase, even though there's no comma.)
  • I said, “Can you turn that down?” (The quotation mark is attached to the statement inside the quotation marks, but the dialogue tag still requires a comma when the tag comes before the statement.)

Just remember: a dialogue tag generally requires a comma. If the tag comes before the quotation marks, a comma is always required. If it comes after, the dialogue tag is almost always lowercase.

Use Commas on Both Sides of An Interruption

Commas are used to set off an interruption in the sentence. FYI, it's crucial to remember to close that interruption with a second comma. For example:

  • The challenge, in the final analysis, was finding a way out of the tunnel. (“in the final analysis” is an interruption. You could actually remove it without changing the sentence's meaning.)
  • Jackie, of course, had a different opinion. (“of course” is an interruption. It lends personality and flavor to the sentence, but could be removed without changing the meaning.)
  • My cats, without question, are the cutest in the world. (“without question” is an interruption and can be removed.)

When Not to Use Commas

Don't Use Commas Between Subject and Predicate

The subject is the primary subject of the sentence (hence the name). The predicate is what the subject does, what's done to the subject, or some identifying detail about the subject. There should be no comma between them. Why? So the reader sees they're linked (remember, a comma divides).

  • INCORRECT: The car, was fast. (“The car” is the subject; “was fast” is the predicate.)
  • CORRECT: The car was fast.
  • INCORRECT: Phoenix, is warm in the summer. (“Phoenix” is the subject, and “is warm” is the predicate.)
  • CORRECT: Phoenix is warm in the summer.

This only gets complicated when you have multiple subjects, but even then, as long as you apply the “three or more” rule, you'll be fine. For example:

  • Tom and Harry went to the store. (Multiple subjects, but only two—thus, no comma.)
  • Tom, Harry, and Jane went to the store. (Three subjects require a comma.)

Don't Use Commas With Subordinate Clauses

You may recall that commas are required between clauses—that is, between complete subject-predicate sentences. That means if you have a subordinate clause (a sentence snippet that isn't complete), you do NOT need a comma.

If you want to use a comma between clauses, ask yourself this question: is there a subject and predicate on both sides?

A few examples:

  • CORRECT: He stepped into the room to explain his side.
  • INCORRECT: He stepped into the room, to explain his side. (“to explain his side” is not a complete clause, so no comma is required.)
  • CORRECT: Tony likes carrot-cake because it makes him happy.
  • INCORRECT: Tony likes carrot-cake, because it makes him happy. (“because it makes him happy” is a sentence fragment.)
  • CORRECT: Sandra sings the blues with great passion.
  • INCORRECT: Sandra sings the blues, with great passion. (“with great passion” can't stand on its own.)

If this is confusing, I suggest you study sentence fragments. Once you learn what they are and how they work, you'll spot them, and you'll be able to avoid putting a comma anywhere near those things.

Don't Use a Comma Between Two Clauses WITHOUT a Conjunction

This is called a comma splice, and it's the bane of editors everywhere. Remember how a complete clause has both a subject and a predicate? Complete clauses require either a full stop between them or a conjunction to join them together. Without a conjunction, you have a run-on sentence, also called a comma splice:

  • INCORRECT: Talia worked hard, her dinner tasted great. (Talia and dinner are both subjects; worked hard and tasted great are both predicates. Those are two complete sentences.)
  • CORRECT: Talia worked hard, and her dinner tasted great.
  • ALSO CORRECT: Talia worked hard. Her dinner tasted great.
  • ALSO CORRECT: Talia worked hard; her dinner tasted great.

If a clause can stand on its own, it's a complete sentence. If that clause is complete, don't join it to another one without a comma.

  • INCORRECT: Joe picked the clover, he couldn't believe it had four leaves.
  • CORRECT: Joe picked the clover. He couldn't believe it had four leaves.
  • INCORRECT: Marston sheathed his sword, he knew the enemy would return.
  • CORRECT: Marston sheathed his sword for he knew the enemy would return.

Final Thoughts on Commas

This can all seem pretty confusing if you've never encountered these rules before. Subject, predicate, clause… I keep using crazy words like that, but for a reason. These are all identified parts of speech, and knowing how they work is crucial to clear communication. If you want your readers to believe you know what you're doing, learn to use the comma. It will give your readers confidence in your writing, and will ensure your editor's good will.

Quick tip: A great way to learn comma usage is to READ A LOT. Go to your library and sign up. Prefer e-books? Still sign up at your library, then use Overdrive to get e-books right on your reader. The more you read, the more you'll learn. Read with your thinking cap on, and before you know it, you'll be writing like a pro.

Do you ever run into trouble using commas? Let me know in the comments!

PRACTICE

We all struggle with comma-usage (yes, even me). For the next fifteen minutes, write the next part of your WIP (or use one of these writing prompts) and try to use several types of commas (in a list, with conjunctions, etc.) correctly. It can be messy; we're not looking for polished drafts here! Just do your best and post it in the comments. Don't forget to spot-check three other people's work, as well!

Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.

Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.

When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.

P.S. Red is still her favorite color.

100 Day Book Cover

Closes in . . .

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Want to Write a Book?

100 Day Book Starts Soon: Sign up for our proven program, 100 Day Book, and get the coaching, training, and accountability you need to finally become and author and finish your book. The program closes soon though, so sign up now.

41 Comments

  1. Gary G Little

    Commas, commas everywhere and not a splice to be seen … 🙂

    Sorry, just had to do that. I had to restore my iPad when I got to Starbucks this morning and not many of my writing tools are working.

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Haha! 🙂 I hope there are no splices (apart from the intentional ones, that is)!

      I hope your iPad recovers!

      Reply
  2. Annie

    The darkness closed in around me, making me feel exceedingly claustrophobic. My eyes were sealed shut in an attempt to keep out the shadows. With shaking hands, I reached forward in hopes of locating the exit. Instead, I was greeted by emptiness and another cool breeze from God only knows where. I stumbled deeper into the blackness, my hands groping for something solid to hold on to. Some object on the stone floor caused me to trip and fall, skinning the heels of my hands. Wiping the blood on my ripped jeans, I stood back up and continued my search for a way out. I had no idea where I was, only that I was not supposed to be here and there was no clear way out. A shout from somewhere nearby shocked some sense back into me. I was on the run and needed to stay undetected. My blood and sweat stained hands curled into fists, my body tensed up, and I began to run for my life.

    It seemed that, lately, I had been getting in predicaments like this quite frequently. Most of the reason for this was that I had been butting heads with some authority figures as of late. And then I would try to run from my problems, only to be greeted by another set of equally difficult problems to get out of. Everything would have been much easier if I could teleport with better accuracy. Then, I would be able to choose where I appeared, instead of being plopped in some random cave in the middle of nowhere or a densely populated city. Although I was not technically supposed to have my teleportation license until my next birthday, I was not one to wait another whole year to try something as cool as teleporting. I’m twenty years old, after all, what could go wrong? Well, if you want to know what could go wrong, let me tell you. A lot of things, including, but not limited to, injuries, capture, hair loss, getting lost at sea, and you can’t forget the vicious dog attacks.

    I’ve never been the most coordinated of people, but I was more than willing to try out teleporting, mostly hoping that I would be better at it than I was at pretty much any other thing I’ve ever tried. So when I arrived back in my hometown, not my home, as I’d missed that mark by about a mile, with knees scraped and head full of anxiety, I was at the end of my rope. Literally and metaphorically. Somehow I had managed to end up swinging from a cliff, my only lifeline being an increasingly fraying rope. I don’t have any special talents, interests, or anything else that makes me different from everyone else and I thought that becoming an expert teleported at such a young age would be a great way to stand out. It turns out that the only thing teleporting is good for is getting me into life-threatening situations. At this point, I’m starting to think that I wasn’t meant to do anything remotely athletic or anything that involves skill for that matter.

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Annie, this is great! It’s an excellent sample; not only is it interesting and character-driven, but you’ve used commas really well. I hope this is a story you intend to write. 🙂

      I spotted just a few things I might do differently:

      – It seemed that, lately, I had been getting in predicaments like this quite frequently.

      I’d avoid using “lately” and “frequently” in the same sentence; it feels just a little redundant, even though the words aren’t synonyms.

      – I’m twenty years old, after all, what could go wrong?

      This one actually is a run-on. 🙂 You’d need a semi-colon or period after “after all.”

      – So when I arrived back in my hometown, not my home, as I’d missed that mark by about a mile, with knees scraped and head full of anxiety, I was at the end of my rope.

      This is technically correct, but long enough that I think the reader needs a little visual break to understand it without re-reading. I’d suggest swapping a couple of commas out for em-dashes. Example: “So when I arrived back in my hometown—not my home, as I’d missed that mark by about a mile—with knees scraped and head full of anxiety, I was at the end of my rope.”

      – Somehow I had managed to end up swinging from a cliff, my only lifeline being an increasingly fraying rope.

      Snip “being,” and I think you’ll find this sentence flows beautifully.

      – I thought that becoming an expert teleported at such a young age would be a great way to stand out.

      Teleporter, I believe. 🙂

      Anne, this is really great. I’m just delighted with this; please keep working on it! It feels like something that could really delight readers.

      Reply
  3. Tim Olson

    Very helpful, Ruthanne. Thank you. I do have a question concerning commas with lists of three or more. Ever since childhood I was taught not to use a comma after the word before the “and.” The sentence would be, I can go to the store for milk, eggs and bread. Lately I have been seeing it with the comma as you wrote it. What do you say to that?

    Reply
    • Lori Paradis

      The Oxford comma is the last comma in the list as the example Ruthanne gave above.

      I can go to the store for milk, eggs, and bread. (this example uses the Oxford comma)

      To not use the final comma is called AP style and this is generally only used by newspaper reporters.

      I can go to the store for milk, eggs and bread. (AP style used)

      The main reason the Oxford comma is taught today is that it provides clarity.

      I love my sisters, Anne Hathaway and Emma Watson.

      The example above kinda sounds like my sisters are Anne Hathaway and Emma Watson but really I’m just trying to say I love all three. The Oxford comma clarify a this.

      I love my sisters, Anne Hathoway, and Emma Watson.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Tim Olson

        The Oxford/AP explanation helps. Thanks. Ken’s answer is interesting, too, as omitting the comma before ‘and’ is apparently the preferred way today in England. Sounds as if either will get by but be sure to use the comma if clarity is needed.

        Reply
        • Ruthanne Reid

          Great responses, everyone! Basically, here’s the wise way to go about it: know what the rules are. Then, when you break them for style or emphasis, you know what you’re doing, and your omission of a comma adds to clarity, rather than erases it. 🙂

          Reply
    • Ken

      I think we were taught in the older English to write, “milk, eggs, and bread” but in more modern English, the comma before ‘and’ is omitted.

      The Americans have not adopted the newer English, so perhaps the presence of the comma may be American English (or non-academic English — English written in the old way), but some English writers follow the old English style of punctuation.

      Reply
      • Ruthanne Reid

        Hi, Ken! The Oxford comma is what you’re thinking about. 🙂 While some folks do often skip that last comma, it’s a bad idea to do so because grammatically, it links the last two items in a way that’s different from the rest of the list.

        I could say, “I love cats, cookies and cream,” and that would grammatically mean that the cats are somehow called cookies and cream. However, if I said, “I love cats, cookies, and cream,” then I’ve listed three separate items. Does that help? 🙂

        Reply
        • Ken

          Yes, Ruthanne, it is very helpful.

          You might say, ‘I am arrogant, pig-headed, and thoughtless’, but in reality I like to say what I think, hoping another will enlighten me if I am wrong. You have indeed enlightened me. Thank you.

          (The main purpose of the above was to show off commas in lists 🙂

          Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Hi, Tim! It looks like Lori answered exactly what I would have said. 🙂 To give you an actual example of why that clarity is important, here’s one of my favorite online sentences:

      I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

      That grammatically means your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty because it turns the last two nouns into a compound.

      However:

      I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.

      Now, it’s a list, and the reader knows all three are separate. 🙂 Oxford comma is the way to go!

      Reply
  4. Heather

    Same question as Tim. Commas in lists please. Also, what about commas with the word “but” or “yet”. E.g., Yet, it seemed like. . . or He wanted to go but his mother stopped him. Final question: the word “which”. E.g., He stopped to buy milk, which explained why he was late. Great article by the way.

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Hi, Heather! Lori answered the question already below really well, but I’ll add what I said to Tim. The extra comma is called an Oxford comma, and it’s there for clarity’s sake. Here’s why.

      I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

      That grammatically means your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty because it turns the last two nouns into a compound!

      However:

      I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.

      Now, it’s a list, and the reader knows all three are separate. 🙂 Oxford comma is the way to go! Now, as for your other question:

      But is a conjunction. If it’s in the middle of a sentence, it requires a comma beforehand because it’s joining two clauses. “He wanted to go, but his mother stopped him.” He wanted to go is a complete clause; his mother stopped him is a complete clause. 🙂 That’s why you need the comma with the conjunction “but.”

      When you put it at the beginning of a sentence, it’s actually what’s called an interjection, which is similar to an introductory or conditional clause. When it’s at the beginning of a sentence, it’s exactly how you wrote it: with a comma after. (Though sometimes, you can skip it.)

      “Yet, it seemed like” is fine. Interjections are also like, “Oh, I don’t think so,” or, “Gosh, what’s wrong here?”

      The “which” you use actually acts as a conjunction, too, but in the position of a pronoun; it’s taking the place of the entire first sentence. “He stopped to buy milk.” “That’s why/ which is why he was late.” In other words, “which” replaces repeating the whole sentence. “He stopped to buy milk. He was late because he stopped to buy milk.” Does this help? If I made it more confusing, please just let me know. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Ken

    I found this post very interesting. I tend to use commas so my writing looks like I’ve been spraying flies. (I hesitated on ‘so my …’.) Or I omit them.
    I think there are various opinions on punctuation, though. However, the rules you gave seem sensible to me.
    Thank you for the valuable article.

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      I’m glad to hear it, Ken! There are many opinions on punctuation, and often authors make stylistic choices regarding comma usage. However, as long as you KNOW you’re breaking rules, then you’ll be changing things for clarity’s sake. 🙂 If you don’t know the rules, then it’s hard to establish credibility.

      Reply
      • Ken

        A great response, Ruthanne: first learn to do it right, then do it wrong — according to the artistic needs.

        Reply
        • Ruthanne Reid

          Exactly. 🙂 Beethoven did it! It worked pretty well for him. 😉

          Reply
  6. Nancy

    She took a nap, and then made a sandwich.

    The comma in the above sentence lies between the two verb phrases of a compound predicate. There should be no comma.

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      That’s a good point, Nancy! It definitely could be viewed that way. Thanks for your feedback!

      Reply
      • Mary Daniels Brown

        I was going to make the same remark, but Nancy beat me to it. However, this is not a question of “could be viewed that way.” The example “CORRECT: She took a nap, and then made a sandwich” is just plain wrong. This is a compound verb, and there’s no other way of seeing it.

        Reply
        • Ruthanne Reid

          Thanks for your feedback! I’m relying on resources such as https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/modulecomma.htm

          The example with the sandwich is a simple sentence with a compound verb without a comma. With a comma, however, it becomes a compound sentence with a compound verb and two independent clauses.

          From the site:

          —————–

          “However, we can make this sentence into a compound sentence by simply making the last verb part into an independent clause.

          “Joe read the book, and he saw the movie.”

          Now we have a “bona fide” compound sentence. The two independent clauses are separated by a comma and the word and.

          ————-

          I hope that clarifies! This sentence could literally go either way, but the addition of “and” is what makes it correct with the comma.

          Reply
  7. Stella

    Grandfathers were once boys. Once men with a twinkle in their eye. Once youths with big dreams for their future. To be a grandfather is to have led a life well-lived, at least from the evolutionary point of view. The biological imperative: reproduce. Grandfathers have succeeded.

    What would it be like to spend a day with your grandfather at the same age? Time machines haven’t been invented, but that’s what writers are for. Making the impossible happen.

    *
    The first thing I notice about him is the tattoo on the back of his hand. A silly thing to notice from a distance, I know – shouldn’t I have seen his stained singlet, or his already-thinning crop, or his unusual leanness instead? But as chance would have it, he was raising his hand to scratch his nose as I approached, and so the first thing I notice is that tattoo, a small blue anchor staining the back of his left hand. It’s the first clue I have that he isn’t quite like all the other trishaw riders lining up to peddle their services.

    ‘Going where?’ he asks in broken English as I approach. I am surprised and relieved that he speaks English; however fragmented, his English is still better than my Hokkien and Chinese.

    ‘Lau Pa Sat,’ I say. ‘Can or not?’

    He studies my face, as though determining how much he can make off this skinny girl. ‘Sixty cents.’

    I have guessed his intentions correctly, although we clearly have different estimates on my ability to pay. Still, I’m certainly not going to complain about being undercharged.

    I pass him the money and with some difficulty, climb into his cab. He settles his bum on the bicycle beside me, splays his hands on the handlebars. Again I notice that unusual tattoo, the one shaped like an anchor.

    I wish I knew where he got it. I wish I’d asked him before he died.

    *

    A few questions regarding comma use. I’m not sure if I used them correctly in these sentences:

    ‘To be a grandfather is to have led a life well-lived, at least from the evolutionary point of view.’ (Can’t match this sentence to any of the categories above on when to use or not use a comma.)

    ‘And so the first thing I notice is that tattoo, a small blue anchor staining the back of his left hand.’ (Should I use a colon instead? Will a comma do?)

    ‘He settles his bum on the bicycle beside me, splays his hands on the handlebars.’ (I know I could remove the comma and put ‘and’ there instead. But I prefer the rhythm of the comma, since adding it slows down the pace. What’s your view on breaking grammatical rules for art?)

    Thanks for the post! I’ve never actively considered my use of commas before.

    Reply
  8. Jason

    Matthew and Nikki dance together in the ballroom. He took the lead, and looked at other dancers on how they move.

    “Stop looking at the lady. I am the one who needs to be focus here,” she said.

    He stops looking. They dance again. But, she takes the lead now.

    Is it correct?

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Close! You’ve got a compound verb that doesn’t need a comma, actually. “He took the lead and looked at the other dancers” are part of one action and require no comma. 🙂 Other than that, you’ve done great!

      Reply
  9. Sarojini Pattayat

    “the more you read, the more you’ll learn”.
    I will follow your above inspiring advice madam. Thanks for the beautiful post.

    Reply
  10. Molly Frink

    Great summary of comma use! I have been teaching high school grammar for a couple of decades and am often drawn into discussions about these troublesome little marks. Just for the record, in the section on subordinate clauses, there is a lack of clauses. In the first example, “to explain his side” is an infinitive phrase; and in the third example, “with great passion” is a prepositional phrase. Otherwise, thanks for the teaching!

    Reply
    • Ruthanne Reid

      Thanks a ton, Molly! Very true; my only thought was to focus on the fact that they could not stand by themselves. You’ve got a great eye for editing. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Sophia Ojha

    Thank you so much for this wonderfully clarifying post. I am just a little confused by this instruction:

    “If a clause can stand on its own, it’s a complete sentence. If that clause is complete, don’t join it to another one without a comma.”

    Should this rather read:

    “If a clause can stand on its own, it’s a complete sentence. If that clause is complete, don’t join it to another one WITH a comma.”

    Thank you for further clarifying!

    Reply
    • EmFairley

      No, it is correct. They can be spliced WITH a comma, as long as there is a conjunction after the comma.

      Here’s my own example…
      I’ve got a banging headache, I will take some painkillers soon. (wrong)
      I’ve got a banging headache, but I will take some painkillers soon (right)
      I’ve got a banging headache. I will take some painkillers soon. (also right)

      Reply
      • Ruthanne Reid

        Em got it! Thanks for helping out. 🙂 And thanks for your question, Sophia!

        Reply
        • EmFairley

          You’re welcome Ruthanne. I started editing a manuscript yesterday, so this article is perfectly timed 🙂

          Reply
  12. Ruthanne Reid

    Haha! I hear you, LaCresha! 🙂 I’m proud of you!

    Reply
  13. Ken

    (A few days after my last post)
    To be honest, in the past I didn’t read grammar stuff, certainly not punctuation, thinking I either knew it or it wouldn’t be relevant.

    But I have realised that I don’t know about punctuation, or I do have something (a lot?) to learn.

    It is easier to see others’ faults than our own. I have found reading others’ work that sometimes something reads funny for some reason that isn’t obvious. It seems that sometimes this is (incorrect) punctuation.

    I knew I had a lot to learn, but I have learned I have a lot more to learn.

    Thank you for this great post.

    Reply
  14. Joyce Hague

    In your example, “Tony likes carrot-cake, because it makes him happy,” you say this is incorrect because the second half isn’t a complete sentence. Isn’t “because” a conjunction connecting two complete sentences? Please clarify.

    Reply
    • Gabrielle C.

      I’m no expert but using the comma just doesn’t seem appropriate there or at all on that sentence, there’s just no need for it. I too was a bit confused until l looked it over, besides it said 99% of times. I guess Tony was the 1%.

      Reply
  15. Judith Vander Wege

    This was a very clear, helpful article. It is a good review of commas. I do think you meant “question” in the paragraph about dialogue instead of “quotation”?

    Reply
  16. Andressa Andrade

    I absolutely loved this post, Ruthanne! English is not my first language and I often get confused with its punctuation rules. They are only slightly different from the Portuguese ones but that “slightly” part is enough to get me extremely confused. Thank you for all the tips. I will save this post for future reference and keep on practicing!

    Reply
  17. Yiro Abari High

    I have never read anything about commas that’s as convincing as this.

    Reply
  18. Jasmine Jobe

    Terrific! I’ve read several posts about comma usage and this is my favorite so far. Cheers! – Jobe

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Best Writing Practice: Why You Need to Practice Differently | Creative Writing - […] stop waiting for someone else to point out that you don’t know how to use commas—go research how to…
  2. How to Edit a Novel: The Foolproof 9-Step Book Editing Process – Books, Literature & Writing - […] a proofreader is the person you want if you don’t know the difference between a comma and a semicolon.…
  3. How will you utilize the strategy from this post? - […] a proofreader is the person you want if you don’t know the difference between a comma and a semicolon.…
  4. Cailyn Lloyd on How to Get Great Feedback From Beta Readers and Editors - […] a proofreader is the person you want if you don’t know the difference between a comma and a semicolon. (Or if you can’t spell…
  5. Cailyn Lloyd on How to Get Great Feedback From Beta Readers and Editors – Top News Rocket - […] a proofreader is the person you want if you don’t know the difference between a comma and a semicolon. (Or if you can’t spell…
  6. Cailyn Lloyd on How to Get Great Feedback From Beta Readers and Editors – SBL - […] a proofreader is the person you want if you don’t know the difference between a comma and a semicolon. (Or if you can’t spell…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

26
Share to...