The comma is one of the most common – and most often misused – marks of punctuation. And why is that?
It seems so very simple – and you can be seen as an excellent writer if you learn the comma rules and use them accurately.
First, the comma is a pause only – not a full stop, as we can describe the period. It’s only a partial stop – a slight pause – where you would take a breath if you were reading.
The comma is an important mark of punctuation, particularly when someone is reading aloud - so that you and your listeners can understand the meaning clearly.
Learning to read aloud clearly is another skill that one can learn – and in so doing, one will realize just how important these marks of punctuation truly are!
So, let’s look at a few Comma Rules and a few examples so that you can learn to use the comma properly. But first, you need a few definitions:
Nevertheless, if you begin a sentence with a clause, or a phrase, or a word, you must add a comma after it.
Place a comma after an introductory word, phrase, or clause.
Misuse of the comma
Often, the comma is misused because it is added at the end of a sentence. Instead, you need a period (a “full stop”) at the end of the sentence.
When you place a comma at the end of a sentence, and then keep going – that is called a comma splice. Click here for more information on the comma splice.
Words/phrases in a series
Place a comma after each word in a series.
is a controversy about the final comma. Some would omit the final
comma before “and.” As I am a purist, I prefer to include all the
Place a comma after each item in a series. Perhaps the series is made up of a phrases or similar groups of words. The comma is placed in the same manner.
In each of the following, the phrases begin with a verb:
Comma Rules for Clauses and Phrases
writing, add commas surrounding the non-essential (non-restrictive) clause or phrase.
When writing, do not add commas around the essential (restrictive) clauses or
For the next part, you need a few definitions – so here they are again.
Comma Rules - Definitions required
(a) Restrictive phrases or clauses.
Some phrases or clauses in a sentence are necessary for identification
and understanding. Those phrases or clauses would be “essential” or
“defining” or “restrictive.” All terms mean the same thing.
(b) Non-restrictive phrases or clauses. Some phrases or clauses in a sentence are not necessary for identification and understanding. Those phrases or clauses would be “non-essential” or “non-defining” or “non-restrictive.” All terms means the same thing.
What is the comma? Learning basic comma rules will be helpful!
The comma is a short pause and adds a great deal of “sense” and understanding to the sentence.
Each of the italicized phrases and clauses shown above are necessary for meaning in the sentences.
So, clearly the phrases and clauses are necessary to the meaning of the sentence. There are no commas. Each one is an essential clause or a restrictive clause or a defining clause. All terms may be used – and all have the same meaning.
However, what if we want to describe the woman, the house, and the book in another way – in a way that is not directly necessary for the identification? We would then write the optional phrases and clauses using commas.
The commas surround the information that is non-essential to the identification.
you use the commas correctly, you can remove the section between the
commas and not drastically change the meaning of the sentence. The
information that is surrounded by commas simply adds additional
unnecessary – but interesting – information.
If you read the sentence aloud – you will hear the pause at each comma – and you will hear how the commas are necessary - how the commas (the pauses) define the meaning of the sentence.
The commas must be used in pairs in such a case. Add the comma at the start and at the end of the phrase or clause for an accurate presentation.
If you work diligently, you can learn the Comma Rules and become an excellent and professional writer! Focus on success!
LINK - Return from Comma Rules to Comma Usage