Use of Comma in the English Language

A comma is a smaller break or a  soft pause or a punctuation mark that separates words, clauses, or ideas within a sentence.

Commas and periods are the most frequently used punctuation marks. Proper comma usage is very important for writing correct English.

Following are the common rules for the usage of comma along with examples of usage.

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Commas follow “Yes” or “No” at the beginning of a short response.

Did you read today? Yes, I did.

Comma Between Coordinate Adjectives

When multiple adjectives modify a noun to an equal degree, they are said to be coordinate and should be separated by commas.

That man is a pompous, self-righteous, annoying idiot.

If the adjectives are not coordinate, don’t separate them with a comma.

The adorable little boy was eating ice cream.

Use a comma between two adjectives that modify the same noun.

He is a hardworking, intelligent person.

Use a comma after introductory adverbs.

“Finally, we reached home.”

When two or more adjectives precede a noun, comma’s are not necessary.

A cold dry day.

Use a comma before any coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet) that links two independent clauses.

I know him, and he knows me.

Use a comma to offset negation in a sentence.

I saw a dog, not a cat, when I reached home.

Use a comma to enclose degrees or titles used with names.

Ahmed Khan, M.D., is here.

Use a comma to separate each element in an address.

I live in Gulberg, Lahore, Punjab.


Commas in Dates

When writing a date in month-day-year format, set off the year with commas.

July 4, 1776, was an important day in American history.
He was born on Sunday, May 12, 1968.

When using the day-month-year format, however, commas are unnecessary.

Applications are due by 31 December 2016.

When referencing a day of the week and a date, use a comma.

On Tuesday, April 13, at three o’clock, there will be a meeting for all staff.
Please join us on Saturday, June 14, 2010, for the marriage of our son.

When referencing only a month and year, don’t use a comma.

The region experienced record rainfall in March 1999.

When a list that contains more than two elements, use commas to separate them.

She loves ice cream, books, and parks.

Commas separate three or more sentence parts in a series of actions when the same subject is used.

There is only one subject here (he) and three verbs in a series.

He catches the ball, turns to shoot, and scores the game-winning basket.

Use a comma when attributing quotes.

He said, “Are you okay?”

In American English, commas always go before closing quotation marks. In British English, however, put the comma after the closing quotation mark.
“Pass me that book,” said my brother.

If a quoted question ends in midsentence, the question mark replaces a comma.

“Will you still be my friend?” she asked.


Commas separate numbers into groups of thousands NOT periods as in other languages.

The population of Pakistan exceeded beyond 207,000,000 people in 2017.

Use a comma when directly addressing someone or something in a sentence.

“You know, Mr. Ali, we were together a year ago.”

Commas precede question tags.

You are not Asian, are you?

Commas not exclamation marks, are placed after a mild exclamation, such as “oh” or “well.”

Well, let’s go.

“Oh, it that so?”

Commas are used to set off an apposition. Both commas need to be included.

Dr. Johnson and his friend, Dr. Wright, went fishing together.

The words: hence, therefore, for example, for instance, consequently, as it were, moreover, on the other hand, on the contrary, in the first place, etc., are usually placed between commas.

Use a comma after a dependent clause that starts a sentence.

When the house is ready, I’ll let you know.

Use commas to offset appositives from the rest of the sentence.

Appositives act as synonyms for a juxtaposed word or phrase. For example, “While running, I saw a mallard, a kind of duck.” “A kind of duck” is the appositive, which gives more information about “a mallard.”

Non-defining clauses are always set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

Jarl, who came from Iceland a year ago, is the best student in the class.

Use a comma to separate a conditional clause coming at the beginning of a sentence is now considered optional.

If it rains, (optional) the match will be canceled.


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