We all use commas in our writing; we know they’re essential: They separate parts of sentences into clear segments that aid in comprehensible reading. However, for most of us, placing commas becomes guesswork that uses up a significant part of the time we devote to writing.

Imagine writing without using any commas: Your sentences run on with no separation between subjects discussed; reading becomes a nightmare.

The use of comma in English writing is essential to distinguishing between the various phrases, marking a brief pause in the flow of our thoughts, and most importantly, makes our writing accurate, effective, and easy to read. The following guidelines will help you use commas correctly in your English writing. Use a comma:

(1) When you have more than three words, phrases, or clauses in a series. i.e., “Ben, John, and Sheryl took the bus.”

(2) To set off geographical places, i.e., “Miami, Florida”.

(3) After introductory clauses, phrases, or words that precede the main clause. Introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include: after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while. i.e., “While I was watching TV, the power suddenly cut off”.

(4) To separate independent clauses when they’re joined by any of the following words: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet. i.e., “The sun went down, yet the children kept playing outside.”

(5) When it will prevent confusion, i.e., Eats Shoots and Leaves vs. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

(6) Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off words, phrases, and clauses that are not crucial to the logic of the sentence, i.e., “My favorite sport, aside from basketball, is tennis”.

Use of comma to separate subjects from verbs, or between two verbs or verb phrases in a compound predicate must be avoided.

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Learn how an advanced online grammar check software can help you with the correct use of comma and with other punctuation rules.

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