Learn Proper Comma Usage

Proper comma usage need not be that difficult to learn.

As with most grammar items, learners benefit from good instruction and then, plenty of practice.

Obviously, good instruction isn't usually the problem. Problems generally arise from a lack of practice.

What follows is designed to help you to use the comma properly.

Read through the following common comma usage examples noticing the samples that follow.

Commas follow “Yes” or “No” at the beginning of a short response.
Did you vote today? Yes, I did.

We use a comma between adjectives in a series.
He drives a large, black sedan.

When two or more adjectives precede a noun, comma's are not necessary.
A gloomy wet day.

In compound sentences before the connectors.
I know him, and he knows me.
This usage is becoming dated and some now consider it improper.

Commas separate street from city and city from state when no prepositions are used.
I live in Main Street, Lansing, Michigan.

Commas separate three or more sentence parts in a series of actions when the same subject is used.
He catches the ball, turns to shoot, and scores the game winning basket.
There is only one subject here (he) and three verbs in a series.

In a direct quotation, proper comma usage separates the introductory statement from the actual words of the speaker.
He said, “Is that Mr. Brown?”


Commas separate numbers into groups of thousands NOT periods as in other languages.
There are 200,000,000 Internet users in the United States.
When we directly address one person by name, the addressee’s name is separated by a comma or commas.
“You know, Mr. Lincoln, we met a year ago.”
Commas precede question tags
You are not Greek, 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.

After introductory adverbial phrases or clauses whenever there is a possibility of misreading.
When the house is ready for habitation, I'll let you know.

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.
Using a comma to separate a conditional clause coming at the beginning of a sentence is now considered optional.
If it rains, (optional) the show will be canceled.

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