A comma indicates a pause between the words, phrases, and clauses. In this lesson, we will all the rules about this punctuation mark.

What Is Comma in English?

What Is a Comma?

A comma is a punctuation mark that is used to separate words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence. Commas help to clarify the meaning of a sentence and make it easier to read by indicating where to pause or where there is a change in thought.

Comma: Uses

A comma is usually used to make a pause between words, phrases, or clauses. It can also be used to group words or to separate clauses. For instance:

They went through many things, illness, divorce, depression, etc.

Do not forget to buy oil, eggs, and vegetables.

In general, commas are used:

Comma in Lists

When we want to list some nouns or items in a group, we use a comma between them. Here are the examples:

I had soup, fish, pudding, and coffee for dinner.

I have invited Sam, Peter, and Diego.

Comma in Direct Speech

When reporting a direct speech, there is always a comma between the quoted speech and the introducing clause. Check the examples:

He said, "I am not going to kiss her."

"We will talk about it later," she replied.


Remember, when a comma meets a quotation mark, we should use it before the quotation mark. Here are the examples:

"We will win," they said.

"Read it please," she mumbled.

Using comma with non-restrictive structures

Comma and Coordinating Conjunctions

Before coordinating conjunctions that link two independent clauses, a comma is used to separate the two clauses. Here are the examples:

Neither I wanted to go out, nor I liked to stay home.

We started to run, and soon I felt frustrated.

Comma and Clauses

Sometimes there is a need for a pause in the sentence, this helps clarify the context. For example:

He smiled, I had not sees him smile before.

This is not finished, there is a lot to talk about.

Comma and Adverbs

When an adverb is used to modify a whole sentence or when it is used to start a sentence, you have to use a comma after it. Remember, the adverb has to apply to the whole sentence. Check out these examples:

Usually, I try to stay silent and listen more.

No, I would never cheat on you.

Comma and Dependent Clause

A dependent clause is always separated from the independent clause using a comma. Here are the examples:

Although it might be difficult at first, you will learn how to shoot in the basket.

When she arrives, I will take her to the club.

Commas and Non-restrictive Structures

Non-restrictive structures are offset by commas, and they can be removed from the sentence without affecting its meaning or completeness. For example:

Sandy, the dog, ran toward Lucifer.

My uncle, who lives nearby, is my father's only brother.

Comma with Adjectives

When we want to use a list of adjectives to describe a person or thing, we can use a comma between the adjectives. Remember, to do so, the adjectives have to be interchangeable. Here are the examples:

There was a big, fascinating, marvelous wedding there.

You are beautiful, nice, kind, and polite.

Comma with Dates

We use a comma between the main parts of dates. Here are the examples for more clarification:

April 1st, 1999, he was waiting at the station for her to come.

Saturday, May 15th, 2005, is the last thing I remember.

Comma with Titles

When we use honorific titles or names to address people directly, there is always a comma following them. Check out these examples:

Doctor, could you please be totally honest.

Professor, there is something I want to talk about it.

Comma with Negatives

When a negative statement follows a positive one, we have to use a comma between the two statements. Here are the examples:

It is a cat, not a bird.

Take the bananas, not the oranges.

Comma with Numbers

When writing numbers using digits (not letters), it is customary to use a comma to separate every three digits from the right, in order to make the number easier to read and understand. Here are the examples:



Comma with Question Tags

When a statement is followed by a question tag, we use a comma between them.

This is a pretty cool car, isn't it?

She was acting crazy, right?


There are occasions in which you have to use a comma such as:

  • in lists
  • after some adverbs
  • in direct speech
  • to separate clauses
  • before coordinating conjunctions
  • after dependent clause
  • to offset non-restrictive structures
  • to group adjectives
  • to tell the date
  • to address directly
  • to use negation
  • to tell numbers


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