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 kind of punctuation mark (,) that makes it easy to group the words or separate the clauses.

Why Do We Use a Comma?

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

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

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

When Do We Use Commas?

Usually, commas are used:

  1. in lists
  2. after some adverbs
  3. in direct speech
  4. to separate clauses
  5. before coordinating conjunctions
  6. after dependent clauses
  7. to offset non-restrictive structures
  8. to group adjectives
  9. to tell the date
  10. to address directly
  11. to use negation
  12. to tell numbers

Comma in Lists

When we want to list the nouns or items in a group, we use a comma. 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 using 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.

Comma and Coordinating Conjunctions

Before coordinating conjunctions that link two independent clauses, a comma is used. 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 to use a pause while speaking, this will help understand the context much better. For example:

He smiled, I didn't see him smiling before.

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

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

After a dependent clause, you should always use a comma. Here are the examples:

The important thing is, learn how to shoot in the basket.

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

Commas and Non-restrictive Structures

Non-restrictive structures are offset by commas, and they can easily be deleted from the sentences without harming their meaning or completion.

Sandy, the dog, ran toward Lucifer.

My uncle, who bought a new car last year, is my father's only brother.

Comma with Adjectives

When we want to use a list of adjectives to describe a person or thing, then we can use a comma between them. Remember, to do so, 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

Between the main parts of the date, we should use a comma. Here are the examples for more clarification:

April the first, 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 Negation

When a negative statement is used after 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 you are writing numbers, not in letters, you have to use a comma between every three numbers from the right. Here are the examples:



Comma with question tags

We use a comma when there is a statement followed up with a question.

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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