Where and when to use a comma correctly in a sentence?
We use comma when we link two or more ideas, statements or elements with linking words (and, or, or but) in a one sentence or in multiple sentences. Furthermore, commas have many other uses e.g. in dates, numbers, and we use it especially in official corresponding (letter writing) after salutation and closing.
Below are the main rules to use a comma correctly in a sentence.
Use of comma to split series of words
We use a comma in a sentence where there is a series of words or items. Remember always that a comma does not follow the last word or item in the series. We split last word by using ‘and’, ‘buy’, ‘or’ etc.
- I like oranges, bananas, mangoes, and grapes.
Use of comma before ‘and’
When we use ‘and’ in a sentence to joint a group of words, we usually don’t use comma but when there is necessary to clear the context, we use comma. See below examples to clear.
- Hira is taking an interest in English literature and painting. (Here painting mean English painting) (no comma)
- Hira is taking an interest in English literature, and painting in general. (Here painting mean not English painting but general painting). (use comma)
Use of comma in repeated/multiple subjects
When we use ‘and’ to join two classes with the same subject, we do not use a comma before ‘and’. When we use different subjects in two classes or repeat first subject, we use a comma before ‘and’. See examples below:
- Asif came home and turned on the fan. (no comma)
- I opened the gift pack, and Asif started clapping. (use comma)
Use of Comma with either/or and neither/nor
When we use either/or (neither/nor) to join single words, we don’t use comma, but when or/nor are used to join two clauses or sentences, we use comma. See examples below.
- Ali neither drinks nor smokes. (no comma)
- You must choose either red or blue. (no comma)
- My brother has no driving skills, nor has horse riding skills. (use comma)
Use of comma before ‘but’
Use comma before ‘but’ in a sentence
- The restaurant was good, but far from city. (use comma)
When a sentence is split into many parts by commas, then do not use a comma before but.
- Politely but firmly, Ali said that he wanted his pen back. (don’t use comma)
Use of comma before ‘for’, ‘as’ and ‘since’.
Always use comma before ‘for’, ‘as’, and ‘since’ when these words carry meaning of because. See examples below.
- Ali did not go out, since he had no raincoat. (here ‘since’ meaning because)
- We stayed at the hotel for night, for er were tired. (here ‘for’ meaning because)
Sentences that start with ‘as, or ‘since’ also use comma.
- As it as late, I hired a taxi.
- Since I had no car, I came by a ship.