Punctuation: Commas

A comma is most commonly used for separating three or more words, clauses, or phrases. For example: “I need to go buy bread, milk, and eggs.” Notice how the three items are separated by commas and and is used right before the last item.

Another way a comma can be used is in between adjectives. Another example: “I loved the way her long, dark, brown hair looked today.” The comma replaces the word “or” and “and”, making it a condensed sentence.

A comma is used when addressing someone or when one answers with a yes or a no. For example: “Lisa, would you please take out the trash?” or “Yes, I can take out the trash.” “Do you think you will watch the game, Todd?” or “No, not unless the Colts are playing .”

If a phrase or clause breaks up a sentence or interrupts it you should place a comma there. Example: “I, after much consideration, have decided to retire early.” or ” Thomas, although hesitant, has gone over to his sister’s.”

A comma should be placed anytime a coordinating conjunction is in place. (Coordinating conjunctions are “and”, “or”, and “but”. An example of this would be “Jamie may work, but someone must pay the bills.” “Aaron has gone to the store, and is now low on gasoline.”

Use commas as a tool with embellishing phrases or clauses that add to the main idea of the sentence. “I live in Indiana, the Hoosier state” or ” I am trying not to travel very much, as gasoline prices are higher than normal.”

Don’t forget that commas should be used in dates and for addresses. “August 8, 1985 is when I left” or ” He is located at 1955 Wander Rd., Prospect Heights, Illinois 60070″

You should not have a problem writing if you stick to these basic comma rules. If you are not sure why you are placing a comma in the sentence you probably do not need it.