Correct Comma Usage: When and How to Use Commas

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When writing English in a clear and professional manner, there are are 11 ways to use commas. This article will focus on how and when to use commas. In this article, I will attempt to avoid using grammar terms in order to make this article understandable to everyone.

Separating non-essential parts from the main part

Commas are often used to add a small piece of extra information to a sentence. Commas should be used in order to separate this extra information. This extra information is always something that is not needed but provides a little bit of extra information. This information can be an opinion inserted into the sentence as well. If you don’t use commas, you can often use parentheses instead.


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Separating starting phrases and words

In English, commas are used to separate any kind of opening phrases or words from the subject of a sentence. This helps to avoid confusion and keeps things clear and organized. The words used are often adverbs (something describing an action). These phrases or words include:

Time words (currently, finally, next, secondly etc.)

Attitude words (surprisingly, sadly, unfortunately, clearly etc.)

Sentence Connectors (therefore, furthermore, additionally etc.)


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Separating dependent parts of a sentence from the main parts

In many cases there are sentences that have a part which could not be used alone; there is another part to the sentence which gives the dependent part meaning. In these cases you should use a comma.

There are many different types of dependent sentence parts. Here is a short list of the most common categories:

Time (after, until, when, long ago etc.)

Place (where, wherever etc.)

Way of doing something (as, as if, by doing etc.)

Reason (because, due to, as a result etc.)

Condition (if, unless, then etc.)

Expressing some sort of purpose (in order to, for the reason of, for)

Comparison (although, on the other hand, in contrast etc.)


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Although there are many rules to using commas, there shouldn’t be a problem with using them correctly after practice.

Separating sentence parts that use “ing” when relating to results and when events are occurring at the same time


Commas are used when there is some sort of a result with and “ing” word. “ing” word examples are: swimming, skiing, thinking, doing, going. These can all be used in a part of a sentence that shows a result.


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Events Occurring at the Same Time

When you are writing a sentence that has more than one event occurring at the same time you should use a comma with an “ing” verb.


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Combing two sentences

When combining two complete sentences you can use a comma in order to combine them. There must be a combining word used in addition to the comma. Example words to combine sentences are: and, but, nor, yet, or, and so.


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Renaming something

Commas can be used to rename something in a sentence. This “something” has been previously mentioned in the sentence.


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Separating Items in a list

Commas are used in order to list items. However, there is a difference between British English and American English. British English usually does not use a comma before the last item when using “and” or “or”. In American English it is required.


This is a British example of a list that lists thing1, thing2, thing3 and thing4.

This is an American example of a list that lists thing1, thing2, thing3, and thing4

Using more than one adjective to describe something

You may often hear in English people use and when using more than one adjective for something; however, in written English this is not proper. You must separate the adjectives with commas.


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If you read this informative, helpful article, writing should not be an issue.

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