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Common Uses of Commas

Here are the four most common uses of commas:

1. Use a comma before the conjunction in a compound sentence. A compound sentence is made up of two complete sentences, with a conjunction (and, but, or, yet) between them.

I like ice cream, and Bob likes cake.

Commas can be very confusing, but I need to learn to use them correctly.

Carol and Harvey are my two best friends, but I do not see them as often as I would like because we live so far apart.


2. If you start a sentence with an introductory phrase or clause, put a comma after it. These introductory phrases often start with words like when, because, before, if, and as.

Because I like ice cream, I want to eat it every day.

After you have more practice using, commas, you will be more comfortable with them.

Even though they never win the Super Bowl, and in spite of the problems with their coaches, the Oilers are my favorite football team.


3. If you include extra information within your sentence, be sure to put commas around it. These extra phrases often start with words like which or who. Notice that you should be able to remove that extra phrase from of the sentence, without destroying the sentence.

Ice cream, which is my favorite food, is too fattening. (Notice that you can remove the extra phrase, and the sentence still makes sense: Ice cream is too fattening.)

Commas, though important, are very confusing. (Or: Commas are very confusing.)

It seemed like the winter of 1993-94, with all its ice, snow, and wind, was never going to end. (Or: It seemed like the winter of 1993-94 was never going to end.)


4. Use commas to separate items in a list of three or more.

My favorite ice cream flavors are vanilla bean, chocolate chip, and coffee.

Colons, semicolons, and quotation marks can be frustrating and annoying.

After we explored Germany, admired Luxembourg, and fell in love with Prague, we were ready to come back to America, eat some "real food," and relax.




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