© Nani, 2013

31. When Do I Use Commas?

Commas are an important yet easily abused element of writing. They show your reader the relative importance of certain elements in your text. They can introduce, divide, or conclude sections, serving as visual signposts and instructing your reader when to "shift mental gears" within a sentence. Used well, they enhance the readability of your writing. Mishandled, they create confusion.

I offer here seven of the most common rules of usage regarding the comma.

A. To join independent clauses into compound sentences
B. To join introductory clauses, phrases, or subordinate clauses that come before the main sentence
C. In serial lists containing three or more subjects, phrases, or clauses
D. In places, titles, and dates
E. In parenthetical or non-essential elements of a sentence
F. To coordinate adjectives
G. Before dialogue introduced by quotations


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