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What is the Use of Commas (,): Meaning, Rules, & Examples [with PDF]

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use-of-commas

Use of Commas: Comma is probably the most commonly used punctuation mark in English grammar. It is compared with a full stop sometimes. But, the full stop (.) is mainly used to indicate that the sentence has ended, while the comma symbols denote the sentence is in continuation. Given that the comma rules are quite easy, it is simple to understand if studied properly. Infact, learning the usage of commas is a must to create better sentences. 

Therefore this blog focuses on highlighting the comma meaning, and rules of usage, along with examples to make your sentences grammatically correct.

What is Comma? – Meaning and Definition

A comma in a sentence is a kind of punctuation mark that is mainly used for the separation of phrases, clauses, ideas or words. It mainly represents several listicle objects in a line by putting the Punctuation mark (,) after each object. In this way, it presents a small break in a given sentence as per the requirement.

comma definition and examples

Common Uses of Comma 

There are lots of uses of commas in English and understanding where to put the Commas correctly is necessary. Some of the points are mentioned below about the use of commas for your reference: 

  • Creating a connection between two independent clauses, having a coordinating conjunction.
  • Separation of three or more objects in a list.
  • Separation of introductory phrases, nonessential appositives, question tags, and non-restrictive relative clauses.
  • For separating parts of dates and different locations such as a city or a country. 
  • Keeping apart attributive tags and quotations, parenthetical elements, and interrupters.
Credit: Periwinkle

Uses of Comma in English Grammar

The comma is grammatically used in so many sentences as per the rules applied. It depends on how the structure of the sentence is formed and using the punctuation mark wherever necessary. Here, we will understand the use usage of commas grammatically. 

Commas with Lists

  • If there are two or more objects in a list use the commas for separating them. The list can contain adjectives, verbs, or clauses. For Example:- Jenny loves books, kittens, and ice cream.
  • The chores are also separated by using the commas differently. Suppose, if three different chores are given then they can be arranged as in the following example. She cleaned the carpet, played with the children, and washed the clothes.

Usage of Commas with Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions that connect independent clauses should consist of a comma before and if it has a link with something else then there is no need for a comma. The comma will also come if the word ‘but’ is immediately coming after the interrupting phrase, such as any idiom or aside.

Examples

  • I like eating junk food, but I am having stomach pain.
  • The shop was closed. But, if I remember right, I saw Luke inside.

The sentence above consists of an interrupting phrase, coming immediately after ‘but’ so separate it by putting a comma.

Also Read: Adjective Clause Examples

Serial Comma (Oxford Comma)

If there is a listing of three or more elements commas must separate all of them while the comma that comes after ‘and’ is optional and is called a Serial Comma(or Oxford Comma). In the end, it is the choice of the writer if they want to use this comma. Some newspapers do not use this comma but some trade books use it.

Examples

  • The chef needs milk, ice, and eggs from the refrigerator. (with serial comma)
  • The chef needs milk, ice and eggs from the refrigerator (without serial comma)

Commas with Relative Clauses

A non-restrictive clause offers additional information about something that is already given in the sentence. However, the information is not required to identify the thing that is discussed. These clauses are normally introduced by ‘who’ or ‘which’ and must be set out by commas.

Examples 

  • Golden Years, which Tom recommended, is a good restaurant.
  • My uncle, whom I love dearly, is a brilliant scientist.

A restrictive clause adds information that is required for the identification of things it is referring to. They are frequently introduced by ‘who’ or ‘that’ and should not be set out by commas.

Usage of Commas with coordinate adjectives

When several adjectives provide a change in noun to a similar degree, they are called coordinates and need to be separated by commas. Another way to identify is by switching the sequence of adjectives and after that, if the sentence stays natural it is coordinate adjectives. 

Examples

Sentence 1Sentence 2
(Switching the Sequence)
The man is a self-centred, imperious, annoying idiot.The man is an imperious, annoying idiot and self-centred.
The sweet, dazzling aroma of cookies filled the kitchenThe dazzling, sweet aroma of cookies filled the kitchen

If there is a usage of multiple adjectives but they are not coordinated and have a close relation with the noun to be modified then other. In this case, if the order is changed don’t separate them with commas as they sound unusual.

Examples

  • Wrong – The cute, little boy was drinking milk.
  • Wrong – The little, cute boy was drinking milk.
  • Correct – The cute little boy was drinking milk.

How to Use Commas with appositives?

An appositive is a noun phrase or noun that indicates a similar thing to the other noun in the sentence. The appositive normally gives extra information about nouns or supports to differentiate in a way. If the appositive is removed without having the change in the sentence meaning, it is called a non-essential and should be set out with commas. If there is a requirement for appositive, it is to be essential and must be not set out with commas.

Essential appositives

  • Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” is a classic.
  • Philip Marlowe is one of literature’s greatest spies.

Non-Essential appositives

  • My friend, Matthews, is a wonderful chef.
  • The painter, one of the town’s most influential young artists, began displaying his work in art galleries.

Download Uses of Commas PDF

Read more about the uses of commas in the following punctuation mark pdf for future reference:

Examples of Comma in Sentences

Putting a comma in a sentence requires a proper understanding so that it can be put in a suitable place. The punctuation use of commas is to separate phrases, clauses, or words in a sentence. Here, are some examples of uses of commas in a sentence

  1. I love coffee, but my sister prefers tea.
  2. Trevor made noodles, pasta, and sandwiches for his friends.
  3. In the starting, there was darkness.
  4. Lewis travelled to France, Italy, and Germany.
  5. The big, red monster stared down at me.
  6. We bought tomatoes, apples, and cherries today. 
  7. The instructor looked through his desk, through his bag, and around the room for the lost book. 
  8. Alexander Pope, the Restoration poet, is famous for his monologues. 
  9. The Kansas City, the underdogs, surprised everyone by winning the Super Bowl.
  10. Sandra Belinsky, MD, has been appointed to the board.

Commas Exercise for Practise

Instruction: Put the commas wherever necessary in the following sentences: 

  1. Oil which is lighter than water rises to the surface.
  2. August 15 1947 will never be forgotten.
  3. He replied “i have no idea about the lost book.”
  4. Running around the garden the dog was abruptly stopped by a fence.
  5. There was no doubt that John’s painting a big colorful and ugly mural was the worst entry in the art exhibition.
  1. Oil, which is lighter than water rises to the surface.
  2. August 15, 1947, will never be forgotten.
  3. He replied, “I have no idea about the lost book.”
  4. Running around the garden, the dog was abruptly stopped by a fence.
  5. There was no doubt that John’s painting, a big, colourful, and ugly mural, was the worst entry in the art exhibition.

FAQs

Why are commas used?

The commas are mainly used to separate phrases, words, or ideas in a given sentence.

How to correctly use the comma?

A comma can be correctly used to divide the list of objects given. They can be used to divide independent clauses when they are put together with any of the coordinating conjunctions.

How to use commas with ‘than’?

While making comparisons there is no need to use commas before ‘than’. For example:- The colour is lighter than that colour, You are taller than him, etc.

What is a Serial Comma?

A serial Comma(or Oxford Comma) is a type of Comma that comes before ‘and’. The comma is optional and used when three or more items are given. For example:- The man holds the flower, pencil, and bottle in his hand.

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This was all about the different Rules of Commas, their usage and more. Hope you understand the concept and know how to proceed. You can also follow the page of  in Learn English of Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs. 

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