Comma Rules Made Simple

A few simplified comma rules for our readers. Add a comma–

  • after multi-word introductory comments: “When I was a child–”
  • after certain introductory words such as no & yes: “Yes, I am very interested in the job.”
  • before a quote: He said, “We have to finish today.”
  • to separate two interchangeable adjectives: “a serious, complicated situation”
  • in lists of three or more
  • to set off non-essential information
  • to separate a statement from a question tag: “That’s correct, isn’t it?”
  • with the word “which”
  • to separate the day of the month and the year: August 12, 2017
  • to separate a city from its state: Chicago, Illinois
  • to separate independent clauses (phrases that could be written as complete sentences)
  • with conjunctive adverbs such as however
  • And finally – The Oxford comma – also called the serial comma and the Harvard comma – is a subject of debate. In other words, there is no right or wrong usage rule, except that you must use it when it is needed to avoid confusion.
  • Beyond that, whether you use the Oxford comma is a matter of style – some style guides call for it and others don’t. Check your school or company style guide and punctuate your texts accordingly.

Would you like to improve your Business or Academic Writing now you know the comma rules? There’s so much to know! Contact us to learn about Private and In-Company Writing Courses.

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