Commas Three Ways

March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Most of us have been taught to “place the comma where you would naturally take a breath.” I’ve called it “the rule of flow” because most students tell me the reason for placing commas in some places and not others is because “it flows.” Reading aloud is definitely a good test for clarity and “flow” in all writing, but what about when you’re not sure? Here are three common uses for commas:

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imageEnclose parenthetic expressions between commas.

Like when suggesting a coffee shop you might say:

The best place to go for coffee, in case you’re ever on the North Shore, is Honey Donuts.


imageUse a comma when using a conjunction (like ‘and’ or ‘but’) to introduce an independent clause (ie. a complete sentence). 

Like after you celebrate your birthday you would say:

I’m getting too old for parties, but it was worth staying up all night long. 

(with a comma because “it was worth staying up all night long” is a complete sentence)

OR you might say:

I’m getting too old for parties and am feeling it today. 

(no common because “am feeling it today” is NOT a complete sentence)

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 In a list of 3+, place a comma after each item except for the last (aka. the “Oxford” or “Serial” Comma).

We painted the house white, grey, and pink. 

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