Appropriate comma usage enables the reader to understand the writer's intentions.
Ex: When Eric called, John David came to the door.
Ex: When Eric called John, David came to the door.
Use commas before coordinating conjunctions that connect two independent clauses.
Ex: Minnie's son washed the car yesterday afternoon, and Callie's daughter waxed it the next morning.
Eliminate commas if either one of the independent clauses linked by a conjunction is extremely short.
Ex: We wanted to win but the other team had outstanding players.
Place commas after introductory phrases.
Ex: After the film, we'll discuss the director's key points.
Use commas after transition words at the beginnings of sentences.
Ex: Consequently, we came home early from the concert.
Use commas to separate items in a list.
Ex: The characters within the play included dragons, warriors, and maidens.
Place commas in dates, geographical names, and addresses.
Ex: Shelly signed the contract on Wednesday, March 24, 1999.
Ex: We drove all night from Mobile, Alabama, to Phoenix, Arizona.
Ex: Deliver the package to 402 Worth Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Place commas before the phrase "such as" rather than directly after it.
Ex: We wanted to eliminate negative behaviors, such as pessimism and jealousy, from developing within the work place.
Omit commas before coordinating conjunctions that do not link independent clauses.
Ex: We called the producers and arranged a meeting.
Omit commas that separate subjects from verbs.
Incorrect Ex: The owner of the car, called the repair shop for towing service.
Revised Ex: The owner of the car called the repair shop for towing service.
Use commas in sentences with non-restrictive (unnecessary) clauses.
Ex: Mr. Simpelt advised us to read the novel, which has 200 pages, very carefully to identify the character's point of view.
Use commas with appositives, which rename nouns, to indicate information that can be omitted without changing the meaning.
Ex: Chance, my boyfriend, will arrive at 2:00 p.m.
Avoid using commas with restrictive (essential) clauses.
Ex: My son Joseph has a wonderful sense of humor.
Place commas inside of quotation marks.
Ex: His accent reminds me of the "out back of Australia," which is where I'd like to be right now.
You can test your understanding of this handout by completing Student Success Center exercises available here.