How should commas be used?

  • Use commas to separate a series of three or more items, actions, words, or phrases.

    • I will need my backpack, computer, paper, and textbook for my next class.
    • Sharon walked across campus, entered the building, and went to class.
  • Use a comma between coordinating adjectives(closely placed adjectives that are of equal importance and describe the same thing).
    • thorough, accurate research
    • The talented musician performed a solemn, meditative piano piece.
  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (fanboys: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) when it joins two related independent clauses.
    • The young woman volunteered at a local homeless shelter, and she wrote a paper about the challenges of homelessness.
    • Are you going to attend the basketball game, or do you plan to spend time at the library?
  • Use a comma after an introductory element, such as a dependent clause or a prepositional phrase.
    • When it began to rain, many students opened their umbrellas.
    • Before dawn, the young man frequently spends time in quiet meditation.
  • Used commas to set off words, phrases, or clauses that add nonessential information or details to the sentence.
    • Justin, father of a young family, decided to purchase a house.
    • Thelma lost her driver’s license, as expected, after she was caught drinking and driving.
  • Use commas to separate geographical information, addresses, and dates.
    • Tampa, Florida, USA
    • The applicant lived at 101 Main Street, Appleton, New York, 13723.
    • The academic calendar lists May 4, 2013, as the date for spring graduation.

 For additional resources on commas, see also: