When To Use a Comma?


English is a universal language. When you start learning English, you learn both spoken English and English writing. Spoken English is easy to understand. You have to consider the pronunciations of words and prepositions, etc. Let us know more about When To Use a Comma in this article!

When To Use a Comma?

But when it comes to English writing, there are a lot of rules you must follow to write English essays, articles, or any statement in a good way. The most common mistakes people make are related to commas. A comma in simple words gives a small break to the sentence when a period ends. So to write English correctly, you should know the uses of commas. 

There are several comma usage guidelines, and often the indicators of whether to use one are quite subtle. But there are eight primary uses of commas that you must have to follow when writing in English. The comma is a small break in the sentence hence its rules are according to it. It is used in the sentence according to the writing. It has many uses like it separates independent clauses, it comes in between many items used in a chain, after an introductory phrase or clause, and many more. 

We have just discussed the usage of commas in a go-through. If you want to know all about its usage rules and where the commas are used, you should read the article to the end. 

Uses of Comma 

As we mentioned earlier, there are eight primary uses of commas in English. If you are looking for them, you are at the right place. Below is the complete list of the uses of commas with their examples for your better understanding. 

Separation of Independent Clauses 

It is the first basic rule to use a comma. A comma is necessary to separate the independent clauses if you don’t want to break them into two separate sentences. So the commas must be used whenever you join two independent clauses with the following seven coordinate conjunctions. 

  • But
  • Or 
  • And 
  • For 
  • Nor
  • So
  • Yet

For example, the show ended, but the people were not leaving. 

Between Chain of Items

It is the most common use of commas that even little children are taught. Whenever you use more than two items like words, clauses, or phrases in a sentence, you have to put commas between them. Every item in a series, which is a collection of three or more things sharing the same purpose and structure in a sentence, should be separated by a comma.

For example, we purchase tomatoes, potatoes, and onions from the market today. So you must have to put the commas between the series. 

After Introductory Clause

Normally, a comma follows participial phrases that begin sentences. You have to place a comma after it if the sentence is starting with an introductory clause or introductory phrase or words that are placed before the main clause. Many of the sub-rules also come in this use. It’s often preferable to use a comma with longer introduction phrases that establish the scene for the main section of the sentence, especially if the phrase is longer than 3–4 words.

Many introductory clauses are used commonly like because, if, and while and many common phrases are also there. You can better understand it with the following examples. 

While I was waiting, the dog played with me. 

To have a seat, you have to come early. 

Question Tags

To make a statement into a question, a question tag, which can be as short as one word, is inserted after the sentence. Question tags are frequently used by authors to nudge readers toward their points of view. There is a use of commas that should be placed before a question tag.

For example, you should do better in this exam, shouldn’t you? 

Dates and Address 

In all English writings, dates or addresses are always common. There is a proper way of writing dates and addresses in English. Placing commas at the right place on a date or an address is the most important thing during its writing. Though it also depends on the format you are using to write the date whether you have to put a comma in it or not. 

If you are using a month day year format for writing the date, then a comma is necessary. For example, 

My sister was born on Monday, June 24, 2004.

As for the writing address, look at the following example. 

Steve was born in California, America, in 1998.

Before Direct Speech 

Discussion between two or more persons is referred to as a dialogue. If the speaker in the dialogue as opposed to the listener is recognized, his name or the noun or pronoun used to refer to him and the verb he uses to describe his speaking are separated by commas. Let us have a look at the example. 

Lisa said, “ I am not good at cooking.” 

Or it can be

“ I am not good at cooking,” she said. 

Non Essentials

Commas should be placed with non-essential words, clauses, or phrases. To separate clauses, phrases, and words that are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence, place a comma during the sentence. Use a comma before and one after each pause to mark their starting and ending, respectively.

Non Essentials are those words, clauses, or phrases that are not necessary for the sentence. If you don’t have these in your sentence, it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence. This is the most simple definition of non-essentials. 

For example, Jhon, who is my brother, opens the gate. 

Coordinate Adjectives

Commas should be used between coordinate adjectives. The term “coordinate” refers to adjectives that modify a noun in the same way, therefore commas should be used to separate them. If you want to see if your sentence has coordinate adjectives or not then you should try changing the order of the adjectives in the sentence. The adjectives are coordinated if the statement still sounds natural. And if it happens you have to use a comma between them. 

For example, this man is an arrogant, conceited, obnoxious idiot. The changing of adjectives does not change the real meaning of the sentence. Like if we change it to this man is a conceited, arrogant, obnoxious idiot. 

So these are the primary rules of using commas. 


Commas are one of the most important punctuations in English writing. There are many different uses of these commas which you have to pay attention to. We have mentioned in our article the 8 basic uses along with their examples of the commas in English writings. These are simple and easy to understand. Now let’s wrap up our discussion with a suggestion for you to read this article to have the basic usage knowledge of commas. It will be very beneficial for your future and help you in your writing. 

Frequently asked questions: 
  • Can I use commas with essential words, phrases, or clauses? 

No, the commas are just used with non-essentials, not used with essential words, clauses, or phrases. Essentials are those which change the sentence’s meaning if you change their position. 

  • What are the common mistakes people make while using commas? 

People make very common mistakes regarding commas. The most common mistake is not placing a comma before and or in a series of words. 

When To Use a Comma?

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