Business Writing Training and Coaching

For Businesses and Executives

Demystifying the Comma, Part 1

Commas are the most frequently used punctuation mark, viagra sale and they seem to cause more than their fair share of confusion. Luckily there are rules about when to use a comma, so you don’t have to guess every time. Learn these few rules, and you’ll never wonder if you’re doing it right again.

Use a comma:

When joining two full sentences with and, or, but, nor, or for.

  • Jennifer worked for the agency, but I never knew her there.
  • The CFO liked Marco’s resume, and I think we should interview him.

Between items in a series.

  • They are looking for people in marketing, sales, and account management.
  • The caterer offers vegetarian, gluten-free, and kosher selections.

(The comma before the “and” is optional. It’s known as a “serial comma” or “Oxford comma,” and we’ll talk more about it in a later post.)

After a long introductory phrase or clause.

  • With the presentation behind him, Paul was able to enjoy the rest of the trip.
  • Because of the shortage of housing in the city, they moved to the suburbs.

It’s up to you to decide if your introductory phrase or clause is long enough to justify using a comma. If you think there’s any risk of confusion, you’re better off inserting a comma.

In Part 2 of Demystifying the Comma, we’ll look at a few more rules for comma usage. Don’t expect yourself to memorize these rules right off the bat: the best way to remember grammar and punctuation rules is through using them. Bookmark these posts and refer to them whenever you have a comma-related question.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Laura's e-newsletter gives you free monthly writing tips. Sign up now!

Email Laura