Comma Rules

Between items in a series

  • Flour, yeast, salt, and oil make bread.
  • He lived in Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.
  • Dexter rode a horse, wrestled a steer, and shoveled manure.

Between two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction: and, but, or, for, nor, yet, so

  • He lived, and he died.
  • He lived long, but he died poor.
  • He could have been a doctor, or he could have been a lawyer.
  • He did not marry, nor did he have children.
  • He loved children, yet he did not have any.
  • He did not want children, so he had none.

Separate a main clause and a subordinate clause with a subordinating conjunction: although, because, if, unless, etc.

  • Although he lived long, he died poor.
  • Because he lived well, he died well.
  • If he had been a doctor, he might have been wealthy.
  • You should get a good job, unless you want to be broke.

Separate a main clause from a non-restrictive phrase or clause

  • non-restrictive (use commas)
    • My mom, who plays electric guitar, has red hair.
    • My dad lives in Kansas City, a great town for barbecue.
    • Barak Obama, a man of African descent, is the President of the United States.
  • restrictive (do not use commas)
    • The lady who has red hair is my mom.

Comma Rules Quiz

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