Rules to Follow when using the Comma

Did you know that correct punctuation can save a person’s life?

Andrea once wrote to us, “I remember when I was growing, I could use the comma up to twenty times in a compound sentence, and because of this, my class teacher, Miss Zara would whip me up to the number of times I wrongly used the punctuation mark.

Why? Because I wasn’t knowledgable about its usage.

But with time, after much practicing, I’ve been able to master it, and that has saved my life”.

We’d love to save your life just like Andrea’s. That is why we will be showing you how to practice the good usage of the comma.

Come with us as we embark on this success journey.

What is the comma?

The comma is a punctuation mark that separates ideas, clauses, or words within a sentence. Some writers refer to this mark as a soft pause because it specifies a smaller break in a sentence.

As tiny as this mark is, it is a very tricky one. Yeah! we sure you just attested to that? Because commas have many uses, they can not be easily pinned down.

There are some cases where you’ll be sure to use a comma, and in some instances, you’ll be confused about whether or not to use this punctuation mark.

Uses of The Comma

The comma is one of the most abused and misused punctuation marks. You can get your whole sentence wrong if you do not use this punctuation mark very well.

Commas are used for diverse purposes. Below are the most common reasons:

  • The comma is used to separate the major elements of a sentence from each other.
  • It is used to set off a parenthetical element from the remaining sentence.
  • You can also use the comma to set off quotations or dialogs.
  • It can as well be used to separate elements in a series.

What Are The Types Of Commas?

Commas have a wide range of purposes, and they also come in different types.

Below are the four different types of commas:

  • The joining comma
  • The bracketing comma
  • The listing comma
  • The gapping comma

Though its usage is not as difficult as you think, there are some important rules you need to grasp to make your next piece a more understandable one.

Rules Of The Comma

Writing a book online

It doesn’t matter the difficulty you’re currently facing about the usage of the comma, or whether you have in front of you a page full of those little marks, and you feel nervous about it.

Follow these lists of comma rules, as it will help you write, and edit better, you’ll also become a pro just like Andrea in a twinkle of an eye.

Rule 1: Use Commas to Differentiate Items in a List

Here, you can use the comma to separate items in a list of three things or more. Sure this rule isn’t a strange one to you, as your English teacher must have been sounding it to your hearing since you began learning basic English.

For example:

  • Success requires hard work, focus, perseverance, and consistency.

Rule 2: Use a Comma Before a Quotation

You need to make it a habit to always put a comma before a quotation.

For example:

  • John 3:16 says, ‘’For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have life eternal”
  • Jane said, ‘’You can’t eat your cake, and have it’’

Rule 3: Use a Comma After An Introductory Phrase or Clause

In this instance, a comma enlightens the readers that the introductory phrase or clause has ended and that the main part of the sentence is about to commence.


  • Near the river Nile, my father discovered a beautiful diamond.
  • When Sam was about to eat, his mum beckoned on him.

Rule 4: Use Comma With Addresses, Numbers, Dates, and Titles

In addresses: the elements contained in an address or the name of a place are separated by commas. On the other hand, a zip code isn’t preceeded by a comma.


Matthew Daniels was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1802.

In dates: the year is set off from the remaining sentences with a pair of comma.

For instance:

On April 1st, 2020, the Proprietor bought a new car.

In numbers: when writing numbers more than four digits long use comma to separate the numbers into groups, making sure to start from the right. For instance: 4, 000,000.

And in a case where the numbers are just four, you can either seperate them with a comma or leave them the way they appear. Example: 2, 300 or simply 2300.

In titles: if a title comes after a name, ensure to separate the title from the remaining part of the sentence using a comma. For example: Stella Thomas, CTO, is now a member of board.

Editing a book online

Rule 5: Use Comma To Specify Direct Address

When a speaker mentions the person he or she is referring to, this kind of address is called direct address. So, it would be best if you could identify by using comma. Although this is dependent on where you’ll place it in the sentence.

For instance:

I think, Vic, you’re rude.

Vic, I think you’re rude.

I think you’re rude, Vic.

Rule 6: Use The Comma To Separate Independent Clauses

You should use a comma before coordinating conjunctions, including, or, and, for, but, nor, so, yet, etc. when it marries two different ideas (independent clauses).

For example:

You can come take a walk with me, or you stay at home


In this article, we discussed the different types of comma, the different purposes they serve and how to use the comma correctly. Follow these guidelines and you will be able to communicate more effectively in your future write-ups.

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