Comma - When, Where and How to Use a Comma in a Sentence?

Are you a lover of commas? How often do you use a comma? Do you think you are using it correctly? Read the article to find out.

Have you heard people saying, “It should have ended with a full stop, but I put a comma and let it continue”? Commas often indicate that the statement is not over and that there is something more. Commas, one among the most commonly used punctuation marks in the English language, is also one of the most inappropriately used punctuation marks. English language learners and users rarely learn how and where to use a comma. So, here is everything you need to know. Learn how to use a comma in sentences in this article. Check out the examples given to have a clearer idea of the usage of a comma.

Table of Contents

A Comma – Meaning and Definition

A comma is a commonly used punctuation mark that is used to separate two words, phrases or clauses in a sentence. It can also be used in a list to mention different items or articles.

A comma, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “the mark ( , ) used to separate the items in a list or to show where there is a slight break in a sentence.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines a comma as “the symbol ‘,’ used in writing and printing between parts of a sentence or between things in a list.” A comma is “the symbol ‘,’ used in writing to separate parts of a sentence showing a slight pause, or to separate the single things in a list”, according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

When and When Not to Use a Comma?

It has already been discussed that a comma is generally used to separate different articles or objects in a list. You should know that a comma can do much more than just that. Let us look at the various functions of a comma.

  • The basic function of a comma is to separate nouns (subjects/objects) in a sentence.
  • A comma can be used to separate phrases or even to separate a phrase and a clause.
  • A comma can be used to separate a main clause from a subordinate clause.
  • A comma can be used before a coordinating conjunction and after a conjunctive adverb in a compound sentence

A comma also indicates a short pause, but that does not mean that you can insert a comma as and when you want to. Use a comma only where it is necessary and apt. Now that you know where a comma can be used properly, use it wisely to make your writing look professional and readable.

Examples of Sentences Using a Comma

Given below are a few examples to show you the different ways to use commas in your sentences. Check them out.

Use of Comma to Separate Nouns (Subjects/Objects)

  • We had BBQ Steak burger, Beyond Classic burger and Thousand Island burger for lunch today.
  • Ann had honey glazed chicken, dragon chicken and French fries for appetisers and red velvet, tropical creme legere and cheesecake for dessert.
  • Annu, Ashish, Danny and Divu will be going to Coonoor.
  • To make paneer masala, I grinded sautéed tomatoes, onions , dried red chillies and cashew nuts.
  • When they went to the zoo, they saw a white tiger, a huge bear, an African elephant, a troop of monkeys and a lake full of crocodiles.

Use of Comma to Separate Two Phrases / A Phrase and A Clause

  • Reading books, listening to songs and planning interior decors are my favourite leisure activities.
  • Four years ago, I never thought this would be my life.
  • Every evening, Rachel and Monica take a stroll in the park.
  • All around the world, people are being affected by the coronavirus.
  • Mathew, my uncle, lives in Kerala.

Use of Comma to Separate a Main Clause from a Subordinate Clause

  • We went out for lunch, so we did not have anything at home.
  • Nobody knew where to find poppies; however, some of them offered to help us find some contacts.
  • Phoebe, the girl who sings at Central Perk, is my friend.
  • The team, which won the International Acapella competition, will be performing live at the Annual Music Festival in Cannes.
  • Though none of us had the energy to sit through the entire show, we did for the sake of our friends who were a part of the show.

Check Your Understanding of the Usage of Commas in a Sentence

Insert commas wherever necessary in the following sentences.

1. Princy bought a red dress a pair of blue jeans a denim overcoat and a floral frock.

2. Mintu at the end of her second year was given a job at the ISRO.

3. During the summer holidays they have planned to go to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

4. Nivin my brother was born in 1989.

5. Varunika made pasta momos and sandwiches for her friends.

6. Once all students have submitted their documents make sure you check if every student’s details are correctly entered.

7. During the pandemic many people lost their jobs.

8. Last week we decided to go on a trip to Hampi.

9. Raimy Mazeeka Glint and Gowtham will be travelling to Delhi next month.

10. Yesterday at the hotel we met our school friends unexpectedly.

Now, find out if you have used commas in the right places from the sentences given below.

1. Princy bought a red dress, a pair of blue jeans, a denim overcoat and a floral frock.

2. Mintu, at the end of her second year, was given a job at the ISRO.

3. During the summer holidays, they have planned to go to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

4. Nivin, my brother, was born in 1989.

5. Varunika made pasta, momos and sandwiches for her friends.

6. Once all students have submitted their documents, make sure you check if every student’s details are correctly entered.

7. During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs.

8. Last week, we decided to go on a trip to Hampi.

9. Raimy, Mazeeka, Glint and Gowtham will be travelling to Delhi next month.

10. Yesterday, at the hotel, we met our school friends unexpectedly.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Usage of Commas

What is a comma?

A comma is a commonly used punctuation mark that is used to separate two words, phrases or clauses in a sentence. It can also be used in a list to mention different items or articles.

What is the definition of a comma?

A comma, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “the mark ( , ) used to separate the items in a list or to show where there is a slight break in a sentence.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines a comma as “the symbol ‘,’ used in writing and printing between parts of a sentence or between things in a list.” A comma is “the symbol ‘,’ used in writing to separate parts of a sentence showing a slight pause, or to separate the single things in a list”, according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

When can you use a comma in a sentence?

Take a look at the various uses of a comma.

  • The basic function of a comma is to separate nouns (subjects/objects) in a sentence.
  • A comma can be used to separate phrases or even to separate a phrase and a clause.
  • A comma can be used to separate a main clause from a subordinate clause.
  • A comma can be used before a coordinating conjunction and after a conjunctive adverb in a compound sentence

Give some examples of sentences using commas.

Here are a few examples of sentences using commas.

  • Ann had honey glazed chicken, dragon chicken and French fries for appetisers and red velvet, tropical creme legere and cheesecake for dessert.
  • Annu, Ashish, Danny and Divu will be going to Coonoor.
  • Reading books, listening to songs and planning interior decors are my favourite leisure activities.
  • All around the world, people are being affected by the coronavirus.
  • The team, which won the International Acapella competition, will be performing live at the Annual Music Festival in Cannes.
  • Though none of us had the energy to sit through the entire show, we did for the sake of our friends who were a part of the show.

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