Skip to content


Commas (,) – Lists

We use commas to make lists and avoid using the verb or a conjunction again, which is also a form of ellipsis.

  • Last weekend I went to the USA, Spain and France. The last item in the sentence is preceded by ‘and’. ‘And’ doesn’t take a comma before it unless the sentence is very long. 
  • In Spanish class I studied verb forms, adjectives, different parts of speech and suffixes.

Commas (,) – Adjectives 

Commas are used before adjectives if there are more than one. Moreover, each adjective needs to be separated by a comma.

  • The young lady was tanned, beautiful, strong and lovely.
  • London is beautiful, very large, cosmopolitan and polluted.
  • I thought the waiter was rather rude, unhelpful and nosy.

Commas (,) – Numbers

Commas are used to divide large numbers in English. (NOT the full stop(.) as is applied in some countries). Do not use commas in decimals, we use full stops or points.

  • 5,000 euros
  • 60,0000 pounds
  • 800,000 thousand USD
  • 657,000,874
  • 100 comma not necessary for numbers less than three.
English courses

Commas (,) – Subordinate clauses

Commas are used to subordinate clauses. Clauses that are are subordinated should be preceded by a comma. Although this rule comes under scrutiny because in many cases it’s not obligatory to put the comma there; it is largely subjective to the writer.

  • If I see her, I’ll let her know.
  • If you come to Amsterdam, flick me a message.
  • The computer will work, only if the repair guy fixes the data base.

Commas (,) – Before direct speech

Commas can be used, just like semi-colons or colons, before direct speech. The direct speech could be what someone else has said or a quotation of some sort.

  • She told me to, ‘be quiet and shut up’, which I found to be a little rude.
  • As Aristotle was quoted as saying, ‘We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit’.
  • They looked at me and said, ‘Take a good look at yourself’.

Commas (,) – Identifying expressions 

When the expressions in a sentence are already identified in the clause, that is, the rest of the sentence shows exactly what it is or it is doing, then you must NOT use commas. When the clauses are non-identifying clauses, commas are preferable, but largely subjective.

  • The man, in the house, had a beard. INCORRECT
  • The man in the house had a beard. CORRECT
  • The waiter, at the bar, knew what he was doing.  INCORRECT
  • The waiter at the bar knew what he was doing. CORRECT

Commas (,) – Word order

If expressions or words are put in odd positions in the sentence, then we normally separate these words and expressions with a comma(s).

  • Susan, who is a great person, lives by the river.
  • I know a guy, James, who can do what you’re asking.
  • The film, although exhausting, did make a few good points about humanity.

See also