Shared Flashcard Set


Comma #1
how to use commas
Not Applicable

Additional English Flashcards




Do you use a comma before the words "and", "but", "or"?

Yes, if what follows is a complete independent clause that can stand alone (there are exceptions).


I was there, and I wanted to do that.


Agnes studied English, and man, she studied it everyday.


First exception to the comma before and rule --


If the independent clause that follows "and" is short, five words or less, you do not need the comma. It's not wrong, but it's overkill.





I tried and I tried.


I was there and you were there.


Agnes studied and she studied hard.


----- So short, so smooth. No commas.


Second exception to the comma before "and" rule -- this one is hard to explain, but I'll do my best --


When the sentence is actually three clauses and the first clause is a dependent clause that affects both of the subsequent clauses (the third one being the clause starting with and) then you would not separate those final two clauses with a comma because they go together and go with the first clause, which is probably already set off with a comma --




Although Keith tried hard, he did not pass his JC test and he did not pass his Lit test.


If you read that again, you will see that he lied and that everyone believed his lie.


If you find the evidence preponderates on the defendant's side, then you will find for the defendant and you will not grant the plaintiff any money.


-- In each of these ,there are three clauses. The final two clauses are separated by "and." Normally, there would be a comma before "and," but in these cases, the final two clauses go together and are affected by that first clause. You don't want to separate the final two clause with a comma, especially with the third one about the judge. If you separate that, you are saying the third clause stands alone and that would be saying the judge is ordering the jury not to award any money to the plaintiff no matter what.


So be careful with those commas!

Make sure to put a comma between every item in a series, including before the last item.



I like chocolate, vanilla, and rocky road ice cream.


(It's not vanilla and rocky road, no such thing)



She took Spanish, French, Codes and Procedures.


(here, Codes and Procedures is one thing)

Make sure to use semicolons between list items if the items already have commas within them.



The incidents occured on March 10, 2009; June 17, 2009; and December 19, 2009.


Tommy, French; Joe, Spanish; and Beth, Chinese, were the languages they spoke.


(notice that after the last item, Beth, Chinese, you then put a comma - not a semicolon. The list is over and you are now continuing with the verb and the sentence, so you don't need something so heavy as another semicolon, just a comma)

If conjuctions separate each item in a list, no commas.

He was there and she was there and you were there.


He ate and he talked and she smiled.


If you do it or if you don't do it or if you don't even care doesn't matter to me.

Normally, two adjectives before a noun will be separated by commas.

He was a tall, handsome man.


It was a hard, hard test.


It was a ugly, dirty window.


However, sometimes you do not need the comma and shouldn't put it. How do you know? If the sentence is smooth and goes together, you will not need a break between the adjectives.


The test is try reversing the order of the two adjectives or putting "and" between them.


If the sentence sounds weird with the order reversed or sounds weird with "and" between, then it is already in the natural order and does not need a comma.


Natural order = no comma




A small gold key


(you would not say a gold, small key -- or a small and gold key)


a tall young man


(you would not say a young, tall man or a tall and young man)


beautiful red hair


(you would not say red, beautiful hair or beautiful and red hair)


dirty red book


(you would not say red, dirty book or dirty and red book)



Use commas when the adjectives follow the noun.

It was his test, marked and destroyed.


She had hair, lovely red hair.


The man, quiet and unassuming, was there.



Make sure to separate nouns of direct address with commas.

Agnes, were you there?


Officer, did he do it?


Tell us, Agnes, if you did.


You, ladies and gents of the jury, are done.


Please, ma'am, wait.


Sir, please do it.

Be careful on when you use commas in certain situations. Try to get them in during writing --

Who was there, Agnes?




Who was there? Agnes?


1st one is asking Agnes who was there


2nd one is asking who was there? Was Agnes there?

Separate quotes from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

I said, "do it."


"Do it," he said.


"Do it," he said, "or die."

When the witness says "quote" or "unquote," some people write these words in the transcript, and some people just use the quotation marks. Pick one style and be consistent (no one will ever care), but do not use both!



I told her, quote, do it, unquote.




I told her, "do it."



You have to use one or the other, but not both. Notice how the word quote or unquote will be separated with commas. If they say quote, and you put it was a word, but they don't say unquote, then just put what they say. You can't add unquote into the transcript. Their words stand as the record.


In dates, separate every item after the day with a comma.


But if military style, no commas.


December 19, 2009


I was there on December 19, 2009, and you were too


(don't forget comma after year)


19 December 2009.

In addresses, separate every item after street name with a comma. However, there is no comma between state and zip code.

10 Apple Street, San Jose, California 95041


I went to 10 Apple Street, San Jose, California, and you were there.


(always a comma after state except if zip code follows)

Use commas around etc. in a sentence (or et cetera if you like to spell it out -- your choice)
All the boxes, envelopes, etc., were there.
Use commas to separate page numbers, sections, etc.

He read from Book 12, Page 1, Section 5.


Refer to page 10, line 5, for the witness's answer.

Usually set off "please" with a comma. Do not separate it if it commas before the verb and is in natural order.

Please show us


(natural order, smooth, no commas)


show us, please


tell us, if you please


and, please, would you show us


If they say 72 hundred and not

7 thousand 2 hundred, then you can put




You don't have to put 7,200 -- just put it how they said.


Never combine the figures and words like I just did.


Never put 72 hundred






or 7,200

Supporting users have an ad free experience!