The Six Comma Rules

When I worked at the Douglas College Learning Center this list helped me migrate the confusing world of commas. It seems like writers either use too many, don't use them correctly or in exasperation don't use them at all, creating a whole collage of run-on sentences.


The Six Comma Rules:

  1. Put a comma before and, but, for, or, nor, yet, and so when they connect two independent clauses.
  2. Put a comma between items in a series.
  3. Put a comma after an introductory expression or before an afterthought.
  4. Put commas with dates.
  5. Put commas around an interrupter, like however, moreover etc.
  6. Put commas around nonessential material.

         Teresa Ferster Glazier, The Least You Should Know About English Writing Skills. Form B, 5th ed. (Harcourt Brace College, 1994).


Examples (from corresponding numbers 1 to 6 above):

  1.  I rushed home, and I finished my homework before I went to the birthday party.
  2. She asked me to go to the store to get some milk, pears, olives, tomatoes and bottled water.
  3. In June, I will be going to summer camp at Silver Lake.
  4. I was born on October 10, 1998, in Quebec.
  5. The student studied for the test, however, he studied the wrong things and failed the test.
  6. Tina, the girl with the bleach blond hair, sat in the corner of the room reading her book.


Also, as you can see this information is taken from an older source, but as the old adage goes, if it is not broken, do not fix it. In other words, if it still works, use it.


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