Commas in English

Commas in English

The topic of punctuation in English should be approached with basic knowledge, otherwise you can get lost, like in a forest. It is a completely different language, with its own nuances in each rule. 


Are commas needed? 

Since the comma can be called one of the most common punctuation marks, it certainly exists in English. There are a lot of rules for its application in a sentence. Sometimes it is difficult to remember everything and you have to be guided by intuition. There are quite a few rules for setting commas in English. To understand what's what, we have selected all the most basic below. 



In English the appeal must be separated by a comma. This rule is one of the basic ones to study at school. However, do not be afraid if you suddenly see a text from an Englishman without a comma before the appeal. This happens quite often, especially if the appeal is at the end. 

Remember that there cannot be an exclamation mark after an appeal in English.

  • Dear Mary, we are very glad to finally hear from you… 
  • John, I just want you to know that I'm leaving tomorrow. 


Difficult sentence 

- Parts of a complex sentence that have their own grammatical basis will be separated by a comma, since they can be called full-fledged separate sentences. 

  • He filled the bath, but the water wasn't hot enough for him. 
  • Boys has been to the seaside today, but they didn't take any picture. 

- descriptive attributive sentences are also distinguished by a comma, or even two if they are in the middle: 

  • The boss of the company, who is extremely friendly, asked me if I want to have dinner with him. 

- subordinate adverbial clauses will be separated if they come before the main clause: 

  • If I want to have this album, I can buy it through the Internet. 



Simply saying: a comma is not needed before because, but after it is necessary. If a little more complicated, then this conjunction implies the use of an adverbial clause (Adverb Subordinate Clauses). Such clauses are used with conjunctions as, because, since, though, although, even, even if, if, unless, when, whenever, while, rather than, in order that, so that, before, once, after, until. 

A comma in a sentence with an adverbial clause will only be used if it comes before the main clause. That is, if the whole sentence begins with the word because, then the turnover with this word is separated from the second part of the sentence by a comma. This will not happen if the because part follows the main clause. 

  • Because he liked her, he asked her out. 
  • He asked her out because he liked her. 



 The form of politeness, in the form of the word “please”, will be highlighted in writing with commas in almost the same way as because. Here, if the word is at the beginning of the sentence, then there will be no comma after it. However, if it is at the very end, then a comma is needed. 

  • Please close the door, it’s cold. 
  • It’s cold. Close the door, please. 



As a coordinating conjunction, but is intended to connect two parts of a compound sentence. If these parts are complete, that is, each of them will have its own subject and predicate, then they will be separated by a comma. 

  • He told us that he did the homework, but we didn't believe him. 

If there is no full sentence after the conjunction, then there will be no comma. 

  •  She is very pretty but stupid. 
  • We painted the house but forgot about doors and windows. 
The same rule applies to the conjunctions or, so and and.



If the sentence is enumerated using several words, and the last one is preceded by the conjunction and, then a comma will also be placed before it. 

  • We watched a movie, a cartoon, and a music video. 

This rule is not so mandatory, and it is called the Oxford comma. That is, here we ourselves can decide whether to put a comma before the conjunction or not. All other enumerations are separated by commas. 



Also, like the two previous conjunctions, it will be separated only if there are two grammatical bases in the parts of the sentence. 

  • He paid for dinner, so I decided to pay for coffee later. 



A word meaning "also" and “too”. The question of its place in the sentence is a separate issue. But it depends on it whether a comma is placed after too or not. So, for example, if it is at the end of a sentence and means "also, too", then the comma may or may not be there. Philosophical question? Probably not. 

  • I am going to go there too. 
  • She likes horror movies and comedies, too. 

Both options are correct, but most often there is no comma before too. We put it there only when we want to emphasize the last word. 



Of all the types of subordinate clauses, the conjunction which belongs to the category of adjective subordinate clauses that define the characteristics of a noun. There are restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, depending on the presence of which there will be a comma. 

The restrictive clause reduces all the characteristics of an object or person to one, the most important: 

  • She met a guy who was wearing a strange blue and green hat. 

A non-restrictive clause, on the contrary, highlights one characteristic against the background of many others: 

  • She met a guy who was wearing a strange blue and green hat, which was dirty. 

As can be seen from the example, a comma must be placed in a non-restrictive clause. 


Comma required 

- in subordinate clauses that begin with conjunctions when, if, as soon as, so, which 

- in questions with a repeat question like "isn't it so" 

- after the introductory phrase, which determines the time of the action 

- after participial and adverbial phrases 


The comma is NOT needed 

You do not need to put a comma before the conjunction than when comparing. 

  • That tree is higher than this one. 

When transmitting indirect speech, both with and without a conjunction. 

  • He said that he had fallen asleep in the bath.