The comma’s broad function is to separate words, phrases and clauses in a sentence to make it easily understood.

Setting off names and people

  • Are you seeing her tomorrow, Jane?
  • Look, Bob, a beautiful eagle.
  • Children, be quiet and listen.

Itemising words

  • Please buy apples, oranges, grapes and onions.
  • My favourite colours are red, white and blue.

Itemising groups of words

  • You may have the cheese board, the chocolate cake, the coffee or the mango surprise.

Separating thoughts or qualifications

  • The reviewers thought it was, after careful consideration, the best book in the category.
  • It was, on the whole, a very successful evening.

Setting off interjections

  • Wow, what a beautiful dog!
  • Well, I have never seen this restaurant so busy.
  • Wait, I will be there in a minute.

Setting off direct speech

  • John lifted his eyes and said, “The little green men are coming.”

Comparative and contrasting statements

  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
  • The more he protested his innocence, the less they listened.

Reinforcing statements

  • He will pass the exam, I know it.
  • She is innocent, that’s the truth.

Setting off an introductory word or phrase

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How to use the comma with examples.


Michael Jones - Senior English Editor -

Author- Michael Jones


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