ECHO: Rules For Commas
In a series of 3 or more:
- words (go, went, and gone)
- phrases: (in a minute, in an hour, or in a month)
- clauses: (he went, he saw, and he conquered)
After transitional words (TW), transitional phrases (TP), or long introductory phrases (-ing) of four or more words:
- When speaking to someone (direct address): Jerry, come home.
- Before direct address: Come home, Jerry.
- Around direct address: This time, Jerry, I won't take it.
Around nonrestrictive appositives (words which rename a noun):
- Robert Frost, an outspoken man, was a speaker for New Englanders. (BUT NOT IF the appositive is short & necessary to understand the sentence.)
- The poet Robert Frost was a speaker for New Englanders. (usually, one or more adjectives will precede the appositive if commas are to be used.)
When using interrupters or parenthetical expressions:
- I want cookies, not cake, for dinner.
After the day of the month and year if followed by more words:
- May 13, 1980, was my birthday.
After street address, after city, and after state (IF followed by more words)
- I have lived at 210 Oakwood, Clinton, Oklahoma, for three years.
- Go to the College at 7777 S. May, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73159. (No comma between state and ZIP.)
When connecting Independent and Dependent Clauses:
|IC||(, and, but, or)||IC||(Option 1 Coordination / Subordination)|
|IC||(NO COMMA)||DC||(Option 4 Coordination / Subordination)|
|(If) (Although) (Because)||DC||(,)||IC||(Option 5 Coordination / Subordination)|
The word introducing the DC clause at the beginning of a sentence must be capitalized
When you answer "Yes" or "No" in a sentence, use a comma:
- Yes, I will.
- No, there will be no test today.
Use a comma around non-restrictive words and phrases in a sentence:
- Tom, who lives next door, works for IBM.
- The man who won the Oscar is the best actor of all.
Use a comma when necessary to avoid confusing your reader:
- After eating the child fell asleep.
- After eating, the child fell asleep.