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AUTHOR'S ENGLISH WRTING GUIDE
Proper Comma Usage
-Use a comma when connecting two independent clauses with a conjunction such as but, for, and, or, yet, so, nor. Lack of a comma between two independent clauses separated by a conjunction is likely the most common grammar mistake.
For example: We went swimming, and we watched the sunrise.
-Use a comma to separate a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence.
For example: After we ate dinner, we played a game.
-Commas are used to separate a string of dependent clauses.
For example: The friends ate dinner, walked the dog, cleaned the yard, and said goodnight.
-When your clauses are independent (they could stand alone as complete sentences), use both a comma and "and" before the final clause:
Betty gets home at 5:30, she changes her clothes, she washes her hair, and she goes to bed around 11:00.
-A non-defining subordinate clause gives extra, unnecessary information about a noun and has no specific function other than additional information. These clauses usually begin with "which" or "who” and should be separated by commas before and after the non-defining subordinate clause or should be followed by a period if they are at the end of a sentence.
For example: The Empire State Building, which was built in 1930, is still New York's tallest building.
The dog is running up and down the street, which is empty of cars.
-Use a comma to separate an appositive from the rest of the sentence; there should be a comma before and after this word or phrase that can be substituted for a name.
An example is “Bob Vance, the president of Vance Refrigeration, married my coworker Phyllis.”
-If you have more than two nouns, separate them with commas. In a list of nouns, you also separate the final two with the word "and" or the word "or."
An example is “The cat, pumpkin, and sign are all orange.”
-Words or phrases used to introduce or interrupt a sentence need a comma. These words and phrases indicate presentation of an important fact or idea and signal a slight interruption in the sentence:
This topic, in my opinion, is not relevant to our discussion.
-Any time you need to offset a clause and provide additional information, be sure to place commas around the clause:
It was the first assay, not the second, that showed the desired results.
-Use a comma after please, a direct address, or to indicate a quote:
"Please," he whispered, "don’t leave me alone."
"Stop," she yelled. "I can’t keep up."
Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The time is always right to do what's right."