Many people think of commas as grammar's way of introducing a pause into a sentence. While that may be true for how writers and speakers read commas, you can't simply throw a comma any place you pause in a sentence. There are strict rules that govern when you can (and can't) use commas.
Let's explore some of the most common usages for commas.
Put a comma before any coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet) that links two independent clauses.
- Example: I went to the grocery store, and I went shopping for shoes.
Put a comma after a dependent clause that occurs at the beginning of a sentence.
- When I went to the grocery store, I bought some bread.
Use commas to separate items in a series.
- I bought bread, milk, and apples at the grocery store.
Use a comma after an introductory adverb.
An introductory adverb occurs at the beginning of the sentence and answers a question about how something happened.
- Finally, I got to the front of the checkout line at the grocery store.
Use a comma when you attribute a quote.
Attributing a quote is when you give credit to the person who said it. In the below example, you're attributing the quotation to "mom."
- My mom said, "You should go to the grocery store."
Use a comma when the first word of your sentence is "yes" or "no."
- Yes, I went to the grocery store.
Use a comma when you directly address someone (or something) in a sentence.
- Rose, did you go to the grocery store?