🏁 When you’ve got more than one thing to say in a sentence, you probably need to use commas to separate them into two or more parts.
Which sentence is easier to read?
I wanted to see Man Utd play against Man City even though I’m not from Manchester.
I wanted to see Man Utd play against Man City, even though I’m not from Manchester.
Is the second sentence easier to read, because it has a comma half way through? That’s why using them helps.
Here are some more examples of when to use commas:
1 The goal was, unfortunately, disallowed.
2 The goal, which had been scored by an offside player, was disallowed.
3 The goal was disallowed, wasn’t it?
4 The match was played on April 7th, 2018.
5 The goalscorer was young, talented, gifted and fast.
6 The player was good in midfield, but she was even better as a striker.
7 Having tackled two defenders, Kane scored a brilliant goal.
8 Yes, it was a great goal from Messi!
🔆 If you get these different ways to use commas, go to Skill 13.
🎯 💻 Want to try a test?
🛠 If you’d like more practise and advice, read on.
You also use commas in speech. We’ll cover this more later, but here are a few more examples:
9 The manager said, ‘That was a great goal.’
10 ‘It was a great goal,’ said the manager.
11 ‘It was a great goal,’ said the manager, ‘but I wish he’d scored another one before the final whistle.’
12 ‘It was a great goal,’ said the manager. ‘If only he’d had time to score another one before the final whistle!’
🚦Got some more time? Don’t worry- you don’t need to read this section if you’re happy with when to use commas!
🎓 Grammar can be quite complicated, so here’s a taste of what we could say about the use of commas in the different sentences above:
1 The word unfortunately in this sentence can be called an interrupter, as it breaks up a sentence that would still make sense on its own if you take the word in the middle out.
2 The commas here surround some more information about the first part of the sentence (the subject), which is called a relative clause (or sometimes also a parenthetical element), because it can’t stand apart from the sentence and make sense on its own. You could also call it a nonrestrictive clause because you could take it out and the sentence would still make sense. It can also be called a non-defining clause for the same reason.
3 This sentence uses a question tag (wasn’t it?) at the end, which is often a way to check if someone agrees with you or is following what you are saying. There’s always a comma before a question tag.
4 When dates are written this way we put a comma before the year.
5 This sentence uses a list of adjectives that go with each other, so they’re sometimes called coordinating adjectives, and we use a comma between them.
6 This sentence uses a comma before but, because the word but is introducing a part of the sentence that could also work on its own (called an independent clause).
7 This sentence uses a fronted clause, which means that it would also make sense if written with the two parts in a more normal order, e.g. Kane scored a brilliant goal, having tackled two defenders. The comma goes between the two parts. Having tackled two defenders is called a subordinate clause because it couldn’t be a sentence on its own, but the other part could, so Kane scored a brilliant goal is called a main clause.
8 We put a comma after yes or no when we use them in this emphatic way.
9 After using said to introduce someone speaking, we put the comma after the said and cannot just leave it without one.
10 When we start with what we call direct speech, we must put a comma before the closing speech marks, before we tell everyone who is speaking.
11 We use the first comma for the reasons in 10 above, but we also use one after the speaker’s name because we haven’t finished telling the reader what he is saying in the same sentence.
12 In this one, the second part is a standalone sentence so no comma is needed in it, but the first one still needs one before the speech marks.