Learn how to use commas correctly in this English lesson. You can see the full lesson (which includes the text and a quiz) here: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/video-lesson-how-to-use-commas
Commas are difficult to use correctly in English - why is this? It's because commas do different jobs in the sentence. These different types of comma follow different rules. So, to use commas correctly in English, you need to understand the different types of comma and what they do.
1. The listing comma
The listing comma is used to separate items on a list. For example:
- "We need two cucumbers, four tomatoes, some onions and a lettuce."
- "We spent our time relaxing on the beach, swimming in the sea and drinking coffee in the seaside cafés."
You can see that we use a comma between every item on the list, except for the last two; there isn't a comma before 'and'. In American English, there could also be a comma before 'and'.
2. The joining comma
The joining comma is used to link two complete sentences, together with a linking word. For example:
- "We were tired, and we really didn't feel like going anywhere."
- "He seemed nice, but he just wasn't my type."
We often use the joining comma with linking words such as 'but', 'and', 'or', 'although' and others. You can't use a joining comma with all linking words. For example, 'however' cannot be used with a comma.
3. The bracketing comma
The bracketing comma is used to add extra information to a sentence. For example:
- "This book, first published in 1956, is still useful for students today."
— We add the extra phrase 'first published in 1956' between a pair of commas.
- "One of my colleagues, who used to be a semi-professional footballer, invited me to play in their 5-a-side team this weekend."
— We add the extra information 'who used to be a semi-professional footballer' in between a pair of commas.
You'll learn more about how to use these different types of comma in the video lesson. You can also learn about common mistakes which English learners make with commas, so that you can avoid them.
A big thank you to the Alphabet translation team from Syria for the Arabic captions!
1: Listing comma( separate items in a list including words, phrases and full sentences) to replace 'and' / 'or'
2: Joining comma( join two complete sentences with a linking word)
1⃣️linking words: but, or, although, also etc.
2⃣️We can't use a joining comma with some linking words( however, )
3: Bracketing comma( add extra information to a sentence, more often used in appositives)
⚠️Using bracketing comma the sentence must be complete and make sense without that extra information.
🚫Don't put a comma between a subject and its verb
🚫Don't use a comma before that
🚫Don't use a comma to join two sentences if without linking words
Quick question, my friend. It's been bugging for me for a couple of days. I read a sentence from this book: "I saw her in the pouring down rain, outside standing underneath a store's awning." The comma between rain and outside is bugging me. Why is there a comma there? Is it a independent clause, dependent clause scenario?
"I loathe commas, so dearly --- they drive me insane , so much they make me scream!" I sigh heavily. While I shook my head, and stared blankly at the concrete slab. Is there anything wrong with my usage of commas? Is there anything I would need to improve on? I subscribed to your awesome channel and clicked on the bell icon. Why do I feel at times there should be a comma after the word 'channel'?
I gotchya now! While I read my sentence back in my mind, I could see it clearly. You're absolutely correct! I would had used a comma before the conjunction if introducing another subject. However, I should had placed a comma inside the While transitional phase, but I could be wrong. e.g. 'While I shook my head and stared blankly at the concrete slab, I sensed the frustration boiling through my veins.' Although, I understand this video is more about using commas than using transitional phases. :) Your videos, however, have accelerated my learning curve, and I thank you for that!
Does this video includes when to use comma before words like - which, such as, including, and includes? Can anyone shed light on these things theoretically over here by replying to me please! As much accurately as possible!
In the sentence "You'll either have to start again, or find someone to help you" you said it is wrong because the second part is not a full sentence. I actually thought it was wrong because the first sentence is not a complete sentence. I find it difficult to believe that "You'll either have to start again" can stand on its own as a sentence while the second part "Find someone to help you",which could be used like a command, seems just fine as a sentence to me.
Yes, that's a more accurate way of thinking about it. I didn't want to get into different clause types, so I used the term 'full sentence' a little loosely in the video, meaning 'either a full sentence or a clause which could potentially be a full sentence.'
That was what I thought. So in that case does that mean that we can use the joining comma with a linking word to combine 2 complete sentences OR 2 clauses? I ask this because in the sentence we are discussing you explained it under the "joining comma" section of the video, where you said that it is used to join two complete sentences while in this case the first part (beginning with "You'll either") as you have just told me is not a complete sentence.
It's not a complete sentence, because using 'either' makes it a dependent clause, i.e. it needs the second clause (with 'or') to complete the idea and the sentence. Without 'either' it would be a full sentence.
Woops, my mistake. I meant to say that I felt the sentence was wrong because I thought the first part "You'll either have to start again" could not stand on it's own as a sentence. Could you explain how the first part is a complete sentence?
I didn't say it's wrong; I said it's correct! "Find someone to help you" looks like it isn't a full sentence, but it's actually a full sentence with some words omitted to avoid repetition. The full form would be "You'll either have to start again, or you'll have to find someone to help you." Leaving out the words 'you'll have to' doesn't change the fact that it's a full sentence.
Hi, I have seen some cases in which the comma before AND, BUT, or SO preceding sentences is not used. For example:
They went to the store and they bought some food. Would you please tell me if there are any exceptions to that rule?
It's a good question. Comma usage in English isn't 100% fixed, and different people don't use commas consistently. Because so many people use commas in different ways, it's impossible to say what's right/wrong in some cases.
In your example, you don't need a comma. I think it depends on length. The two clauses are quite short, so you can often omit the comma even though the rules say you need one.
Basic rule: use punctuation to help your reader. If punctuation makes your writing clearer for your reader, use it. If it doesn't, don't!
Hi! Maybe you could help me with this doubt. I'm a teacher and some time ago I got into an "argument" with a fellow teacher because of a sentence that a student wrote, which wasn't the sentence we were hoping for (this was a grammar exercise in a test). So, the student wrote this: "Some health complaints like allergies and asthma, caused by pollution and germs, affect thousands of people around the world." Is this a correct sentence? Does it make sense? Thank you!
+Oxford Online English Thank you so much! Yes, it does help a lot (because I argued that the sentence was indeed correct). My colleague argued that the relative couldn't be reduced in English (which we do all the time in our language, Portuguese), and so there shouldn't be any commas. Thank you again!
Good question! Yes, the sentence is grammatically correct. It's a reduced relative clause; it could also be written as, "...which are caused by pollution and germs, ..."
The clause between commas contains extra information which could be removed without making the whole sentence meaningless, so it does need to go between commas. Hope this helps!
Sure, it's not life and death. But try reading something that's badly-written--it can be very slow and frustrating. Using commas and other punctuation well can just make your reader's life a little bit easier.
+Me Me In a list with bullet points, you don't have to use full stops at the end of sentences. I'm a little inconsistent with it. The problem is that I also write for other people/companies, and they all have different style requirements. As a result, I mix up different styles sometimes. So, it is correct, but I should be more consistent, too!
+Sarah Altamimy Do you mean before or after 'however'? We often use a comma after 'however', but if you want to join two sentences using 'however', a semicolon is needed. There's no particular reason or logic; it's just the way it is!
This helped me a lot. Thank you.
Lastly, one final thing. You say "He told me that he wanted to quit and become a painter, which surprised me".That answer needs a comma Yet when i did the quiz I answered incorrectly on "He was very calm when he heard, which I found surprising." Why is that not correct? Is that not extra information? Thanks again.
+dappadandy Thanks for the comment! Not sure I understand your question. I checked the quiz, and the sentence "He was very calm when he heard, which I found surprising," is marked as correct. As you say, it is extra information, so the comma is necessary. If I've missed something please do let me know.
"However",in this case, is NOT a linking word. It's a CONJUNCTIVE ADVERB, and you can never continue after HOWEVER without a comma.
The correct answer is:
She didn't get the grades she needed; However, she got into the university in any case.
We have got two independent clauses and a conjunctive adverb, So its a comma splice.
"You cannot link two independent clauses with just a comma"
+Ako R Not sure I understand. When I say 'linking word', I really mean conjunctions, which includes conjunctive adverbs. In the sentence "She didn't get the grades she needed. However, she got into the university in any case," there's no way to use a comma before 'however,' between the two clauses, as I say in the video. So I'm not sure I understand your point! Please do get back to me if I've missed something.
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