What Not to do – Commas


Commas. Where to begin, and how do I count the ways in which they are abused…

Rule 1. In a series of three or more items with a singular conjunction, use a comma after each one, except the last.

A conjunction is and, but, nor, for, or, so, and yet.


The American flag is red, white, and blue.

Neither Keagan, Jeri, nor Frank took a nap today. 

Business names are an exception. The comma is usually omitted, like in Little, Brown and Company.

Rule 2. Parenthetic expressions are enclosed with a comma.


My Uncle, Christopher, likes to go fishing. 

Your laptop, you will be happy to know, is working again. 

The rain in Spain, you see, falls mainly on the plain. 

Dates are parenthetic as well.

Saturday, January 14, 1996

It is possible to omit the comma when writing a date.

19 September 2016

This is allowed because an actual word separates the numbers and so it is easy to understand. All grammar rules are put in place for clarity. Humans are hard to understand sometimes, and rules can help with that.

In direct address, a name or a title is considered a parenthetic expression.

Christine, my dear, surely you jest.

And so, young lad, you cannot have pudding, since you did not eat your meat.

Also, note here that I have a comma before since, since it is a conjunction.

Rule 3. Abbreviations and titles that follow a name are parenthetic expressions and should be punctuated correctly. Also, etc., i.e., and e.g. are abbreviations that need commas as well.

Christopher Greeenpeace, Attorney, was in attendance. Samantha Eng, P.H.D., was also in attendance. 

Crackers, cookies, pretzels, e.t.c., should go on the island counter along with the vegetable tray, i.e., that waste of money no one will eat. 

Since this post has turned out to be much longer than I expected, I will continue in the next with comma splices, and also we will get into restrictive and non restrictive clauses-when/if they need a comma.

I will also work on adding images into these post to make it more interesting. Grammar is dry as oven-roasted turkey-I recommend using a crock pot.