Read these 13 Commas Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Writing tips and hundreds of other topics.
Experts don't agree about this, but when in doubt, it is safer to use the serial comma. ("red, white, and blue" instead of "red, white and blue"). One of the reasons that it's safer to use this comma is to ensure clarity, especially in technical or legal writing. There was a court case where there was disagreement as to how the money should be divided among 3 people because of the lack of the serial comma. (The will said that "Bob, Betty and Jane" were to split the money. Because of the missing serial comma, there was confusion as to whether Bob got 50% and Betty & Jane split the other 50%, or whether each person got 1/3.) So to be safe, always use it.
If you're writing a full address in the middle of a sentence, complete with zip code, this is the correct format:
Ex: Our address is 12 Brook Lane, Apt. 3, Kansas City, MO 64011.
If you are not providing the zip code, this is the format:
Ex: Our address is 12 Brook Lane, Apt. 3, Kansas City, Missouri.
(If you want to abbreviate the state, it has to be the old formal abbreviation, which in this case would be "Mo.")
This is determined solely by the writer. If a comma is used before the phrase, it must also be used after the phrase and vice versa (unless the sentence naturally requires one of the commas.)
Ex: We require a letter from your bank, on bank letterhead, stating that you are an authorized signer.
Ex: We require a letter from your bank on bank letterhead stating that you are an authorized signer.
Use a comma after an introductory request or command.
Look, we've discussed this before.
You see, I haven't finished my report.
Please remember, Christmas will be here soon.
Exception: "Please remember that ..."
When "that" is added, "please remember" becomes the main verb and is no longer an introductory element.
Don't confuse a compound sentence with a compound predicate. A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses, each containing a subject and a predicate.
Susan finished college, and she is looking for a job.
A compound predicate contains one subject and at least two predicates.
Susan finished college and is looking for a job.
A comma is not needed with a compound predicate.
Commas are not needed after "ordinary introductory adverbs" or "short introductory phrases" that answer such questions as:
WHEN: tomorrow, yesterday, recently, early next week, in the morning, soon, in five years, in 2004
HOW OFTEN: occasionally, often, frequently, once in a while
WHERE: here, in this case, at the meeting
WHY: for that reason, because of this situation