How and when to use commas


proofreading courseComma rules don’t come easy for everybody, not necessarily because they’re difficult, but because no-one can seem to agree on what is the best way to use them. That’s where our proofreading course comes in!

Some people will say that rules depend on how the text sounds, inserting commas where they think the text should take a small break. Others will use the rules based on the strict guidance they’ve received at school.

However, there are certain comma rules which don’t leave any space for discussions. Our online proofreading course covers them thoroughly, with a number of exercises to give you practice.

Take a look below to understand where you absolutely need a comma, where you shouldn’t put one and where you can play around a bit.

  1. Separate items in a list with a comma, but don’t insert one before the last item. If you have to list more than two items, you need to separate them with commas. But in a list of nouns, you will have to separate the final two with “or” or “and”. For example, you will use comma like this: “A proofreading course can offer you guidance, advice, paid work (no comma here) and professional course materials.”
  2. Never separate a subject from its verb. This rule should go without saying, but people are still struggling with it. Even if the subject is very long and you feel like giving your reader a pause for a breath, a comma before the predicate is not acceptable. A bad example would be: “The tutor of my distance learning proofreading course and his most esteemed colleagues, are planning a charity event.”
  3. Always use a comma in the salutation and the closing expression of correspondence. These commas have the role to introduce what comes next and should be used like this: “My dear friend,” or “Kind regards, Ana”.
  4. Learn to write the dates. Indeed, month-day-year combinations require a comma before the year, but when you remove the day from the date, you have to drop the comma. A combination including only a month and a year doesn’t need a comma, because there aren’t two numbers side by side. For example, you will write “They will arrive in April 2016”.

All in all, comma rules can be confusing, especially when you are trying to keep up with the correct grammar. However, if you can master the significant rules above, your texts will become clearer and more professional, in perfect accordance with all the rules taught in proofreading courses.

See our proofreading course