Commas in Written English are very important. As writers, we should try to know how we can use it in order that the article we write is clear and easy to understand.
Articles or texts are information sources readers will get by reading them. Your messages will not be easily understood if your articles or texts consist of no commas, no periods, and no punctuations, etc.
The use of commas in written English
1. Commas are used to separate numbers. Example: 2,514,000
Commas are not used in decimals. Example: US$7.29
A comma is used before the year if only date is given (month, day, and year). Example: June 12, 2012. If there are two elements only (month and year), a comma is not used. For example: She started working in December 2011.
2. If the sentence begins with an address to someone, a comma is used to separate the name addressed from the rest of a sentence. Example: John, I want to talk to you. Fitri, can I call you tonight?
In personal letters, a comma is used with salutations. Example: Dear Dave,
However, if the letters are formal as in business letters, a comma is not used, especially in British English. Example: Dear Mr. Bulbeck
In American English, colon is used instead. Example: Dear Mrs. Smith:
At the end of a formal letter, an expression like “Sincerely” is used. A comma after sincerely is optional. Example: Sincerely, or you use it without a comma. Example: Sincerely
3. When we are writing geographic places, we use a coma. Example: I live Bandar Lampung, Lampung. This also applies to an address in a sentence. Example: My address is 12 Ratu Street, Bandar Lampung, Lampung, Indonesia.
4. In polite request, we usually use “please” at the end of a sentence. So, a comma is used before “please”. Example: Help me, please. Call me, please. However, if please is placed at the beginning, a comma is not necessary. Example: Please open the door.
5. The use of commas in Affirmative, Negative and Question Tags. Example: Yes, I can do it. No, she doesn’t like it. He lives here, doesn’t he?
6. Equally important adjectives are separated with a comma. Example: She’s a kind, beautiful girl. Compare the first sentence with this: She is a beautiful young woman. There is no comma between beautiful and young because the adjectives are not equally important.
7. Commas are used with certain adverbs (therefore, in fact, nevertheless, still, furthermore, moreover, too, and instead). Example: Moreover, we like it so much. An adverb is sometimes found in the middle of a sentence. Example: The manager, however, decided to call her back. You see that the adverb is enclosed with commas. With the adverbs then, so, and yet, a comma is optional. Example: Then, we went home. Then we went home.
8. Use commas with enumerations. Example: I have a car, a motor bike, a cart. However, commas are not used if items in an enumeration are separated by “and”, “or”, “nor” etc. Example: If you have a dog or a cat or a monkey.
9. A comma is used between main clauses separated by conjunction “and” or “but”. Example: Our car broke down, and the nearest garage was 2 km.
10. A long sentence with a sequence of verb is separated by commas. Example: The reporter arrived at the scene, took a photo, asked the people questions, and began writing a quick note. Compare it with this: The reporter arrived at the scene and took a photo and asked the people questions and wrote a quick note.
11. A comma is used with conditional sentences. Example: If you live there, she will visit you. If the main clause is at the beginning, a comma is not used. Example: She will visit you if you live there.
12. When direct speech is used in a sentence, a comma is used. Example: He said, “I don’t know it.” Compare it with this: “I don’t know it,” he said. More examples. Pay attention to the comma: “Are you okay?” she asked. She asked, “Are you okay?” There he is!” she shouted. She shouted, “There he is!”
13. Introductory clauses at the beginning of a complex sentence are separated by a comma. Example:
14. Additional information in an adjective clause is usually separated with a comma. Example: I met Mr. Smith, who came here yesterday. Jakarta, a capital of Indonesia, is very crowded. A comma is used because we think that the person we are talking to already knows Mr. Smith and Jakarta. “Who came here yesterday and a capital of Indonesia is only additional information.