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Commas Join Things Together

COMMAS JOIN ITEMS IN LISTS

    I used water, lemons, and sugar to make lemonade.

    Items in a list must be joined with commas. Use the word “and” before the last word.

    I need a piece of paper, a pen, and a pencil.

    Candy, cake, and ice cream are sweet.

    Two items are not a list. They are joined by the word “and” without a comma.

    I need paper and pens.

    Candy and cake are sweet.



TWO SENTENCES CAN BE JOINED BY A COMMA AND ONE OF THE F.A.N.B.O.Y.S. THE F.A.N.B.O.Y.S. ARE “FOR,” “AND,” “NOR,” “BUT,” “OR,” “YET,” AND “SO.”

    Two separate sentences

    I don’t like the music. I am going to see the show.

    Cats are beautiful. Dogs are friendly.

    Joined into one sentence

    I don’t like the music, but I’m going to see the show.

    Cats are beautiful, and dogs are friendly.



COMMAS CAN JOIN A DESCRIPTION TO A PERSON, PLACE, OR THING

    Information as part of the sentence

    Jennifer Lawrence is an Academy award nominee. She is set to star in The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Sagittaria is a genus of plant. Saggitaria is also known as Katniss.

    Information joined with a comma before and after

    Jennifer Lawrence, an Academy Award nominee, is set to star in The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Sagittaria, a genus of plant, is also known as Katniss.



COMMAS JOIN “WHICH” CLAUSES TO SENTENCES

    The word “which” introduces information that is always true of the thing being described. Use a comma before “which.”

    America uses a lot of gas, which is a petroleum product.

    Apple makes the iPad, which remains the best selling tablet.

    The word “that” tells you that you are only talking about a particular part or kind of the thing being described. Do not use a comma with “that.”

    America uses a lot of gas that is imported.

    He has an iPad that has a yellow cover.



COMMAS JOIN QUOTATIONS TO SENTENCES

    “I don’t know,” I said, “but I’ll find out.”

    “She’s not very nice,” I replied.



COMMAS CAN JOIN A FRAGMENT TO THE BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE

    If you are putting a sentence fragment first, use a comma.

    After the rain stopped, I planted flowers.

    Because I want to be in shape, I am exercising every day.

    If the sentence fragment comes after the part that can stand on its own, do not use a comma.

    I planted flowers after the rain stopped..

    I am exercising every day because I want to be in shape.

BMCC Writing Center

Front Desk (General Information)
writingcenter@bmcc.cuny.edu
(212) 220-1384

Franklin Winslow, Director
Fwinslow@bmcc.cuny.edu
(212) 220-8000 x5167

Mailing Address
BMCC Writing Center
Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
199 Chambers Street, Room S510
New York, NY 10007

Hours of Operation

The BMCC Writing Center will be closed Wednesday, 12/21/2017 – Monday, 1/1/2018. We will reopen on Tuesday, 1/2/2018. Happy Holidays!