Using commas in sentences
The following writing tip will help students, writers and all content creators establish good writing skills.
Using punctuation consistently across all your writing will improve the editorial quality of your work.
Examples of using commas in sentences
1. Add commas for clarity and to distinguish elements of the sentence
Determine, on the basis of the assessment so far, whether any major rewriting and restructuring are needed to suit the content, readership and delivery mode.
2. Add a comma to distinguish between two unrelated words
In the next example, ‘that’ could be associated with ‘the film’ to read ‘that the film was a big hit’. Adding the comma connects that to ‘Having said [that]’.
Having said that, the film was a big hit.
3. Punctuation with the word, ‘however’
I found some of the comments unhelpful. However, there were some that shed light on the issue.
I am not sure what I will do; however, I will let you know when I do know.
A comma before however is also becoming more common and is acceptable.
I am not sure what I will do, however I will let you know when I do know.
When stating an alternative, start the sentence with ‘however’.
However, I will let you know when I do know.
I will, however, let you know when I do know.
4. Using a comma before direct speech
The speaker rose to announce, ‘The meeting will start within half an hour’.
OR use a colon (more common for formal writing)
The speaker rose to announce: ‘The meeting will start within half an hour’.
Note in the above example: the close for the quotation (‘) is before the full stop because the sentence to which it belongs is part of the longer sentence.
More writing tips
- It is common practice to use single quotation marks.
- Use only one space after a full stop.
- Write sentences in plain English.
Read more publishing and writing tips by Susie Stevens.
Susie is a accredited editor with the NSW Society of Editors (Australia), has worked as an editor and publisher for over 25 years and now runs her own freelance business working for clients from around the world.
Email Professional Editor, Susie Stevens at Bold Type or call 0410 037 635.