We’ve been struggling with some commas here lately. So, I have enlisted the help of a certain shirtless Russian to put together some top ‘commandments to commas’ as a refresher — and to keep you in line.
1. Commas separate the elements in a series of three or more things.
a. Both the American and Russian flags are red, white and blue. As you may recall from previous grammar posts, the decision to add the comma before “and” is preferential. Its name is the Oxford comma and I personally hate it. I will judge you so hard if you use it.
2. Commas should be inserted after the following conjunctions when connecting two independent clauses: and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so.
a. It’s freezing outside, but I didn’t wear a heavy jacket since I’m in a bubble of my own device. An independent clause means that it can stand alone as its own sentence, even if the two were separated.
3. Use them after an introductory element.
a. While fly fishing shirtless, it never bothers me how arrogant I look.
4. Use them to set off parenthetical elements.
a. The Next Generation Cat Food Supply Summit, your industry’s top event, will never be held in Sochi because I am a dog lover.
5. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.
a. Only beautiful, successful, shirtless delegates will be permitted to attend the upcoming Cosmetics Compliance event.
6. Typographical Reasons
a. The event is in St. Petersburg, Russia.
b. Vlad last spoke at the summit held September 4, 2013.
Rule of thumb.
A somewhat general rule of them is to consider where you would take a breath or pause when reading copy in your head. That’s where the comma should find itself.