Commas: They're Not Just For English Majors Anymore.
A Few Other Situations


Another situation that causes a lot of confusion is using commas with quotes and quotation marks. DO NOT automatically use a comma every time you quote something.

Here are four quick tips:

  • Use commas to set off quotes off from the words used to introduce or identify the source:
Bambi cried, "Oh no! Godzilla!"
  • Do NOT use a comma, however, when the sentence includes MORE THAN the quote and the words used to introduce it:
Bambi cried "Oh no! Godzilla!" a moment too late.

The astronaut shouted "Hold it! I quit!" three seconds before ignition.
  • Do NOT use a comma when a quotation is introduced by the word, "that."
  • When a quotation is part of an introductory or other type of clause requiring a comma, place the comma INSIDE the quotation marks - ALWAYS!
When the captain shouted "Pancakes for everyone," the crew went crazy for joy.

In the song "The Monkeys Cried at Midnight," the girls' father sang of his sad childhood.

Items in a series (more than two items)

  • When listing items in a series, do not place a comma after the last item:
    Weeds, 60 Minutes, and South Park are grandma's favorite shows.
  • Placing a comma after the next-to-last item is optional, but sometimes necessary for clarity.
    confusing: Jenny has worked for many gun manufacturers, including Browning, Winchester and Smith and Wesson.

    clear: Jenny has worked for many gun manufacturers, including Browning, Winchester, and Smith and Wesson.
    (The added comma in the "clear" sentence makes plain that Winchester is distinct from Smith and Wesson.)

Rule of thumb: Pick a style and be consistent within a document.

  • Use commas to set off interjections (unless the situation requires an exclamation mark or question mark).
Ouch, quit stepping on my face. ("Ouch! Quit stepping on my face!" would work as well)

Hey, that really hurts.

Why, I outta murder youse guys.

Direct Address
  • Use commas to set off direct address (when one party is directly addressing another).
My friends, we must throw these fish immediately.

Please, Aunt Mozo, not in the face!

Whoa, dude, take a bath.

IE: Introductory Elements

CE: Contrasting Elements

2IC: Two Independent Clauses

CA: Compound or Coordinate Adjectives

NRE: Non-Restrictive Elements

A Few Other Situations (quotations, lists, etc.)