How to Use Commas in English Writing

How to Use Commas in English Writing In this English Video lesson Alex is outlining the basic rules for using commas in English writing.

Alex is giving a punctuation lesson on using commas. The lesson is very helpful for those who are just learning to write in the English language or those who are preparing to get into university.

These are the basic rules for using commas:

1. Two independent clauses in a sentence linked by one of the linking words: for, and not, but, or, yet, so. Each of the independent clauses could be used separately. If there are at least two independent clauses in a sentence linked by one of these words you have to use a comma to separate them. If the sentences are quite short the use of the comma could be avoided like – I was running and I fell.

Example: Tom wanted to buy a pizza, but he didn’t have any money.

2. Three or more items in a row.

Example: I bought apples, tomatoes, and carrots.

3. Two or more adjectives describing someone or something.

Example: John is a smart, happy man.

4. The dependent clause in a sentence is followed by an independent clause.

The dependent clause cannot be used on its own, it necessarily needs the independent clause. The difference between dependent clauses and independent clauses is explained in the lesson on English Grammar – Phrases and Clauses – What’s the Difference?


Unless you are going, I won’t go.

Because it was raining, I didn’t go to school.

5. Extra information on someone or something, or an adjective clause

Example: Lucy, who is a tall man, climbed the tree.

6. Direct question or quote.

Example: Mark said, “I want some candy.”

7. Attention! You want to get someone’s attention.


Racing, John, is a very popular sport

You, sir, are not fit to drive.

8. Use of transition words: therefore, consequently, etc.

Example: Suzie didn’t study. Therefore, she didn’t pass.