The comma is used very frequently but is also often used incorrectly.
There are four distinct uses of the comma:
Other uses of comma are:
Example: Our itinerary included Rome, London, and Madrid.
Example: The story gets off to a slow start, but it gets exciting toward the end.
Example: My father, who started this company, really knows his stuff.
Examples: Well, how do you do? Before you leave, turn off the lights.
Examples: The article in The Herald, our local paper, is about writing skills. Cabs in New York, I’m certain, obey the speed limit.
Examples: January 1, 1992 New York, NY Dear Shirley, Cordially, Albert Schweitzer, Ph.D.
Note 1: One bracketing comma will suffice if the weak interruption comes at the beginning or the end of the sentence.
[Although often wet, Britain has lots of sunshine. as opposed to Britain, although often wet, has lots of sunshine.]
Note 2: The main purpose of punctuation is to aid understanding; a subsidiary purpose is to aid flow. Use joining commas and pairing commas where this aids understanding and/or flow. As a general rule, the longer the sentence or the more complex the sentence, the greater the need for commas.
Note 3: When in doubt over where to use a comma, try reading the sentence out loud and, generally speaking, commas should be used where you pause for clarification or breath.
Note 4: There is some controversy over use of something called the serial or Oxford comma which is the last comma in this example: The colours in the Union Jack flag are red, white, and blue. Generally the serial comma is not used in Britain where it is regarded as unnecessary, but it is commonly used in the United States where it is thought helpful. However, many authors prefer to use a listing comma before ‘and’ or ‘or’ only when it is necessary to make the meaning clear.
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