From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Typography (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Typography, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of articles related to Typography on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the importance scale.
WikiProject Writing systems (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article falls within the scope of WikiProject Writing systems, a WikiProject interested in improving the encyclopaedic coverage and content of articles relating to writing systems on Wikipedia. If you would like to help out, you are welcome to drop by the project page and/or leave a query at the project’s talk page.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.

Miscellaneous discussion[edit]

Once upon a time, I didn't know how to use commas. - LOLMAO -Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:02, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Most people at Wiki still don't. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:49, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the section "Names for comma", which was a list of other languages' names for the comma. That's what Wiktionary is for (see Wiktionary:comma). This article has interlanguage links for most of the languages that were in the list anyway. -User:Caesura(t) 17:58, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Does anybody have information on the history of the comma? How did it evolve to be the shape and use it is today. Why is it that in modern Chinese, the comma looks and functions exactly the same as in western languages?

Question: Which category does the comma in "If the information is necessary, no commas should be used." fall into? I ask because if it is mean to be parenthetical, it sort of contradicts itself:)

That's not parenthetical, it's introductory (I'm unsure of the precise terminology). The reverse ("No commas should be used if the information is necessary.") would not use a comma. RadioKirk talk to me 20:32, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Would someone please dig up an appropriately licensed image and mention how asian commas differ from the ones used in european languages please? --Ssokolow 07:51, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

What about comma usage in shortened newspaper headlines?

We don't have this usage of commas in either the UK or Australia as far as I know. How did it start?--CharlieP 03:16, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I think it started to conserve space and money (like by sending it by telegraph) and it just became accepted as a part of journalism over the years. It's used (in some places) as a replacement for the word "and", like this: Bush, Cheny announce blah blah blah. I don't know if some of my sources are credible, but their explanation seems plausible.
Ah yes, this style was satirised by a headline in The Onion: "Clinton Feels Nation's Pain, Breasts" 04:39, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

In the grammar section the second bullet point of point 2. is:
"I walked home and left shortly after." -- Although "I walked home" is independent, "left shortly after" is dependent on the first part of the sentence
I don't see what this has to do with commas. 20:36, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

It's a counter-example. The first example under point 2 is of using a comma to separate an independent clause followed by another independent clause. The second example under point 2 demonstrates how that rule does not apply when the second clause is dependent. The second example under point 3 demonstrates the same thing in a different context; there, it's contrasted with the case when the dependent clause precedes the independent clause. I came to this page to check whether it's generally considered incorrect or just unnecessary to use a comma to separate an independent clause followed by a dependent clause, so I think that those counter-examples are useful. Perhaps it would be even better if they were combined in a single main point (between points 1 and 2) with a clearer statement about the degree of incorrectness of using a comma in that case? SciVo 01:30, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

In August, customers opened at least 50 new accounts; in September, only about 20.

Regarding the usage of a comma in quotations, the current article states that commas should always appear inside the quotations. However, while conceding the general rule, some argue that commas in the U.S. should be placed outside the quotation marks if used with a single letter or number. Source:
~The buried treasure was marked on the map with a large "X".
~The only grade that will satisfy her is an "A".
~On this scale, the highest ranking is a "1", not a "10".
Does anyone have a definitive rule on this? 19:08, 3 August 2006 (UTC), you are after a definitive rule. But what such rule be like? Certainly it could not be one that everyone agrees on; and certainly not one that is compelling by its logical appeal, or any other quality. The fact is that people will always disagree about punctuation; no rule is "right" or "definitive", in most matters of punctuation. Rules are not delivered on stone tablets from Mount Sinai. Noetica 22:46, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Noetica: Pardon my use of the term "definitive." I'll just settle for a general rule with a list of exceptions.
No problem, Anonymous. I think the present treatment of the topic you mention is vague; but I am reluctant to edit much here, because I think the whole article needs work and I haven't got time for that. Take a look at Full stop, where the matter is dealt with better. In fact, I would like to see the interactions of quotes and all other punctuation marks dealt with comprehensively at Quotation_mark, with links from all relevant articles. That would be rational and efficient, and enable consistency. Noetica 02:09, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

comma and years[edit]

To English experts: In a narrative sentence, is there any instance where a year (such as 2006) is not followed by a comma, when the year is not already followed by some other punctuation mark, such as a period, semi-colon, parenthesis, etc. Thanks. Hmains 20:14, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Good question on an issue I wish more people would pay attention to. If we're talking about month and year only, such as "June 2007," then the answer is yes, sometimes. For example, "temperatures in July 2007 were slightly higher than normal" would be correct. If we're talking about the American style with month, day, and year, then the answer is no, there is no instance in which the year is not followed by some kind of punctuation. For example, "temperatures on July 2, 2007, were slightly higher than normal" is correct. See Chicago Manual of Style, 6.46: "In the month-day-year style of dates, the style most commonly used in the United States and hence now recommended by Chicago, commas are used both before and after the year. In the day-month-year system-sometimes awkward in regular text, though useful in material that requires many full dates-no commas are needed. Where month and year only are given, or a specific day (such as a holiday) with a year, neither system uses a comma." Lowell33 19:31, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Interesting news story[edit]

"Comma quirk irks Rogers": a contract with a misplaced comma costs a company millions. violet/riga (t) 22:20, 30 August 2006 (UTC)


It seems that comma comes from... 'comma'... (Latin), (it is a latinization of κόμμα, from Greek/Ancient Greek)~ ...and komma (sorry about the anglicization) is derived from the verb κοπτω, meaning "I cut" [1] The relationship is pretty much the same as that of "lemma" to the verb λέιπω (leipo), "I leave."Lequn58 (talk) 22:03, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Comma and years: answer[edit]

From above: "In a narrative sentence, is there any instance where a year (such as 2006) is not followed by a comma, when the year is not already followed by some other punctuation mark, such as a period, semi-colon, parenthesis, etc. Thanks."


"The year 2006 is not a leap year." "Maria said that 1992 was an excellent year for Cabernet." "Oliver graduated from high school in 1968 and entered college in 1971 after his military service." "The stock market crash of 1929 began the Great Depression." "I can't find the July 2004 files." Cognita 08:11, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Comma and dates II[edit]

Can English punctuation expert look at following text and then explain where commas should be added or removed and 'WHY'. Thanks

The 1st Georgia Regiment was raised on November 4, 1775 at Savannah, Georgia for service with the Continental Army. The regiment saw action in Florida in 1777 and 1778, the Siege of Savannah and the Siege of Charleston. The regiment was captured along with the rest of the American southern army at Charleston, South Carolina on May 20, 1780 by the British Army. The regiment was reformed on January 1, 1783 as the Georgia Battalion and disbanded on November 15, 1783.

Hmains 22:09, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Five years and a day later...
None of the commas you used need to be removed, but five commas should be added. Here is how the paragraph should be punctuated, with explanations in green square brackets, [like this], immediately following each added comma, which is in boldface green (,).

The 1st Georgia Regiment was raised on November 4, 1775,[In the month-day-year date format, the year is treated as a parenthetic expression; therefore it is set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. See Comma#Month, day, year.] at Savannah, Georgia,[basically the same reason, because the state is considered a parenthetic expression. See Comma#In geographical names.] for service with the Continental Army. The regiment saw action in Florida in 1777 and 1778, the Siege of Savannah,[This comma is to avoid ambiguity, to make it clear that the writer is listing three classes of events: the action in Florida in 1777 and 1778 and the sieges of the two cities; without the comma, "the Siege of Savannah" and "the Siege of Charleston" could be read as two actions that took place "in Florida in 1777 and 1778". Although some readers would know that neither Savannah nor Charleston is or ever was in Florida, grammatically the absence of a comma would probably lead readers who do not know where those two cities are to misunderstand the sentence. This is exactly like the "Sam and Tom" example in Comma#In lists.] and the Siege of Charleston. The regiment was captured along with the rest of the American southern army at Charleston, South Carolina,[same reason as after "Georgia" above] on May 20, 1780,[same reason as after "1775" above] by the British Army. The regiment was reformed on January 1, 1783,[ditto] as the Georgia Battalion and disbanded on November 15, 1783.

Therefore, the correctly punctuated paragraph formatted as you wrote it originally is:

The 1st Georgia Regiment was raised on November 4, 1775, at Savannah, Georgia, for service with the Continental Army. The regiment saw action in Florida in 1777 and 1778, the Siege of Savannah, and the Siege of Charleston. The regiment was captured along with the rest of the American southern army at Charleston, South Carolina, on May 20, 1780, by the British Army. The regiment was reformed on January 1, 1783, as the Georgia Battalion and disbanded on November 15, 1783.

--Jim10701 (talk) 19:42, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

What about use in other langueges?[edit]

What about use in other langueges, i.e. in Chinese?--Nixer 19:11, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree, I would love to see a section about how comma use differs in other languages! Punctuation is too often seen as so natural, we think it should work the same even in different languages. [citation needed] Dranorter (talk) 18:18, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
The lack of such a section is especially annoying since (IDEOGRAPHIC COMMA) redirects to comma but is never mentioned in the article. I can think of a few simple options:
  • Create a section ("In other languages"?) with a brief description and links to Chinese punctuation, Written Chinese, Japanese punctuation#Comma, and [1] (I can't find anything suggesting it's used in Korean, [2] lists only "Chinese" and "Japanese").
  • Change to be a suitable stub, as above (but presumably this violates article naming conventions).
  • Create ideographic comma as above, but I'm not sure it's the most suitable name — the top Google results for "ideographic comma" refer to it as a Unicode character.
Additionally, there aren't really enough sources. Nobody seems to agree on a name apart from the Unicode name (I've seen "enumeration comma", "enumeration mark", and even "serial comma"). [3] suggests a "normal" (albeit fullwidth) comma is sometimes used in lists. ⇌Elektron 18:01, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Started a section. -- Beland (talk) 18:22, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Serial comma[edit]

The note on the serial comma before "and" makes it look as though it is required. Somebody needs to reword it to make sure that this misassertion is done away with. BioTube 05:59, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

It is required. What source says it isn't required? --Hhoblit (talk) 23:40, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

For the record, there is no consensus among writers or editors on the use of the serial comma. Just as there are several style guides advocating its use, there are also those that take an opposing view. Indeed, Wikipedia itself is neutral on the issue of usage, and this neutrality should be reflected in any WP article about the subject.
Given historical, regional and educational differences, any personal bias here is perhaps understandable. However, the version referred to above needed to be toned down. On returning to this article to do just that, I see that the matter has already been resolved satisfactorily. --Error -128 (talk) 19:47, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

left to right vs. right to left usage...[edit]

The comma was apparently invented in languages with left-to-right writing, and the shape of the comma itself seems to imply a left-to-right flow. When I've seen the comma used in right-to-left languages, such as Hebrew, it seemed backwards and out of place. Does anyone know if such languages have started using reverse commas (the mirror image of the commas we're used to). Such commas would (IMO) fit much better with right-to-left writing. -The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 10:02, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

Adjective examples[edit]

Remarkably the article did not discuss the use of commas to separate co-ordinate adjectives! I've added this. However, I'd appreciate it if someone who knows more about grammar than I do could check/improve my tree frog example, because I'm not sure that the comma alone can control whether "lazy" and "devious" are co-ordinate. -- pde 21:46, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

I've now done some work on that, pde. It still needs to be made more rigorous; but I think that the whole article needs sorting out, first. The layout needs overhauling, and conventions ought to settled on for the punctuation (!) throughout. I strongly believe that, especially where punctuation is the topic, use of marks should be kept under tight control. This can easily be achieved. For example, we can consistently indent examples, and then not enclose them in quotes. And we can have recourse to italics for mention as opposed to use. For example:
  • In it's time, the apostrophe is used to mark omission of i from the word is. But in it's been too long, 's stands for has.
This is cleaner and easier to follow than the alternative that mixes examples of punctuation with a peppering of punctuation marks in the text itself:
  • In "it's time", the apostrophe is used to mark omission of "i" from the word "is". But in "it's been too long", "'s" stands for "has".
- Noetica 00:40, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Strange Comma Usage[edit]

My girlfriend uses a comma when writing this to me on MSN: "bye, sweety." Is this comma correct? I find nothing on it. She said, "it's a vocative... in portuguese, you need it." So it's apparently used that way in Portuguese (Rio, Brazilian dialect), but I could find nothing on that here. Also, I have noticed that this page only speaks of comma grammar in English. It seems to me that we need information on its usage in other languages. It doesn't seem like it would fit on this page, so my suggestion is each language's usage of the comma be made into its own page (and posibly similar usages being put in the same place.) Thus the information on the comma in English would be moved to its own page and more universal usages and information would be retained here. Any thoughts on this? SadanYagci 04:52, 20 February 2007 (UTC) SelahBlogg

I don't know all the rules for writing commas in English. But I think your girlfriend is right. Addressing (or vocative) should be separated by commas. People often forget that greetings (hi, bye, good morning) are not the part of addressing, so they should be separated too. As for my language, Czech, this rule is valid, but very few people know it. It is possible that the situation in English is different. --Pajast 16:31, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
English grammar refers to "nouns of direct address" rather than vocative, a grammatical case. They are always separated by a comma. Janko (talk) -Preceding comment was added at 20:32, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

comma as mark of s/v beginning of main clause[edit]

Just as many uses can be put under insertion ( which the article admirably does), other uses can be gathered under this: a comma signals the reader to prepare for a new main clause subject/verb. Anything in front of this is marked off so the reader can process key grammatical units as the base of thinking. Inroductory phrases, modifiers, subordiante clauses and even other main clauses are all treated the same. Organizing principles help learners while shedding light on general function. 00:32, 21 March 2007 (UTC)Lawrence Flesher

Dates and commas[edit]

In British English, should there be a comma after the year 2007 in either of the following sentences?

  • In July 2007 John moved to London to look for work.
  • On 22 September 2007 he obtained employment as a teacher.

If so, why? Thanks in advance for any input. --Daemonic Kangaroo (talk) 18:51, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Although I'm not British, I'm pretty confident that, yes, DK, there should be a comma after 2007 in both examples. They both begin with an introductory phrase, and I can't imagine any reason why British English would differ on that. (See Point 1 in the "Grammar" section.)
It's a pet peeve of mine because Americans often omit that comma due to the widespread confusion over how to punctuate dates in the month/day/year format. For example, they'll write, "On September 22, 2007 he obtained employment," even though they know to write, "On September 22, he obtained employment." It's maddening. Lowell33 (talk) 23:18, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


I think the examples should be placed in quotations to better separate the encyclopedic text from the examples. Agreed? — Deckiller 20:24, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

"Soup of the day" example problematic[edit]

The initial semicolon seemed unequivocally wrong; I replaced it with a colon. The sentence now reads:

We had soup of the day: sole meunière, interestingly prepared with lime juice instead of lemon juice, and an unusual variety of parsley; a fruit salad; and a good port to finish off.

--I still have a problem with "...lemon juice, and an unusual...." A better sentence would be "We had: soup of the day, sole meunière, interestingly prepared with an unusual variety of parsley and with lime juice instead of lemon; a fruit salad; and a good port to finish off."

I think I'll change the example again, accordingly. Please let me know if I am mistaken in this.

Cyrusc (talk) 17:20, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Ah, but no. The example with the soup was absolutely correct according to well-established principles. I have altered your alteration, and changed the example so that it looks more plausible to you (with the word then), and still contrasts with the example that follows it (which uses a colon). I have also fixed the text introducing these two examples, to make it clear that we use only semicolons as separators if we use any semicolons. The main point: these lists are indeed complex and unusual, and therefore call for less usual punctuation to keep things readable. That less usual punctuation can occasionally look strange! But it is needed, and well supported by precedent. So the text now is this:
The comma is used to separate items in lists.
  • However, if any of the individual items in the list is complex and long, or contains a comma itself, it is best to use only semicolons (;) to separate the items, and possibly to introduce the list with a colon (:):
    • We had soup of the day; then sole meunière, interestingly prepared with an unusual variety of parsley and with lime juice instead of lemon; greens; a fruit salad; and a good port to finish off.
    • There were several tasks facing them: shaping the mast, for which they could use an adze or, with some difficulty, an axe; raising the finished mast; and caulking the timbers with whatever suitable material could be found.
-¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T- 21:00, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

I thought Sole Meunière was the soup of the day! Thanks for setting me straight. Cyrusc (talk) 20:27, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.[edit]

Should there be a comma in this sentence?

She was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who wrote a number of works for her to sing.

I thought I knew the answer but keep changing my opinion. Thanks, Wanderer57 (talk) 03:22, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

There SHOULD be a comma in "She was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who wrote a number of works for her to sing", but there should NOT be one in "Don't use commas, which aren't necessary". The latter might be better, in fact, as "Don't use commas that aren't necessary" or (if this is what is meant) "Don't use commas, since they aren't necessary". Snalwibma (talk) 14:43, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
No there shouldn't. It's not necessary. The conjunction is 'who' - no punctuation is needed to connect the clauses. People lacking space in their 'phonological loop' - their 'scratch pad memory' - will have difficulty understanding the sentence because it is too long for them. But it is absolutely not grammatically incorrect.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:03, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Who is a pronoun, not a conjunction. Specifically, it is a relative pronoun introducing a relative clause. Relative clauses are always dependent clauses. In this example, the relative clause is used adjectivally to supply additional information about the noun Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is called a parenthetic expression, since approximately the same information would be communicated if the dependent clause were enclosed in parentheses instead of separated by a comma:

She was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (who wrote a number of works for her to sing).

Since it is a parenthetic expression, it definitely should be separated by a comma.--Jim10701 (talk) 18:43, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Sure. Or, if you want to avoid the that/which distinction (which has to do with restrictive vs. non-restrictive elements), the sentence could be written even more simply as "Do not use unnecessary commas." Lowell33 (talk) 19:57, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Commas are supposed to be used to clarify but most people do not apply the same level of analysis you're discussing here. Most people insert a comma exactly where in spoken language they'd be saying 'uh' or 'um'. Commas are supposed to clarify. They are not supposed to be speed bumps and they are not supposed to irritate either. Read English written in England and see the difference. It reads smoother. It's so much more logical. And you will notice there are absolutely no commas in this graf comment nor should there be. It's just a question of writing to be read and not to be heard - the fundamental difference between 'English' on one side of the pond and the other where the language actually originates.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:59, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

"Read English written in England and see the difference. It reads smoother. It's so much more logical." OH that does make me laugh. In my experience the worst over-users of the comma are British! Derekbd (talk) 18:25, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Parenthetical expressions and nonrestrictive expressions[edit]

I've heard that there's a rule for commas with parenthetical expressions and a rule for commas with nonrestrictive expressions. Are these two separate rules for commas, or the same rule but explained in different ways? -Preceding unsigned comment added by Herro440 (talkcontribs) 16:40, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Source for rules[edit]

This article contains a long list of would-be "rules" about where to use commas in English. Does anyone know where they come from? If there are no sources, then I guess it should be trimmed quite significantly, particularly as some of the points are potentially controversial. If there are sources, they ought to be mentioned explicitly. This kind of article shouldn't be used to promote people's personal (or even collective) views on punctuation.--Kotniski (talk) 12:41, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

In fact I've kind of rewritten it to make it a bit less essayish, but it could still do with sourcing to style manuals etc.--Kotniski (talk) 14:04, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Propose moving this to Comma, as it seems to be the primary topic. Please discuss at Talk:Comma.--Kotniski (talk) 10:23, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Move completed.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 02:40, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

comma after geographical name[edit]

The article asserts that not all style manuals require a comma after a place-name parenthetical (like after "Georgia" in "The city of Atlanta, Georgia, is quite large."). I would like a citation for this assertion, as I recall having encountered no manuals which do not require that second comma. (talk) 17:47, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

It didn't say that any manuals said that, only that the usage was not universal. However that seems obvious (and is implied anyway by the fact that style manuals feel the need to address the point) so I've removed the statement.--Kotniski (talk) 18:40, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

filled in nines[edit]

The intro reads "Some typefaces render [the comma] as ... a small filled-in number 9". I think that what is meant is that the rendering has the appearance of a number nine that is filled in. It does not mean that the comma is typeset precisely as a number 9, and then filled in. It does not mean that some font designers code the comma as a subscript 9.

Someone keeps adding "citation needed". The correct reading of this sentence is so obvious that a citation is not needed, and will likely never be found. Just type a comma in Times. (If the editor is taking the wrong reading that I mention, perhaps they can find a better wording, rather than requesting a citation?) (talk) 18:28, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I have been adding [citation needed] because I would like to see some verification of that based on my original readings. Per your description, I won't add [citation needed] any longer, but I'm adding [clarification needed] so someone can rewrite in the way you've described it. Currently it does not read the way you've described it. ~ Wadester16 (talk) 19:15, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand. What is wrong with the current wording ("with the appearance of a small filled-in number nine")? How can it be made clearer? Do you want the word "subscript" added, or what? Go ahead and make it clearer yourself, if you wish! SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 20:34, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Need citation for Truss reference[edit]

The source given for this quotation:

"Lynne Truss says that this is equally true in the UK and has been a slow, steady trend for at least a century:" Nowadays... A passage peppered with commas - which in the past would have indicated painstaking and authoritative editorial attention - smacks simply of no backbone. People who put in all the commas betray themselves as moral weaklings with empty lives and out-of-date reference books."


(Truss 2004 p 97-98)

but isn't adequate, because the article on this author shows several publications in 2004. One would have thought that the quotation might come from her well-known Eats Shoots and Leaves but its pub date is given as 2005. No footnote is attached to the quotation, just a ref in parens after it.

My Eats, Shoots and Leaves (note comma) is dated 2003.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:02, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

The Yob's Comma[edit]

Truss 2003 pp 97-98:

Two particular uses of the comma are proliferating and need to be noted. One is the comma memorably described in the 'This English' column of the New Statesman in the late 1970s as 'the yob's comma': 'The yob's comma, of course, has no syntactical value: it is the equivalent of a fuddled gasp for breath, as the poor writer marshalls his battered thoughts.'—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:02, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Need reference for Truss quotation[edit]

Sorry, forgot to sign.

The source given for the quotation "Lynne Truss says that this is equally true in the UK and has been a slow, steady trend for at least a century:" Nowadays... a passage peppered with commas - which in the past would have indicated painstaking and authoritative editorial attention - smacks simply of no backbone. People who put in all the commas betray themselves as moral weaklings with empty lives and out-of-date reference books." is (Truss 2004 pp 97-98)

Thank goodness for Lynne Truss. Nobody could have said it better. She takes the words out of everyone's mouth. Now if only the people writing here could catch on. Let's run it by once again because it really hits the nail on the head. And pick up the book if you can - you'll love it.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
A passage peppered with commas - which in the past would have indicated painstaking and authoritative editorial attention - smacks simply of no backbone. People who put in all the commas betray themselves as moral weaklings—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

but isn't adequate, because the article on this author shows several publications in 2004. One would have thought that the quotation might come from her well-known Eats Shoots and Leaves but its pub date is given as 2005. No footnote is attached to the quotation, just a ref in parens after it.

You missed the whole point with her book. It's Eats, Shoots and Leaves. You shouldn't even be commenting here if you can't get that right. And for the record: I believe the quote is very much from her famous book.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Oreskios (talk) 20:04, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Comma after a state[edit]

Since that issue belongs here, please see this and this. Art LaPella (talk) 01:19, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Let's reach a consensus against this kind of objectionable and useless comma after the name of a state. Thanks to everyone who supports. ChildofMidnight (talk) 03:16, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. The state is parenthetical, and every usage guide I've ever consulted, including the Chicago Manual of Style, states that it should be offset by commas. Do you have any authority supporting your proposed change?Lowell33 (talk) 18:41, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. You don't have the patent on the language. The English do. You're one of few countries with state issues anyway. And neither you nor anyone else here can set a grammatical or style rule. People make grammar and style through usage - not the other way around. Your one and sole criterion should be 'does it read without a comma'. Because you never use a comma if it's not absolutely needed. Read Lynne Truss' words: 'no backbone', 'moral weaklings', 'empty lives' - get the picture?—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Please remember that this article is not part of a style manual. We can describe actual usage, and we can describe or quote what style manuals and other "authorities" have said. This isn't a place for pushing any opinions we may hold personally about what is good or bad style - go to WP:MOS if you enjoy that sort of thing.--Kotniski (talk) 14:49, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Kotinski is right no matter what comes after his comment. It's not only bad ethics to attempt such a thing - it's also an impossible task and wrought with very specific dangers when you start tramping on others' toes. You need advice how to contribute to Wiki? Fine. Read this article. But read other sources too. And don't use this article as a scapegoat. And whoever recommends coming here is either thinking of something else or else totally out of line.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:19, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I considered that, but WP:COMMA says "See the Comma article for general information about usage", which devolves authority on this point to this article. To change it there would require something like "See the Comma article, but disregard the part about a comma after a state." Anyway, ChildofMidnight hasn't responded again, so perhaps this issue is closed for now. As for enjoying this, my main contribution is proofreading the Main Page including its commas, but that leads me into conflict with editors who disagree. The right place to argue comma rules is either here or at MOS, but surely not at Main Page-related pages. Art LaPella (talk) 20:03, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
MOS certainly shouldn't be devolving its authority to mainspace articles. If it appears to be doing that, it needs to be reworded. (Maybe I'll try making such a change over there and see if it sticks.)--Kotniski (talk) 12:19, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
OK. Art LaPella (talk) 21:03, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Commas in Numbers and not years[edit]

Anyone know the history of why we put a comma in 4-digit numbers and not 4-digit years? I suspect it is to avoid confusing the day with the first digit of the year:

July 4, 1,776 User:Dedwarmo 06:45, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 (UTC)

Surely it's because of how those numbers are read out aloud? The comma in a four-digit number indicates which numeral is going to be used for the thousands (or millions, for seven-digit numbers). Hence 1776, as 1,776, would be 'one-thousand, seven-hundred and seventy-six'. But when you read out a date, you use a different phrasing because we (usually) concentrate on the century (the hundreds) rather the millennium. Hence, 1776 as a year would be 'seventeen seventy-six', 1066 is 'ten sixty-six', and so on. Our current century is different of course, so rather than 'twenty oh-nine' it's normally 'two-thousand and nine'. But the relevant reading and grammatical rules were being devised centuries ago. Cheers, Neale -Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:20, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
It's not about reading aloud. Things should never be written to be read aloud. Unless it's George Bernard Shaw stage directions. What's written is meant to be read - and when you start forgetting that is when you start to get language of the pathetic quality found at Wikipedia.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Commas after 'however'[edit]

Something should be written on when to use a comma after 'however'.

'However', when used at the beginning of a sentence to mean 'nevertheless', should have a comma, while on the other hand, a comma should not be used after 'however' when it is used to mean 'to whatever degree' according to Mignon Fogarty.

Under which section is this comma use covered? -Preceding unsigned comment added by Fogus (talkcontribs) 07:44, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Differences in Am/Br usage[edit]

I am going to change "In American English, the comma (like most other punctuation marks) is included inside a quotation, no matter what the circumstances." because I think it is misleading. No other punctuation mark is included inside a quotation, no matter what the circumstances in any for of English. In fact, except for the comma, punctuation marks are only included if they are part of the text quoted, as is explained immediately below. This makes the comma in American English here the exception rather than being like other punctuation marks. Thehalfone (talk) 10:35, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

That's not advisable unless you are a professor of British English and unless you can rewrite that graf above so both you and everyone else are clear what you're prattling about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:53, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
In American English, commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks. See or any College English 101 style manual. Aside from being the "American" rule, it makes for much easier reading given that the eye searches the baseline as a shortcut in identifying the separation of words. Even books set in type in the U.K. for American readers will have commas and periods inside the quotes notwithstanding the use of British spelling elsewhere. See, e.g., Simon R. Green's Nightside series. (Which, while I am on the topic, is an excellent example of the general rule that one does not require a comma in every single sentence.) kcylsnavS (kalt) 01:32, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Usage with because[edit]

Could someone add a few sentences on when/when not to use a comma before because.Smallman12q (talk) 01:44, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Arabic reversed comma[edit]

Not sure where this should go, but it's probably worth mentioning the reversed comma character used in Arabic and Persian languages. --neatnate (talk) 02:49, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

The Lost Art[edit]

Grammar, it's becoming a lost art. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Lack of punctuation, shows a slovenly dissrespect for the language. Dissrespect is everywhere these days. It's time it was insisted upon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:35, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Decreased usage[edit]

I have not seen a decline in comma usage, save in novels and textbooks. In casual writing, the comma is preserved in its intended usage. I've always thought it to be a British thing, but if it's also in the US, it must be in publications only. AmericanLeMans (talk) 01:46, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Uses- conjunction[edit]

I am sorry I have made a messy edit whilst trying to link the word conjunction to the article grammatical conjunction.Stranger on the shore (talk) 15:17, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

No probem. I have sorted it out for you. What you should have done is [[Grammatical conjunction|conjunction]], which displays the text after the pipe (|) (in this case, "conjunction") but links to the text before it (in this case, "grammatical conjunction". See WP:MOSLINK for guidance - or, better still, WP:PIPELINK. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 16:35, 13 August 2010 (UTC)Thanks, I hope I can remember that It will be useful when I can find the pipe character, till then I can come here and cut and paste one of these---|||---!Stranger on the shore (talk) 14:15, 14 August 2010 (UTC)


Mr. Kershner says, "You should know how to use a comma."
Mr. Kershner says: "You should know how to use a comma."
be more correct? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:30, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Subject-predicate comma[edit]

The new teacher, couldn't keep the class under control. Christopher Altman, assistant professor of English at Onondaga Community College and author of Telling the Truth to Deceive: How Advertisers Manipulate the English Language, calls this the subject-predicate comma error ( Any objections to incorporating this into the article?—Biosketch (talk) 20:17, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Space after comma, use as apostrophe.[edit]

That there should be a space after a comma is obvious to most people, but I have had more than one person insist on writing the comma like this,without a space. I've even had someone use it interchangeably with an apostrophe when contracting words. Is there a particular school of thought behind this, or do I happen to know a disproportionate amount of typographic loonies? --GSchjetne (talk) 21:05, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

The latter would be my guess.Derekbd (talk) 18:29, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Commas indicating pauses[edit]

Usually, though not always, a written comma corresponds to a spoken pause (at least in English). I can't find mention of this in the article. Could someone who knows a source that discusses this put it into the article? Duoduoduo (talk) 16:00, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

It's a reasonable addition. If you check a comprehensive style guide like the Chicago Manual of Style or Oxford guide to style, or a grammar guide like Fowler's Modern English Usage, Garner's Modern American Usage, etc., you'll likely find something that you can use for this article. --Airborne84 (talk) 18:59, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

removing redundant list example with errors[edit]

I am going to remove the following example with its explanation:

At times the use of a serial comma can be essential to remove all ambiguity. For instance compare both of these two sentences:
  • I dedicate this book to my parents, Albert Einstein and JK Rowling.


  • I dedicate this book to my parents, Albert Einstein, and JK Rowling.

Although grammatically incorrect before dependent clauses, commas are often used to separate clauses; the first sentence could possibly be misinterpreted as a sentence with the proper nouns "Albert Einstein" and "JK Rowling" in the dependent clause clarifying the noun "parents" from the independent clause. This suggestion is eliminated with the addition of the second comma.

This example is exactly like the "Sam and Tom" example that precedes it, but the explanation is less clear and includes errors, including its assertion that commas are "grammatically incorrect before dependent clauses" and then characterizing "Albert Einstein and JK Rowling" as a dependent clause. Commas are not grammatically incorrect before dependent clauses; in fact, Comma#Separation of clauses correctly says exactly the opposite. And "Albert Einstein and JK Rowling" is a phrase, not a clause: a clause must include a verb, and there is no verb in "Albert Einstein and JK Rowling".--Jim10701 (talk) 21:02, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Commas and years (I'm so sorry!)[edit]

I hope this doesn't set off a battle royale.

I was completely astonished to come across this sentence: "However, one exception to this general rule is that a comma is not inserted after the year if the date is serving as an adjective – almost as a title: "The September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC brought a renewed feeling of patriotism."" Sadly, there is no source for this sentence, and my admittedly somewhat cursory internet inspection doesn't reveal any obvious style guidance supporting it.

For instance, I don't have a subscription, but it appears that the CMOS section "5.82: Dates as adjectives" states, "If a full month-day-year date is used, then a comma is considered necessary both before and after the year {the May 18, 2002, commencement ceremonies}" from the site's search results. It seems to me that allowing an adjective exception seems to kind of defeat the whole purpose of the rule in the first place, but I'm not a grammarian; maybe some reputable sources disagree.AgnosticAphid talk 18:30, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Pretty much the most comprehensive post on this issue I found is this: . It appears that there is a lonely minority of one prominent grammarian (bryan garner) who endorses omitting the comma because it's clunky. Everyone else says to use the comma both before and after. Unless someone can come up with a less lopsided view of this issue, I think it would be best to remove this sentence. AgnosticAphid talk 22:17, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Thank you, I had often wondered about that. Indeed, the year is a parenthesis and so needs a following comma, and adjectival use doesn't change that. Alas the omission of the second comma (whatever the function) is one of the commonest mistakes on Wikipedia; I wish there was an automatic way to insert it. Rothorpe (talk) 23:39, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott. Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, 1968. 976 (col. 1) and 979 (col. 2).