When to Use a Comma | Make Your Sentence Flow
A comma is there for the purpose of breaking the flow of text. We can define the job of commas as to break the flow of text. Commas should come in places in sentences where we would naturally pause if we were speaking that sentence. One way to test whether or not a comma is necessary is to pause very deliberately at each comma when reading. It’s important to not overuse commas, because they lose their effect if they’re used in places that they should not be.
It’s important to know when commas are needed and when they’re not needed, both for your own writing and maybe if you’re revising someone else’s work. Let’s practice. Right here, we have a sentence that says, “As you can see, the car is very old.” We have a comma right here. If you were just reading this to yourself inside your head, you may have trouble determining whether or not the comma is needed. Try reading it out loud and deliberately stopping at the comma. “As you can see *pause* the car is very old.” Well, that makes sense.
If you were speaking this, you would be explaining to someone, and you would say, “As you can see, the car is very old.” The comma there is needed. Another example is this sentence right here: “Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, are not very common here.” Here, we have four commas. Two of these commas are there for the purpose of setting off this phrase, and the other two commas are there because we’re making a list.
First, let’s take a look at the phrase. “Natural disasters, such as tornadoes hurricanes, and earthquakes, are not very common here.” We could omit everything in between these two commas and just say, “Natural disasters are not very common here.” That’s why we’re using commas here, because we could set this off. If you were speaking this you would say, “Natural disasters *pause* such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes *pause* are not very common here.”
Both of those commas are needed. When you’re reading a list, such as “tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes”, you don’t really need to pause in between each item in the list. Here, the commas aren’t here as much to break the flow of text. In this case, they’re just distinguishing between the different items in the list. This is an exception of when you wouldn’t follow the rules of “commas are only there to break the flow of text”.
In general, hopefully you can see a better idea of when you use commas. Where the checkmarks are, those were all the correct places to use commas. Right there and right there as well. You just want to make sure that you use commas when you need them. If in doubt, generally leave the comma. Many times, you want to leave out commas when you can, because they slow down your writing. Someone feels the need to mentally pause, or if they’re speaking they need to actually pause when reading that comma. Make sure your comma usage is appropriate.