A Lesson About Commas And Independent Clauses In Sentences


Commas are not like most punctuation marks. You have some freedom about when and where to insert commas. But there are some rules.

One rule is that you want to separate two clauses in a sentence with a comma only if each clause has its own subject.

For example: Harold went to beach, and then to the meeting.

That’s a misplaced comma. The second clause of the sentence, “and then to the meeting,” does not have its own subject. It’s not an independent clause that could stand alone as a sentence.

Now consider this: Harold went to beach, and then Susan went to the meeting.

That comma is just fine. Since the second clause has its own subject (Susan), it may be separated by a comma.

Only independent clauses get separate by a comma.


I don't know why I know that or why it has stuck in my brain. But it helps make me a good writer, so I thought I'd pass it along.

I want to thank all of you who commented on my recent rant about em dashes.

Sitting here writing at the kitchen table or on my deck is isolating. Having you tell me what to you want me to write about is genuinely appreciated.

Knowing you care about em dashes thrills me, and that’s why I wanted I'm hoping you'll like this little ditty about commas.

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