Punctuation is one of those things that when you get it wrong can irritate and confuse. So I’ve decided to give you the information on the "king of punctuation marks" – the comma. Be ready for a lot of comma rules, as the comma is the most widely used and often misused punctuation mark in English. But don't go into a coma after learning about the uses of the comma...
What is the Comma?
The comma is the most common mark of punctuation within the sentences. The basic function of the comma is to divide between "light" elements within a sentence that have some relation in meaning to each other, as a period separates between "heavier" full sentences, which each convey a separate piece of meaning. Such a large variety in comma rules may lead to many errors English writers often make.
You should also note that there may be many exceptions to the rules, as commas are to be used to make things as clear as possible for the reader, even when this comes contrary to the rules. Alternatively, you may consider avoiding using the comma by simply dividing a long sentence into two shorter ones using a period. Skilled writers develop a "feel" for effective comma usage as they progress with their English writing.
While there are many specific uses for commas, nearly eighty-five percent of the commas used in written English are used in a mere four situations. I would like you to be acquainted with four main guidelines that govern comma use. If you know the basic rule for these four cases, you can use commas in over four-fifths of the times you need to use commas.
According to Larry Trask, there are four types of comma: the listing comma, the joining comma, the gapping comma and bracketing commas. (Summary of Commas, 1997: Online1)
ϖA listing comma can always be replaced by the word and or or:
Vanessa seems to live on eggs, pasta and aubergines.
Vanessa seems to live on eggs and pasta and aubergines.
Choose an article from the Guardian, the...