I'm curious about whether to use comma before "and". Some people told me that using comma to connect two different sentences and two different subjects.

Please provide some examples to explain the usage of this. Thanks a lot!

  • Hello Sandra. Hello, Sandra. Which variation signals a pause? That's a good (but not infallible) test of where to include a comma in an expression. If you want a pause between 'orange' and 'blue' in your example, it would probably be a longer pause, to show consideration by the speaker. A dash would be better: I like orange – and blue. But the whole area of 'what do we use commas for' is large and quite complex. You need to look up individual examples of usage here and on other websites. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 9:26
  • Hello Edwin. Thanks for the comment. Is it correct to use comma in a list of nouns as "I like oranges, apples, bananas, and cherries."? – Sandra Oct 17 '14 at 9:32
  • 1
    I think you are talking about the Oxford Comma – M.M Oct 17 '14 at 10:46

Generally we don't use commas before AND. Since Commas are used in pairs to enclose phrases that interrupt a clause or that are intended to function parenthetically, a writer may choose to place a comma before "and" (or any of the seven coordinating conjunctions) when the conjunction launches such a phrase:


  1. Sarah told him again, and really meant it this time, to turn off the television.
  2. Alice will ask John once, but only once, to forgive her.
  • I think the first example of parenthesis here is so disruptive in form that a pair of dashes or parentheses is required. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 21:41
  • I understood what Edwin said. Or maybe "Sarah told him to turn off the television again and (she) really meant it this time." would be better? Thanks. – Sandra Oct 20 '14 at 0:47

The issue is whether and is joining a compound verb or a compound sentence. There should not be a comma before and when it joins a compound verb: Alice picked up one of the books and read it.

Usually a comma should be used before and when it joins a compound sentence:

Alice picked up one of the books, and then she walked out the door with it.

You may use the clue that a noun or pronoun follows and, signalling the start of a second clause (which is what makes the sentence a compound one).

The comma may be omitted, however, if the thoughts of the two clauses are closely related:

Alice picked up one of the books and she dropped it immediately.

  • No, the issue is whether the Grammar Pope has issued an edict that 'There should never be a comma before and when it joins a compound verb' (by which I assume you mean when it introduces a main clause with elided subject, which we have here). 'Alice picked up one of the magazines that the postman had had to struggle so hard to get through the letter box the previous day and decided it might be just the thing to read on the train' is crying out for a comma before 'and'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 21:37
  • If we connect two sentences that stating different things or two different subjects, we use a comma, right? e.g. (1) Alice picked the book and walked out her room. --Need no comma. (2) Alice picked the book, and the book torn apart. --Needs a comma. Is this correct? Thanks for the help. :) – Sandra Oct 20 '14 at 1:01

If the word before the 'and' is a noun, and the next word is not a noun (or a noun phrase), use a comma. Otherwise you are combining things that don't belong together.

'I want some bread and wine'

'I want some bread, and could you bring me some wine too?'

'I went to get a paper and a cigar'.

'I went to get a paper, and to take a walk'. (Not 'a paper and take'. What is a 'take'??!!!)

  • So you'd not allow Galfridus's 'Alice picked up one of the books and read it.'? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 14:57
  • A comma would be necessary after 'books', yes. – Ornello Oct 17 '14 at 17:27
  • At this point I have to downvote. You're making a style choice into a law. Daniel Kies (Department of English, College of DuPage) writes in Modern English Grammar: 'Traditionally, formal written English requires writers to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (also known as a coordinator) when the coordinator links two independent, main clauses together. However, contemporary writers often prefer a style that uses fewer marks of punctuation, including the use of a comma in a compound sentence.' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 21:27
  • I don't care what that says, or who says it, when 'and' links two grammatically dissimilar things (nouns and verbs) a comma is mandatory. Otherwise, we have the potential for confusion. I find this practice very annoying. It has nothing to do with clauses, it has to do with 'and' linking dissimilar things. Professors don't know everything (and sometimes I don't think they know anything). So, I absolutely reject this statement of Kies. – Ornello Oct 17 '14 at 21:41
  • I have to agree with Edwin here (-1). Entirely arbitrary, this set of rules is very inadequate, taking into account none of the historical nor stylistic considerations that matter much more than this rigid form. – shipr Oct 17 '14 at 21:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.