Commas: Minor Rules

Introduction

In our first lesson on commas we touched on the major patterns. On this page we’ll cover the minor rules. You’ll likely be familiar with most of these, but even a quick read through may be a good refresher.

Minor Uses

There are quite a few other uses of commas. Most of these you will likely be familiar with already.

Addressing someone directly

Please, Josephine, do tell me all about your research on the habits of baboons.

Starting a letter or email

Dear Professor Jones, I hope you are doing well.

Finishing a letter or email

Sincerely, Michael Beasley.

 If some words are left out

Before we had Michael Jordan; now, Steph Curry.

After mild interjections

Oh, that’s my favourite poem by Wendell Berry.

By contrast, stronger interjections are often followed by an exclamation mark.

Yes/No

No, I don’t think so.

In less formal contexts you may drop the comma if it interrupts the flow (yes you may!)

Dates

When dates are included in a sentence, they are typically set off with commas:

She was born on July 14, 1789, the day the Bastille was stormed.

We will celebrate our anniversary on Tuesday, April 26, and you’re invited.

However, if the day comes before the month you don’t need a comma between them:

On 13 January 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft.

The same rule applies if you’re only mentioning the month and the year:

The last time I saw her was in May 2015.

Addresses

Addresses are usually punctuated with commas:

Please write to me at 22 Pleasant Ave, Sockville, Alberta, Canada, the World, the Universe.

Conclusion

There are many more minor uses, and we will likely add some over time.

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