ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Properly Train the Comma

Updated on October 11, 2011

Ah, the comma; the poor, misunderstood comma. Many writers are scared of them, Editors abhor them, and they lie scattered across the penned landscape like so many potholes on a gravel road.

If given the right direction, the comma is a beautiful little punctuation mark that eases confusion and enhances readability. Alas, left to its own devises, the free-range comma skitters across the page with abandon, leaving overly punctuated clauses and phrases in its wake. The carnage left behind when commas run amok can be devastating to writers and readers alike.

A Comma Can be the Difference Between Life and Death!

Obedience Lessons for the Comma

With a little guidance, the comma can become a well-heeled member of literary society. Here is a selection of simple comma commands that can be of aid in domesticating this unruly mark.

  1. Train commas to separate dependent elements when in a series of three or more. The ingredients are: eggs, oil, water and flour.

  2. The comma can also be trained to separate adjectives that are used to describe something together. The night was filled with the fresh, bold scent of jasmine.

  3. The comma is exceptional when trained with a conjunction to separate coordinated independent elements. John played the flute, and Jill sang along. Common conjunctions can be remembered with the mnemonic “FANBOYS” (FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR YET, STILL).

  4. Teach commas to follow introductory words, clauses and phrases. Train commas alone or in pairs to set off names of people being addressed. Ted, this is a lovely party. Thank you, Julie, for inviting me. I had a wonderful time, Don.

  5. Train the comma to separate a “signal phrase” from a quotation. Grandma said, “Nice to see you dear.”

  6. With a little coaxing, the comma will separate introductory words or phrases. After the movie, Jane went out for ice cream. Yes, I went out for ice cream as well. When we were done with our ice cream, we left the shop.

  7. Commas have long been educated in the art of setting off parenthetical statements (additional information). Train a pair of commas to surround parenthetical remarks. Kona, my dog, loves to fetch.

  8. A well trained comma can be used to restate something or to separate a contradictory element. I like vanilla ice cream, but not chocolate.

A common green comma
A common green comma


Once the comma has been properly domesticated, it will no longer scamper through works causing halts and false starts. There will no longer be a need to live in fear.

Viva la Comma!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank's for helping me clarify my use of commas.

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      I am happy that the information has been found useful. I had the worst time with commas. I though that I had remembered being taught as a child that any pause required a comma, which is not actually the case. Ah well, live and learn.

    • Bobby the asshat profile image

      Bobby the asshat 

      7 years ago from Fairbanks, Alaska

      Thank you so much for this hub on the comma. I was just having a conversation in my english writing class about my over use of the comma. This was most helpful.

    • MaineWriter profile image


      7 years ago from Maine

      I tend to have problems with comas, so I will be bookmarking this page as a reference.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent. A nifty little mark. Your description is clear and concise. Thanks..

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Absolutely wonderful hub about the comma! Most helpful.

      Glad to see you are taking the hub challenge.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Nice hub! I tend to have a problem reigning in those pesky commas as well! Thanks for the tips.

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      7 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      very well written, now are you going to train the apostrophe - it certainly needs it :0) voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

      good luck on Hubpages

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Thank you for your comments. I am happy that this information is useful.

      My editor on another site would ding me for my love of the free range comma on a fairly regular basis. This is my attempt to tame the wild beasts in my own ramblings.

    • rockdresses profile image


      7 years ago from Turkey

      Very useful info? Thanks a lot for your brilliant sharing!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh I loved this. Wait, I think I meant to write:

      Oh, I loved this, LOL. I am going to bookmark it as well.

    • the clean life profile image

      Mark Bruno 

      7 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      Thank you so much for this lesson. I have been doing a few things wrong regarding the Comma, Thanks for bringing me up to speed :)

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      This was a delightful presentation of the poor misunderstood comma. It made me smile. Thanks for the smiles. Good luck on your challenge!

    • Nils Visser profile image

      Nils Visser 

      7 years ago from Brighton UK

      Guilty as charged.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      The comma is definitely the hardest piece of punctuation to manage! People either use it too often (especially new writers) or not enough. I vacillate between the two LOL

      nicely laid out info

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Thank you! I have to be very careful with my comma usage. It has been a love/hate relationship for sure.

    • LABrashear profile image


      7 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Great informatinon! I love your presentation. I love the comma. I let it run "free-range" at first and often have to go herd them in. Bookmarking for future reference, voting up, and sending thanks!

    • Bob Bagley profile image

      Bob Bagley 

      7 years ago from Palm Coast, Florida

      Vicki99, this is a good training manual. Thanks, Bob


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)