from The English Language – Punctuation Marks on Rap Genius


A comma is perhaps, next to a period, the most frequently used punctuation mark in the English language. It has a plethora of uses but is primarily used to create a cutoff or short clause.


Let’s eat grandma!

A horrid invitation such as this can easily be resolved with the simple addition of a comma:

Let’s eat, grandma!

Not only does the comma make one into a well-spoken individual, it saves lives as well.

Another of the comma’s most frequent uses is in the separation of items in a list.



I walked to school with John Bill and Sally.

Without the proper punctuation it sounds like you only walked to school with two different people: John Bill and Sally.


I walked to school with John, Bill, and Sally.

Now, with the addition of commas, you are walking to school with the intended number of people.


Though commas are widely used and can be used very flexibly, it is important not to use commas when they are not needed, or where a semicolon or dash would be appropriate (i.e. commit a comma splice).


It was dark when we left Tom’s house, Mom and I had to drive home in the dark.

The comma is inappropriate in this sentence because “It was dark when we left Tom’s house” and “Mom and I had to drive home in the dark” are both independent clauses, i.e. clauses that could stand on their own as complete sentences. It should be replaced with a semicolon (or maybe colon or dash), or the sentence should be divided in two.

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