For such a common punctuation mark, commas cause a lot of confusion. But there are some rules for how commas should be used.\n\nThese rules aren\u2019t rigid: It\u2019s a matter of style to some degree, and the important thing is that your writing is clear and easy to read. However, if you use commas along the following lines, you\u2019ll be on the right track!\n1. Commas in Lists\nOne important use of commas is to separate items in a list of three or more things. US English typically uses a serial comma before the final item:\nMy favorite bands are Toto, ELO, and REO Speedwagon.\nIn British English, however, the serial comma is often omitted.\n2. After Introductory Words or Clauses\nA comma should be used to separate introductory words or phrases from the main clause in a sentence. These tend to be terms or phrases that modify or frame the sentence:\nAs a solo artist, Kenny Loggins is best known for the song \u201cFootloose.\u201d\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_2870" align="aligncenter" width="424"] Few things are more '80s than the Loggins.(Image: Surian Soosay\/flickr)[\/caption]\n3. After a Coordinating Conjunction\nWhen joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction (i.e., \u201cand,\u201d \u201cbut,\u201d \u201cfor,\u201d \u201cnor,\u201d \u201cor,\u201d \u201cso,\u201d or \u201cyet\u201d), they should be separated with a comma:\nI have every Boz Scaggs album, but I don\u2019t have any albums by the Steve Miller Band.\nThis only applies when linking clauses that could work as sentences by themselves, though, not whenever a coordinating conjunction is used.\n4. Parenthetical Commas\nParenthetical commas set apart non-essential information in a sentence. This often occurs mid-sentence:\nDaryl Hall, best known as one half of Hall & Oates, has released several solo albums.\nBut parenthetical information can also come at the end of a sentence:\n\u201cRickrolling\u201d is named after Rick Astley, whose song \u201cNever Gonna Give You Up\u201d was a number one hit in 25 countries.\n\n5. Setting Apart a Contrast\nWhen adding a contrast at the end of a sentence, set it apart with a comma:\nThe Eagles played classic rock, not heavy metal.\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_2869" align="aligncenter" width="434"] You can't play heavy metal sitting down.(Photo: Rachel Kramer\/wikimedia)[\/caption]\n6. Separating Coordinate Adjectives\nWhen using multiple adjectives to modify a single noun, you should separate coordinate adjectives with commas. Commas aren\u2019t required when adjectives aren\u2019t coordinate.\n\nCoordinate adjectives are equally-weighted in how they modify a noun. You can test whether adjectives are coordinate by either changing their order or adding \u201cand\u201d between them:\nPat Benatar is a talented, successful musician.\nPat Benatar is a successful, talented musician.\nPat Benatar is a successful and talented musician.\nThese all sound okay because \u201csuccessful\u201d and \u201ctalented\u201d are coordinate adjectives.\n\nIf we do the same thing with adjectives that aren\u2019t coordinate (e.g., \u201csuccessful\u201d and \u201cAmerican\u201d), the sentences sound wrong:\nPat Benatar is a successful American musician. \u2013 Correct\nPat Benatar is an American successful musician. \u2013 Incorrect\nPat Benatar is a successful and American musician. \u2013 Incorrect\nThis is because \u201cAmerican\u201d is more important to the identity of the noun in this sentence.\n7. Introducing a Quotation\nA comma is used to introduce a quotation when it follows from the rest of a sentence, particularly after terms like \u201csaid\u201d or \u201cwrote\u201d:\nJon Bon Jovi said, \u201cSuccess is falling nine times and getting up ten.\u201d\nHowever, no comma is needed when the quote follows the word \u201cthat\u201d:\nJon Bon Jovi said that \u201cSuccess is falling nine times and getting up ten.\u201d\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_2868" align="aligncenter" width="358"] Here seen about to swallow a microphone.(Photo: Artur Bogdanski\/wikimedia)[\/caption]\n8. Direct Address\nFinally, when something is directly addressed to someone else, we separate the name of the addressee from the main statement with a comma:\nBefore: Derek, are you listening to Def Leppard?\nAfter: Are you listening to Def Leppard, Derek?\nThis particularly applies when writing dialogue, so it\u2019s relevant when writing fiction.