Commas are important to the writing process. They separate words and groups of words within sentences, allowing each word to stand out as its own idea. Although commas are common forms of punctuation, there are many rules for how they should be used in writing.
When should you use commas?
When are commas not required?
Additional Rules About Commas
Semicolons are often used to link related ideas in a sentence.
When should you use semicolons?
Sometimes, two independent clauses are related, but there are no connecting words to link them together. In this case, a semicolon is needed. You can think of the semicolon as a “connector” between two independent clauses.
Conjunctive adverbs are often used to link two independent clauses, and they require the assistance of a semicolon. A few conjunctive adverbs are indeed, consequently, also, however, therefore, moreover, and hence. When semicolons are used with conjunctive adverbs, the semicolon precedes the conjunctive adverb, and a comma follows the conjunctive adverb.
Semicolons are required when you create a list or series within a sentence, and each part of the series uses a comma.
Sometimes, two independent clauses are joined with a coordinating conjunction (for, and, but, etc). If such clauses are especially lengthy or contain commas, a semicolon is necessary to link these two clauses. When this occurs, the semicolon directly follows the first independent clause, and a comma directly follows the coordinating conjunction.
A colon is a type of punctuation that consists of two equally sized circles that are centered on the same vertical line.
When should you use colons?
Colons are used to introduce a list.
Note: a colon is used when listing, but there must be a complete sentence or an independent clause before the listed items.
Colons are used to introduce a single item.
Colons are used to introduce an explanation.
Colons are used to introduce speech.
Note: You should capitalize the first letter of the first word of a complete sentence that is a quotation when it follows a colon.
Colons are used between independent clauses when the second sentence explains, illustrates, paraphrases, or expands on the first sentence.
Colons are also used to show the time.
Note: A colon is used to separate the hour and minutes when expressing the time. Also, there should not be a space before or after the colon.