18.2 Avoiding Unnecessary Commas

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify some categories of unnecessary commas.
  2. Avoid using unnecessary commas.

To use or not to use? That is the question when it comes to commas. Just as you want to be sure to use commas in all the correct places, you also want to make sure to avoid using commas when you don’t need them.

Key Takeaways

  • A comma is not needed before a conjunction if the sentence is not compound, before the first word in a series or after the last word in a series, or after an information-adding appositive.
  • Do not use a comma to set apart an adverb clause that is essential to the meaning of a sentence or an interjection when the comma would interfere with the sentence.
  • A comma should not be used after although, such as, or like; after a coordinating conjunction; or along with end punctuation inside a quotation.


  1. For each sentence, add and/or remove commas (replacing a comma with X) or indicate that no changes are needed.

    1. I had lasagna for dinner and, it was absolutely great!
    2. My friend Alice is coming over after work.
    3. My mother is going to pick me up, because my father had to work late.
    4. Tony bought a green skirt, some red shoes, a blue shirt, and a pink belt.
    5. “The lake water is very cold!,” said Megan through shivering teeth.
    6. Carrie skated around the room repeatedly and acted like she had been skating her whole life.