Career Advice >> Browse Articles >> Resume, Cover Letter & Interview Tips


Writing Mistakes that Make You Look Dumb


Comma Vomit

True or false: a comma must precede any use of the word “and”? FALSE. Commas should only precede and, but, for, or, nor, so, or yet when they introduce an independent clause. For example, “We laid out our music and snacks, and began to study.” Placing a comma after “snacks” is incorrect. The subject of the sentence has not changed, “we” still “began to study.”

An example of correct comma use: “The game was over, and the crowd began to leave.” The game and the crowd are different subjects and the clauses are independent. The crowd could still be leaving regardless of what is happening with the game.

A comma can also precede “and” when it is used in a list of three or more items. However, in a list it is entirely optional and called an “oxford comma”.

While that is probably the most common overuse, others are prevalent. Just because you think you would pause at a certain point when speaking, it does not mean you need a comma. For a complete guide to using and misusing commas, check out this guide!