The comma (,) is a graphic type sign, used in writing, which is used to indicate a brief pause in texts . Depending on each case, the use of the comma may be necessary to give meaning to the sentences, because without its presence it can totally change the idea of ​​the message that you want to express.

The comma is written next to the word, number or symbol that precedes it and a space must be left between it and the next word to be written.

In turn, this is one of the most widely used spelling type marks. Its use is of great importance in any text, so that it can be fully understood. If otherwise misused, readers can become confused.

When is the comma used?

The comma is used in various ways, also depending on the context you are talking about. It is used to separate the elements of a sentence, whether they are numbers, objects, phrases, among others.

In the case of pauses in a text or sentence, it is also widely used, except in cases that come from the conjunctions e, y, u, o , or ni.

Many times the use of the comma is comfortable, so it can depend a lot on the author’s style, however, there are commas that are considered mandatory, that is, in their absence they completely change the meaning of the text, for example:

No, I want cake. It is a very different expression than: I don’t want cake.

The use of the comma is recommended when the sentence is considerably long. 

On the other hand, the comma is also used to separate the positions of decimal numbers, separating the integer part and the decimal or fraction part, for example: 7.5; 2.9; 9.5.

However, depending on the country, the period (.) Is used in many cases instead of the comma.

Coma Types

Enumerative comma:

  • It is used to separate series or elements of a series that are grammatically similar.

Comma Vocative:

  • It is the one used to separate the vocative or noun from the rest of the sentence.

Hyperbatic Coma:

  • It is the one used when the syntactic order (subject, verb and complement) of the sentence is reversed, for example:

According to the provisions of the statement, you no longer work for the company.

Adversative Coma:

  • It is used before conjugations such as: more, but, although.

Elliptical Comma:

  • It is used in cases where the verb is omitted in the sentence, since it was used previously and therefore it is understood.

Coma Incidental:

  • It is used to separate phrases that are assembled within a complete sentence.

Rules for using the comma

  • Like all spelling signs, the comma has its rules of use, let’s see them with examples to make it easier to understand and understand.

Examples for the use of the comma

  1. To separate elements in a sentence, for example:
  • I like dogs, cats, horses and fish.
  • Victoria, Marta and Isabel played in the park.
  1. It is used before and after some conjunctions, for example:
  • That is,… Instead,… However,… Therefore,… However,
  • I am sleepy, however, I have to study. 
  1. To separate ideas that carry or add an explanation. In some cases these ideas are usually in parentheses, for example:
  • She came to my birthday, even though I didn’t invite her, with a great gift.
  • Luis, the most diligent student, received recognition today. 
  1. To separate the vocatives from the rest of the sentence. Vocatives can be nicknames, proper nouns or nouns and can be at the end, beginning or in the middle of the sentence, for example:
  • Pedro, you have to go fast.
  • No, Carmen, there are no classes tomorrow
  • Do you have his number, Juan?
  1. To separate sentences entered by words, Although and If, for example:
  • You can come, although I will not be.
  • I can offer you coffee, if you want. 
  1. It is used when the first name is written after the last name, for example:
  • Rodriguez, Carlos.
  • Sánchez, Luis.
  • Gómez, Andrés. 
  1. It is used when the verb is omitted in the same sentence, for example:
  • Daniela played baseball; Maria, volleyball.
  • Bruno is a computer writer; she, designer.
  • Carlos is a doctor; she, a biologist.
  1. To separate the day and the rest of the date from the place, for example:
  • Caracas, May 23, 1996.
  • Friday, July 27, 2018.
  1. To separate, within the same sentence, shorter sentences, for example:
  • Henry played on the computer, Gabriel did his homework, Jesus read the newspaper and Carlos cleaned the house.

On the other hand, there are commas that are incorrect or that should not be added to the text, for example:

  • Commas should not be placed after the word (but) when it is preceded by an exclamatory or interrogative:

Example: But why did you do it!

  • Nor is it correct to use the comma in compound sentences, known as juxtaposed, since in these cases the point, semicolon or colon is used.
  • Another case where it is not necessary to use the comma is in sentences where the same pronunciation produces an inflection in the tone of the voice, therefore, there is a pause.

Other punctuation marks

There are other punctuation marks that can be used in cases where the comma is not useful or has already been used. In the same way, these signs are used to give a more complete structure and meaning to the text, among these signs we have:

  • Period (.) : Placed at the end of sentences or sentences. Of these there are three types, which are, full stop, full stop, full stop.
  • A colon (:) : is placed to highlight the information presented below. This information is closely related to the text that precedes it.
  • Ellipsis (…) : they are placed at the end of a sentence, phrase or text in order to create suspense, doubt or simply signaling the continuation of the idea that had been developing.
  • Question marks (¿) and (?) : They are basically used to ask questions.
  • Exclamation marks (¡) and (!): They are used to highlight and indicate the exclamatory meaning of a sentence or word.
  • Semicolon (;) : it is used in almost the same way as the comma, which indicates the union between two related phrases in a sentence.

Use of the semicolon (;)

The semicolon indicates, like the comma , a pause in the sentence. However, this pause is longer than the comma, but shorter than the period.

This spelling sign is written past the word or symbol that precedes it and a space must be left before writing the next word or symbol.

The comma and semicolon differ in that the first expresses a brief pause in the sentence, while the second represents the relationship between two ideas that may be different. On the other hand, the comma does not separate sentences that are independent of each other, quite the opposite.

Main functions of the semicolon

The semicolon works as a hierarchical in the sentence , by defining an idea and then continuing with the description of the information within those ideas, for example:

The play was spectacular; the beautiful dancers and the exquisite music.

Similarly, this semicolon serves to establish a semantic relationship (the relationship between two ideas, words or elements) between various phrases or sentences in a text.

This is why it is considered as an intermediate sign between the period and followed by and the comma. It is even used to replace the point on the occasions that are necessary.

In general, the semicolon allows to maintain this relationship between sentences so that the complete text maintains its meaning and coherence.


To conclude, it should be noted that the comma is a fundamental punctuation mark in the Castilian and Spanish languages, since it can alter our oral expression. In this way, when speaking, the intonations between sentences change; we must pause when we meet the comma and lower our tone when continuing to speak.

It is clear that the use of these punctuation marks is necessary and important to establish good communication, whether oral or written.

The comma plays an important role in other languages, such as English and Italian. Standing out similarly in speech and writing, however, its use differs in some cases. Because of this it is important, when studying a foreign language, to learn to use the orthographic signs.

In short, the comma plays one of the most important roles in communication, being essential for the information to be transmitted to have logic and help the reader to understand said message.

In turn, its use will also depend on the author, his style, the needs or the information to be transmitted.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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