Top 5 Comma Errors

Chicago Manual of Style devotes 16 pages to the correct usage of the comma. I’m sure you’re familiar with its use with coordinate adjectives, transitional adverbs, appositive clauses, and participial phrases. I won’t insult you by repeating that information here. Instead, here are the most common errors in comma usage spotted around the Web.

 

Omitting a comma after city and state

When writing the name of a city followed by its state, most writers know to include the comma between the two, but often overlook the comma that’s required after the state name. Here’s how to punctuate a city, state combo correctly:

He knew he was washed up in Bath, Maine, when his show was scrubbed.

Show me the St. Louis, Missouri, map.

 

Omitting a comma after city and country

When writing a city name followed by the country, separate them with a comma, like this:

He got plastered in Paris, France, and broiled in London, England, last week

 

Omitting a comma after a month-day-year date

A complete date (consisting of a month, day, and year) requires a comma after the day and after the year.

She left the bank in Paris on July 1, 2008, for a job in Teller, Alaska.

Remember: If there’s a comma before the year, put a comma after the year.

 

Including a comma between a month and year

If you’re writing just a month and year (without a day), don’t separate them with a comma. And don’t include a comma after the year.

Her daughter April may return in June 2009 for the reunion.

 

Placing a comma outside quotation marks

Put a comma that follows a closing quotation mark inside the quote (in other words, before the ending quotation mark).

Her favorite movies are “First Wives Club,” “The Second Time Around,” and “The Last King of Scotland.”

In the U.S., commas and periods go inside the quotation marks. That’s the American way.

291 Responses to “Top 5 Comma Errors”

  1. mary Says:

    Do you put a comma after the day, such as…..
    Monday, January 25, 2009

    thank you!

  2. Laura Says:

    Mary,
    You should put a comma between the name of the day and the date, just like your example.

  3. Mark Says:

    What about referencing dates in contracts, etc. Should it be (a) this 24th day of February, 2009
    (b) this 24th day of February 2009

    • Barbara Burke Says:

      Top 5 Comma errors says this: “If you’re writing just a month and year (without a day), don’t separate them with a comma. And don’t include a comma after the year. Her daughter April may return in June 2009 for the reunion.”
      Therefore (b) is correct.

  4. Laura Says:

    Mark,
    I’m no legal expert (I don’t even play one on TV), but I can’t see a difference between a comma and no comma after the month, though if you place one after the month, then you’d need one after the year, too.

  5. Amy Says:

    What if the month and the day are used without the year?

    For example:

    The meeting will be held on March 13 at the convention center.

  6. Laura Says:

    Hi, Amy!
    There’s no need for a comma in the situation you mention. Your example is correct as is!

  7. Debbi Says:

    Do you put a comma after just the year at the beginning of a sentence? For example: In 1864, 234…

  8. Laura Says:

    It used to be a rule that a prepositional phrase (such as a phrase starting with “in”) at the beginning of a sentence should be followed by a comma. But over the last several decades, the trend has been to use fewer punctuation marks and the comma is no longer required after a brief prepositional phrase. However, you should use a comma if it helps avoid confusion or ambiguity. In your example, since the year is followed immediately by a number, I’d recommend a comma to help the reader discern the two numbers. But it wouldn’t be necessary in this sentence:
    In 1864 Lincoln was re-elected.

  9. Jon Says:

    Laura,
    I know that it IS a rule, but WHY do we need to have a comma after a city/state pairing, as in: “Jon lives in Chicago, Illinois, and will never leave.”

    I would think that could be written as “Jon lives in Chicago, Illinois and will never leave.”

    Normally, I wouldn’t think it was needed, grammatically. What is the specific rule that requires that extra comma?

  10. Laura Says:

    Most authorities on writing, including the “Chicago Manual of Style” and the “AP Stylebook” (which is the standard Yahoo! uses) require a comma after a city/state pair (unless the state is the last word in a sentence). Both style guides treat the state as a parenthetical that should be set off with commas.

  11. Eric Says:

    Are you sure you need a comma after the state if the city/state is modifying a noun? Take the example above:

    “Show me the St. Louis, Missouri, map”
    That sounds rather clumsy. For example, these make more sense to me:
    “The Portland, Oregon monument was restored”
    “65-year-old Dallas, Texas resident Bill Jones was arrested Friday”

    I have no problem with commas injecting the state as its own parenthetical when its followed by a connecting word, but it seems rather clumsy to break apart the sentence with the second comma in the situation which I describe.

    • Dwight Says:

      Think of it this way: the commas set off the state, because the state is merely a detail about the city. There is more than one Portland in the world, so adding Oregon simply identifies that particular Portland. People think there should only be one comma because that’s how they address envelopes, which is different from writing grammatically correct sentences.

      • MJ Blakely Says:

        It would seem like you have the same issue when a date modifies a noun. For example:

        The February 19, 2011 contract. or
        The February 19, 2011, contract.

  12. Barb Says:

    In the date of a letter when only typing the month and the year, does a comma go between them? Example:

    October, 2009

    Mr. Joe Schmo
    123 Any Street
    Any town, USA….

  13. Laura Says:

    Barb,
    There’s no need for the comma in the circumstance you mention. However, if you feel it is easier to read with a comma, it would be OK and no one would complain — not even me!

    • MY Says:

      Is a comma required after a complete date when followed by a conjunction?

      For example, I was born on January 1, 1990, and my wife was born on February 1, 1990.

      The rule posted on the website states,

      A complete date (consisting of a month, day, and year) requires a comma after the day and after the year.

      She left the bank in Paris on July 1, 2008, for a job in Teller, Alaska.

      Remember: If there’s a comma before the year, put a comma after the year.

  14. Debbie Says:

    I agree with Eric. I don’t believe there needs to be a comma after Missouri in the example above. It seems awkward to place a comma before a noun that way. The words “St. Louis, Missouri” seem to be modifiers of the noun map in that sentence, and a comma would not normally be placed between a noun/adjective.

    • RM1(SS) (ret) Says:

      “St Louis” modifies the map – it’s a “St Louis map.” As Dwight said above, however, “Missouri” modifies “St Louis” – it specifies which St Louis is meant. So the comma after Missouri is indeed required.

  15. Debbie Says:

    On 10/24/2009, I was married. Does there need to be a comma after the date since it is not in the form of October 24, 2009?

  16. Debbie Says:

    On the 14th of November 2009, the house was dedicated. Should there be a comma after 2009?

  17. Debbie Says:

    If the date is given without the month spelled out (for example, 12/29/2009), should there be a comma after it in a sentence?

  18. Laura Says:

    Debbie, the rules about dates and commas apply only when you’ve written out the month, not when you write a date as numbers. So, no, you generally don’t need a comma after 12/29/2009, unless the date appears in a sentence (like this one) where a comma normally goes.

  19. andy colb Says:

    Are there any city names with commas as a natural part of the city name? As a similar, but more common, example of embedded punctuation, Hastings-on-Hudson (NY) includes hyphens as part of its natural spelling. I’m thinking of the absurdity of an embedded comma forcing use of a semi-colon between whatever state and country elements follow.

  20. Laura Says:

    Andy, I don’t know of any place name that includes a comma.

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  24. Jurga Says:

    Hi Laura,

    This is an excellent collection of tips. I was wondering if the use of commas is correct in the following sentence:

    Our club meets every third Wednesday of each month, January through December, except public holidays.

    Thanks.

  25. Laura Says:

    Yes, the commas are correct, although you might consider if you need to include “January through December” since it’s implied by “each month.”

  26. Thomas Says:

    This is going to sound really stupid but when you are describing a group of things, do you need a comma after the number?

    e.g.

    There were two large horses outside my house.

    OR

    There were two, large horses outside my house.

    I’ve been wondering that for years!

  27. Laura Says:

    Thomas, I can’t think of any time when a comma would be correct after a number, unless that number is a date.

  28. Lisa Says:

    I remember the commas between city and state, and also after state in a sentence, but this example confuses me because of the apostrophe after the state! “Please stop by Columbus, Ohio’s, newest furniture store.” Is this correct?

  29. Laura Says:

    Lisa,
    I initially thought that the comma after “Ohio’s” was unnecessary, but removing it leads to ambiguity. (It could be read as if the store name was Columbus and it was Ohio’s newest furniture store.) My advice would be to recast the sentence, removing “Ohio’s” since it’s unnecessary in that specific example. Or: Please stop by the newest furniture store in Columbus, Ohio.

  30. Mike Says:

    I was just searching around the web to see if anyone else was complaining about Microsoft’s annoying misuse of the comma in its Vista operating system. The calendar places a comma between the month and year in the title of each calendar page (e.g., April, 2010). What’s worse is that I’m now seeing more and more web sites with embedded calendar functions displaying the comma (likely due to inheriting from the underlying OS, rather than bad coding). Nice little write-up, BTW. Also good that you noted the “American way” for quotation marks. Funny how the British rules look so wrong to me (as ours look equally wrong to them).

  31. Laura Says:

    One more reason to avoid Vista!

  32. Kelly Says:

    I’ve been researching this but can’t find an example of this exact case in any of the grammer books I’ve checked. In this sentence, is it correct to put a comma after the date? Registration will begin Tuesday, June 1, in the Meeting Room.

  33. Laura Says:

    Yes, the comma is correct after the date.

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  35. Travis Says:

    “The document dated January 1, 2010, (Document No. 2422), was not legible.”

    if you use parentheses after the date for an additional parenthetical, do you still have the comma after the year?

  36. Laura Says:

    I don’t think the commas after the year and the right parenthesis are necessary.

  37. Tracy Says:

    Can I add a comma after 6 p.m.,

  38. Paige Says:

    Should there be a comma if the date is written as
    August 7th, 2010?

  39. Laura Says:

    Paige, though I don’t think the “th” is necessary in that date, you’ll still need a comma after the year.

  40. Paige Says:

    I am having this date printed on Koozie’s that I will be passing out to gues at my wedding so the only thing on the Koozie will be the date. My new question to you is…
    do I have them printed August 7th, 2010 or August 7, 2010?
    Thanks,
    Paige

  41. Laura Says:

    Paige, thanks for the clarification. Either way works, but I have a preference for August 7, 2010. And congrats!

  42. Ashlynn Says:

    When putting an address down where does the comma go after the city or after the state?

  43. Laura Says:

    Ashlynn,
    Where are you “putting an address down”? If the city-state combination appears within a sentence, you need a comma after the city and after the state (unless there’s another punctuation mark that goes there, like a period). Always separate a city and state with a comma.

  44. Debbie de Caussin Says:

    Most Americans have a sedentary-type lifestyle. Should there be a hyphen?

  45. Laura Says:

    Debbie,
    Yes, there should be a hyphen. But I have to ask: Do you need to include “type”? Couldn’t you just call it a “sedentary lifestyle”?

  46. NS Says:

    Hi Laura,
    Great tips! Thank you for posting these.

    Two questions on your last post:

    But I have to ask: Do you need to include “type”? Couldn’t you just call it a “sedentary lifestyle”?

    1. Shouldn’t the “do” be lower case?
    Also I never understand why ‘”sedentary lifestyle.”‘ would have the period inside the quotes, but ‘”sedentary lifestyle”?’ would have the question-mark outside. British usage is much more logical.

    2. Can you please editorialize about this?
    3. Did I quote the quotes properly?

    Thank you,
    NS

  47. Laura Says:

    NS,
    Great questions! I’ll try to answer them.
    1. I capitalized the “do” because I try to follow the Associated Press style (though sometimes I err). According to AP, the word following the colon is capitalized if it starts a complete sentence.

    According to U.S. style, the period goes inside quotation marks. The question mark goes inside the quotation marks only if it is part of the quoted matter. In this case, it’s not. The entire sentence is a question, so it applies to the whole sentence, and not to “sedentary lifestyle,” so it goes after the closing quotation mark.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by “editorialize” in this case. Do you have a more specific question?

    3. You quoted the quotes nearly perfectly. You just don’t need the period following “lifestyle” in your first question.

  48. khee Says:

    Which one is correct,

    Thanks, Laura

    Or

    Thanks Laura?

    With comma or none? :)
    Thanks :)

  49. Laura Says:

    Hi, khee!
    If you want to be absolutely correct, you’d separate “thanks” and “Laura” with a comma. This is a case of what’s called “direct address,” and the rule is to separate the person being addressed from the rest of the sentence with a comma or commas, like these examples:

    Thanks, khee, for your question.
    Khee, thanks for your question.
    Thanks for your question, khee.

  50. Carol Dye Says:

    Would you always put a comma after the M/D/Y? For example, here’s 2 sentences I’ve always questioned the comma usage in:

    I received the June 11, 2010 letter referencing the issues.
    OR
    I attended the June 11, 2010 meeting and all agreed, it was a successful one.

    And finally, is there always a comma before the last “and” in a sequence of listed items, i.e., “She took a cab to the mall, the hairdresser, the grocery store and back home.

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  52. Lynn Says:

    when addressing an envelope. . . is it ok to omit the comma?

    i.e., Chicago Ill 60633

    or Chicago, Ill 60633

    Please advise.

  53. Laura Says:

    Lynn, you don’t need the comma after the state abbreviation on an envelope.

  54. Julie Says:

    Does this format look right? Wednesday, September 1st at 5:30. Or do I need another comma btwen September 1st and 5:30?

  55. Laura Says:

    Julie, you don’t need a comma after “1st” if you include the word “at” after it.

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  57. Lorie Says:

    Would I use a comma in the following?

    …this week’s meeting…

    Thanks for your help!

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  59. Laura Says:

    Lorie,
    I have no idea where or why you would need a comma in something so brief and apparently incomplete.

  60. Lorie Says:

    I was cutting it short. The sentence would be “Please join us at next week’s meeting for breakfast and a meet and greet with Dr. Miller.” Would I use the comma in week’s? Thanks!

  61. Laura Says:

    Lorie,
    Thanks for the clarification. Could you possibly mean: “Would I use an apostrophe in week’s?”

    If that’s your question, then yes, the apostrophe is required in week’s.

  62. Yuyo Says:

    Hi, nice to meet you.
    Can I add a coma after P.M. or A.M.?
    Here is the dialogue:

    “The ships… starting at 11:13 P.M.” Paco recalled.

  63. Yuyo Says:

    Also, can I put a coma after the …?
    “I was unconscious, I don’t know…,” Pelias remarked.

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  65. Kim Says:

    I’m seeing some errors above in some of the comments. You never write September 1st at 5:30 or August 7th, 2010, even though you hear it that way. The only time you use the ordinal (th, rd, etc.) is if you are saying the 1st day of September or the 7th day of August; otherwise, it is Wednesday, September 1 at 5:30 or August 7, 2010.

  66. Pete Says:

    I’m confused when it comes to more than one date. Which is correct?

    The committee met several times between August 1, 2010, and August 12, 2010.

    The committee met several times between August 1, 2010 and August 12, 2010. Thank you.

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  68. Katy Says:

    I have some questions about commas in English… maybe you can help me.

    Since 1 July, a new law has governed …
    Since 1(st) July ?? Do I need the (st)? And do I need a comma after the date?

    Another question:
    In Germany, there are lots of … do I need a comma after countries like in this example?

    Another question:
    Do I need a comma here?
    What will be(,) if I am unable to make decisions for myself because of an accident?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

  69. Judy Lococo Says:

    In Chicago style, do you put a comma after “See” in the footnotes? Thank you.

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  71. Deb Says:

    Should you place a comma after the 2nd month in the heading of a newsletter that includes two abbreviated months and the year?
    Which example would be correct or is either one acceptable?

    DeputyGram
    Nov./Dec., 2010

    or

    DeputyGram
    Nov.Dec. 2010

  72. Laura Says:

    Deb,
    I think “Nov./Dec. 2010″ is the easist to understand.

  73. Maria Says:

    Do you need a comma for:

    December 3rd 2010?

    I know it would be correct to write December 3, 2010…

    Thanks!

  74. Laura Says:

    Maria: Yes, I think a comma is necessary in that form of the date.

  75. Maria Says:

    Thanks Laura. I looked it up in the Chicago MS…and couldn’t find it listed. It seems use of the “3rd” is British and it generally comes before: 3rd December, 2010…well, at least it is obscure enough that no one is likely to notice!!!

    • mark Says:

      British English would be written and spoken as

      the 3rd of December, 2010…
      not
      3rd December, 2010

      • RM1(SS) (ret) Says:

        Disagree – I’ve seen “3rd December” hundreds of times in print, but never “the 3rd of December” (unless used as a quote, in which case it would be “the third…”).

        • Laura Says:

          Here’s what Grammar Girl has to say on this subject: “The instance where it is OK to use an ordinal number is when you are writing the 1st of January, because you are placing the day in a series: of all the days in January, this day is the first. For example, your invitations could say, “Please join us for a party on the first of January.” In that case, it’s correct to use the ordinal number first.”

          Jane Watson, an authority on business writing states: In legal documents and formal invitations, dates are written more formally.

          Examples (all are acceptable)
          November twentieth
          The twentieth of November
          The twentieth day of November”

  76. walkfly Says:

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    Question: Is there a comma following the state and before the country?
    i.e. Name, City, State(,?) USA

  77. Becky Says:

    Do you put a comma after a county and state when it’s used as a subject title such as, “NCS Hinds County MS Study Location?”

  78. Bertie Says:

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  79. Candace Says:

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  80. Jennifer Says:

    I LOVE your website!!!!!!!
    I have scoured your site for this question, but I think it is the first of it’s kind.
    In the following address, do I leave in the period behind the abbreviation for boulevard?

    1111 Main Blvd., Columbus, Ohio 44444

    Thanks!

    • Laura Says:

      Jennifer,
      I’m happy to hear you like Terribly Write. Welcome!
      In your example, you should keep the period to denote the abbreviation for boulevard.

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  83. Robin Says:

    A student writes: Wednesday January 26 from noon until one in the Student Center room 102.

    I believe it should read: Wednesday, January 26, from noon until one, in the Student Center, Room 102.

    Have I placed commas correctly? Should she write, 1:00 p.m., instead of one?

    • Laura Says:

      Commas look OK. And, yes, you should use 1:00 p.m. because that’s how a time is written and it’s much, much easier to read and identify as a time.

  84. lynn Says:

    Is this sentence correct.
    The celebration should be better than the one two years ago.

    • Laura Says:

      Looks good to me. I can hardly wait.

      • Laura A. Says:

        I can’t hardly wait. (not “I can hardly wait”).

        • Laura Says:

          Sorry, but “can’t hardly wait” is grammatically incorrect because the adverb hardly is considered a negative and as we all know, double negatives are considered incorrect. Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says: “In Standard English, hardly, scarcely, and similar adverbs cannot be used with a negative. The sentence ‘I couldn’t hardly see him,’ for instance, is not acceptable.”

  85. tracey Says:

    What if the date is a part of a large parenthetical phrase? Do you still put a comma after the year?

    For example:

    In this picture from the June 6, 1870 issue of Harper’s Weekly, people crowd into……

    • Laura Says:

      The date is part of a prepositional phrase, which is not relevant to the use of a comma. You still need the comma after the year.

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  87. L Hudson Says:

    On an event poster, should a comma be included after the year? I say yes, but the printer says the trend is not to include it. For example,
    “June 19, 2011, at 10 AM” or should it be “June 19, 2011 at 10 AM”?

    Thank you.

    • Laura Says:

      On a poster, I don’t think there’s any chance for confusion if you omit the comma. And it looks cleaner, so I’d agree with the printer in this instance.

  88. Kristin Says:

    What about when the date modifies the noun?
    I’ve seen this question asked several times in the comments but never answered.

    “I left the June 7, 2010 letter on my desk.”
    OR
    “I left the June 7, 2010, letter on my desk.”

    Thanks.

  89. J. R. Says:

    Do you use a comma after the year (January 1, 2011) in this sentence?

    I am on vacation from January 1, 2011 through January 31, 2011.

    • Laura Says:

      Yes, you need that comma after “2011” although I would suggest you don’t need the first “2011.”

      • Tony Says:

        Hello Laura. Thank you for considering my question.

        Would this be appropriate?
        “There were multiple meetings between October 19, 2010, and August 10, 2011, and….”

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  91. Karin Says:

    I could use a hand with an issue I am experiencing. I am creating a poster for my job and I need to include a date. I am limited on space and have abbreviated the date to Wed., Sept. 7, 2011.

    Do I need the period after Wed? I had this same info worked up into a newspaper ad and the graphic designer went with no period, but I thought one should be there.

    Lots of great info here!

    Thanks.

  92. Karen Says:

    Hi Laura,

    Great blog!

    Would there be a comma after the day of the month when a time is also included?

    For example: The meeting will be on Monday, August 26, at 10:30 a.m.
    Or: The meeting will be on Monday, August 26 at 10:30 a.m.

    Thanks!

    P.S. I’m going to tweet about you. You’re fantastic!

  93. Adelina Says:

    Hi Laura,

    I think I must be the only one, but when I compose an email message, this is how I do:

    Leslie –

    Will you please call me?

    Thank you.

    However, most people would have a comma after Leslie, like this:

    Leslie,

    Will you please call me?

    Thank you.

    So, my question is, do you put a dash or a comma when you compose an email?

    Thank you Laura!

    • Laura Says:

      What you call a “dash” actually looks like a hyphen. Should you use one in email? That depends. If you want to look more professional, then use a comma. If you’re dashing off an email to a close friend, I don’t think it matters if you use a comma, dash, or hyphen.

  94. Ellen Says:

    In this discussion I have seen different answers to the question about whether a comma is needed after the date in a sentence like the following:

    The meeting was held on Monday, August 29, at 5 p.m.
    The meeting was held on Monday, August 29, at the police station.

    Can someone give a definitive answer?
    Thank you!!

  95. Shelley Says:

    Laura, what a popular topic this is! So many of us are confused about commas. I hope you will kindly answer my questions, too.

    Why is there a comma in the following sentence, and does it really need one?

    Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony until 1898, when it was ceded to the United States.

    Is it because “when it was ceded to the United States” is a nonrestrictive clause?

    • Laura Says:

      Hey, Shelley! Thanks for the question. The clause starting with “when it…” is a dependent adverbial clause. It’s also a nonrestrictive clause and nonrestrictive clauses are set off by comma(s).

      • Shari Vester Says:

        Laura, please help! MS corrects me every time I use “when” before a D/M/Y date with a comma, such as:

        …when on October 23, 1956, the student gan to march.

        Thanks!
        Shari

  96. Jo-Ann Donovan Says:

    When writing a sentence with the words “such as” or “for example”. Do I use the comma before or after these words.

    • Laura Says:

      It really depends on the placement of those phrases and the words they introduce. Phrases such as “such as” don’t always require a comma. Sorry that I can’t give you a definitive answer.

  97. michele Says:

    I read all the posts, and searched style guides, but my situation is still not clear. If I’m writing the date with a time, and don’t want to use “at”, is there a comma needed. In my case, it will be used as a subtitle for a novel’s chapter.
    Is it correct to write:
    September 8, 2010, 7:00 A.M.

    • Laura Says:

      Michele, I’ve searched my reference books and style guides, hoping to find an answer to your question. The closest I could find is from the Chicago Manual of Style, which suggests a hyphen between a date and the time, but the example it shows uses all numerals for the date. Frankly, I don’t think there is a standard. And if this is for the subtitle of a book, I fell you’re free to do whatever you think is right for the book. (Think about all the books that now use all lowercase letters for titles and subtitles; a writer has that kind of freedom nowadays.) So, I think you should use any punctuation you want, as long as it won”t confuse your readers. Personally, I think a comma is a good choice.

  98. Kaitlin Says:

    Hi! I’ve been combing the internet trying to conclude if the “city, state” rule can also appy to a body of water?

    For instance: Is it proper to write “Lake McConaughy, Nebraska” if referring to a lake not a city?

    Thank you!

    • Laura Says:

      Kaitlin, I’d hestitate to use “Lake McConaugy, Nebraska” because it is not clear if you’re referring to a town or a body of water. Think about Lake Worth, Florida, which is a city in Florida. I’d recommend recasting the sentence as “Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy” or perhaps “Lake McConaughy in Nebraska.” Otherwise, it’s not clear to your reader you’re referring to a lake and not a town or city.

  99. Doris Robinson Says:

    Is the following sentence correct or incorrect when using a comma between years in the parentheses below? I think the comma should be removed and use the word “and” (2009 and 2010).

    The 2009 and 2010 Mathematics Institute provided instructional guidance to division leaders and teachers in the implementation of the 2009 Mathematics field tests (2009, 2010).

    • Laura Says:

      Doris, I really don’t know because I have no idea what those years refer to; maybe your readers do, but I don’t. They seem to repeat the beginning of the sentence, which mentions “2009 and 2010.”

  100. Melanie Says:

    Hello! I just stumbled across this site and it’s fantastic! If you have the time, here is my question: Do I need to use a comma after the word “Sunday” when writting on an invitation “Sunday the Nineteenth of February”?

    • Laura Says:

      It looks like you’re writing a formal invitation, such as one to a wedding. I’ve consulted several wedding etiquette sites about the proper wording and punctuation of the date, and all agree that you need a comma after “Sunday.”

  101. Bob Odzinski Says:

    While I get your point about commas inside quotation marks, I don’t think commas should be used for movie titles. Shouldn’t they be italicized?

    • Laura Says:

      I think the treatment of titles (whether they’re book, movies, TV show, music titles) is a matter of house style. Some style guides recommend italicizing titles; others recommend quotation marks. The Associated Press, for example, recommends quotation marks, which I also use. Yahoo! doesn’t seem to have a standard for the treatment of titles; writers seem to be free to use italics, quotation marks, or nothing at all.

      • JZ Says:

        Actually, italics or underlining is correct for movie titles, book titles, newspaper titles and the like. Quotation marks are appropriate for articles, chapters, and so on. :)

        • Laura Says:

          JZ, it is a matter of house style, as I stated. Most legitimate news sources follow Associated Press style. And in the digital world, the use of italics and underlining is generally eschewed because it creates titles that are more difficult to read on a screen. I prefer AP style; but many publishers of books follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

  102. Cindy Says:

    Is a comma needed after the title when the titile and staff name are written in this order? Example: Planning Manager, Stan Smith or Planning Manager Stan Smith
    Which is correct?

  103. Brian Says:

    What about a series of dates?
    Discount valid for the Tuesday February 14 , Wednesday February 15, and Thursday February 16 evening performances ONLY.

    or

    Discount valid for the Tuesday, February 14 , Wednesday, February 15, and Thursday, February 16 evening performances ONLY.

  104. Mirtha Gaud Says:

    Do you put a comma after with love follow by names on the same line

  105. Ceci Says:

    In this sentence, where would you put the comma (besides the “17, 20…”):

    On December 17, 2011 at 8:30 A.M. Kim Jong Il passed away.

  106. Laura Says:

    Hi, I’m Laura!

  107. JEFF Says:

    Hi, I am printing T-shirts. My customer wants to add a business name with the city and state at the bottom of the T-shirt. I don’t know how to cite the city, followed by the state abbreviation.
    I think it should be like this:

    OKLAHOMA STEEL & WIRE MADILL, OK

    I don’t know if I should add a period at the end of “OK” or not. I also know if WIRE should have a comma separating it from MADILL.

    • Laura Says:

      It’s a little hard to answer your questions without knowing a bit more. Is all the text on the same line? If so, you definitely need to separate the company name from the city and state. I’d go for something easier to discern than a comma or period. How about a hyphen or other character. You need the comma between Madill and OK, but you don’t need a period after OK — I think we all know that it’s an abbreviation for Oklahoma. If possible, I’d recommend putting the company name on one line and the city/state below it.

  108. Eric Says:

    Sometimes I have to quote exact text or identifiers such as passwords. I try to rearrange sentences to avoid adding my own commas and periods within quotes, but that doesn’t always work and I place them outside quotes. Other times I add line breaks and list each quoted item on its own line (an obvious list). Do you have another suggestion?

  109. SZ Says:

    What about this sentence? “Friday, December 7, 2011, marked the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.” The comma after the year just looks…strange, I guess. Are you *sure* that’s correct?

    Thanks,

    S.

    • Laura Says:

      Your example of the commas is correct. I’ve checked with several sources, and they all agree that the commas are necessary.

      • Heather Says:

        Everyone is telling me I am wrong for putting a comma after the year – I know I was taught this – Im so frustrated LOL

        • Laura Says:

          Heather, don’t get frustrated! The correct use of punctuation eludes a lot of people these days. If it makes you feel better, here’s what Wikipedia says about commas and dates:
          When a date is written as a month followed by a day followed by a year, a comma separates the day from the year: December 19, 1941. This style is common in American English. The comma is necessary because of the otherwise confusing consecutive numbers, compare December 19 1941. Additionally, most style manuals, including The Chicago Manual of Style[9] and the AP Stylebook,[10] recommend that the year be treated as a parenthetical, requiring a second comma after it: “Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date.”

  110. nadia Says:

    ex is this the right way to put the commas “in ,January, is …….

    • Laura Says:

      I can’t imagine a situation where a comma between “in” and “January” would be correct. And I can’t tell from this small sample if the comma after “January” is needed.

  111. Julia Says:

    I like red,pink, and blue shoes. Does that appear correct?

  112. Steen Says:

    Hi!

    Wonderful help to be found here!

    So I will try as well :o)

    We live outside the US, our son’s English teaching is based on US English.
    We have noted that he is told to write the date like this Wednesday January 17th, 2012 is this really correct? We commonly writes it like this Wednesday, January 17, 2012 with two comma’s and not ordinal. Also in British English we believe the way is wrong – or?

    Steen

    • Steen Says:

      Anyone can help os?

      • Laura Says:

        Steen, I’m so sorry I was unable to answer you question sooner. The correct way (in the U.S.) to punctuate the date is:
        Wednesday, January 17, 2012
        as you suggest. The use of “17th” in a date appears more frequently now in writing, but is considered incorrect except in informal cases, such as in a poster advertising an event. But elsewhere, it should not be used.

        • Steen Says:

          Laura! No worries and sorry for pushing!

          So we can tell to the school what they teach is not correct!?
          He writes this each day on top of his home work:

          Today is Wednesday January 17th, 2012
          Don Bosco School

          But it should be:

          Today is Wednesday, January 17, 2012
          Don Bosco School

          Cheers Steen

        • Laura Says:

          I woulld advise you to approach the teacher with caution. Teachers can be very sensitive and defensive if told they have made a mistake or are teaching something that is incorrect. I think you should ask why the teacher has chosen that form for the date first. You might say that your understanding is that the correct form is …. But if the teacher defends his or her style, I would back off and suggest your son follow the teacher’s style — at least until the end of the school year.

        • Steen Says:

          Hi Laura,

          Absolutely your are so right!
          The teachers in English are in-sourced from a private company.
          We planned to speak with the coordinator from the school first in a “wondering” way “Why…as we understand…?”
          Thank you!!!
          Take care – Isvarly and Steen

  113. BN Says:

    Thank you for this list. I’m surprised, though, that you didn’t include commas that go before nouns of address. So few people are aware of the need for them, it seems. I’m tired of seeing things like “Hey Laura, great job” and “Get your facts straight people.” Those sentences should, of course, read “Hey, Laura, great job” and “Get your facts straight, people.” This isn’t really a criticism, though; I just feel compelled to point it out since it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

    And thanks for including the Oxford comma in the second sentence of your intro paragraph. It seems that most people don’t use it anymore, which I find to be a shame.

    • Laura Says:

      You’re right about the missing comma surrounding a noun of address. It seems that no one (except those of us who had a formal education in grammar and punctuation) is aware of that rule. It’s rare nowadays to see the comma used in that situation. It may just be part of a long-standing trend to use fewer and fewer punctuation marks. When I was in school, I was taught that a comma was required after an introductory prepositional phrase, but that’s one punctuation rule that is now considered “quaint.”

      My list of top five comma errors is based on my observations of the writing done by Yahoo!’s writers and editors. Since nouns of address are not that common in their writing, it didn’t make my list. But it’s one of my pet peeves, too.

  114. PJMalia Says:

    Comma use in the following example:

    A.) Chicago, IL is a wonderful place to live. or
    B.) Chicago, IL, is a wonderful place to live.

  115. ghostofawriter Says:

    “In the U.S., commas and periods go inside the quotation marks. That’s the American way.”

    Thank you! I am a Canadian currently living in the United States and I used to find myself confusing the locals because I grew up learning English, not American. I put the letter ‘u’ in words and pronounce the final letter of the alphabet as ‘zed’ instead of ‘zee’. I always wrote dates in the European format, my currencies had commas, and my puncuations went outside the quotations marks.

    It took me several years to adjust but now when applying for jobs I let it be known that I write and speak both English and American.
    (I know that you will find mistaks in my puncuation, I will never get it all down correctly. Its the apostrophes that dirve me up the wall.)

  116. ghostofawriter Says:

    ..and apparently my typing is wanting today as well….Darn fingers need to learn how to proofread.

  117. roseandzippin Says:

    ‘Ello! You have a wonderful site.
    Can someone please tell me which is correct?
    “In 1990, insert event here.”
    OR
    “In 1990 insert event here.”

    • Laura Says:

      Either one is fine. Years and years ago, I was taught that a comma was required following an introductory prepositional phrase, but nowadays the trend is definitely for less punctuation. The comma isn’t incorrect, but it’s also not necessary.

  118. Cherie Says:

    What is frustrating is the date and time put in red font to show who was writing their comments is even correct. It does not use a comma after the year before they state the time

  119. Mike Says:

    Is it necessary to add commas around his, or her,…

  120. Backer Says:

    Would you put a coma between an institution and its locality as in a situation below (pls note “Rotary Club” & “New York Chapter” are in two seperate lines).
    Rotary Club
    New York Chapter
    or should this be with a coma after “Rotary Club” as in below:
    Rotary Club,
    New York Chapter

  121. hassan adams Says:

    using comma have become imperative. pls elaborate me more.

  122. susan Says:

    I’m a 64-year-old proofreader and I could swear I grew up using commas as in the following sentence: My friend, Laura, is going to college. Or is it only: Laura, my friend, is going to college. What is right and why?

    • Laura Says:

      Your examples are of appositives. Laura is in apposition to “my friend.” Appositives can be restrictive or non-restrictive. Wikipedia notes “In a restrictive appositive, the second element limits or clarifies the foregoing one in some crucial way.” In the phrase “my friend Laura,” “Laura” specifies the friend you’re referring to, so it’s restrictive. (That assumes that you have more than one friend!) A restrictive appositive isn’t set off by commas. On the other hand, a non-restrictive appositive doesn’t limit the word it’s in apposition to because that word is already uniquely identified and the appositive merely adds more information. So, you’d write “Laura, my friend,” because your friend is identified by her name. Non-restrictive appositives should be set off with commas.

  123. soulsilence123 Says:

    Can anyone check my profile objective for grammar and punctuation errors.

    https://www.odesk.com/users/~~b70879ae7c6b043f

    email me at soul_silence1@yahoo.com

    Thanks in advance

  124. Gail Says:

    Would a question mark and/or an exclamation point go inside the end of a quotation mark?

    • Laura Says:

      Like many questions that have to do with language, the answer is, “it depends.” If the words inside the quotation marks are a question, the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark. Otherwise, it goes after the quotation mark:

      She asked, “Who’s going to the party?”
      Did you see the movie “Going My Way”?

      The same rule applies to the exclamation point: If the words inside the quotation mark are uttered in excitement, put the exclamation point inside the quotation marks.

      She yelled, “Get over here now!”
      I demand you return my copy of “Going My Way”!

  125. Kate Says:

    Should there be commas around the daughter’s name?
    Her daughter, April, may return in June 2009 for the reunion.
    Thanks for the article! I just wanted to check.

    • Laura Says:

      Your example is of an appositive. April is in apposition to “her daughter.” Appositives can be restrictive or non-restrictive. Wikipedia notes “In a restrictive appositive, the second element limits or clarifies the one before it in some crucial way.”

      If the woman has more than one daughter, in the phrase “her daughter April,” “April” specifies the daughter you’re referring to, so it’s restrictive.The name April limits or uniquely identifies the daughter. A restrictive appositive isn’t set off by commas. Sol this is correct: “Mary has three girls. Her daughter April is the oldest.”

      On the other hand, a non-restrictive appositive doesn’t limit the word it’s in apposition to because that word is already uniquely identified and the appositive merely adds more information. Non-restrictive appositives should be set off with commas. If you’ve already established that the woman has only one daughter, then April is non-restrictive. So: “Mary has two boys and a girl. Her daughter, April, is the oldest.”

      You’d also write “April, her daughter,” because her daughter is identified by her name.

  126. Sarah Says:

    When writing out a location and a date to show when something (a scene in a story) takes place, should there be a comma after the state’s abbreviation?
    Ex: “Chicago, IL, January 2010″ or “Chicago, IL January 2010″ or something else entirely?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Laura Says:

      Sarah, it’s a bit difficult for me to answer since I don’t know how this appears in the text. Is this a title or subtitle of some sort? Or does it appear in a sentence, which doesn’t seem likely to me. Also, is there a reason you chose to use the postal abbreviation IL? Do you need to include the state at all?

      • Sarah Says:

        They’re captions that appear above the actual narrative throughout the story to let the reader know when and where that particular part of the story is taking place. I suppose if you were to imagine it as a television show, then it would be a subtitle over an establishing shot. I definitely need to include the state as the timeline of this story takes place in several locations over several years and some of the places are lesser known towns or cities that share names with other cities in the country. I do not need to use postal abbreviations though.

        • Laura Says:

          Since this info isn’t appearing in a sentence, I think you’re free to use any punctuation (or none) that makes sense to you. Rules of punctuation apply to sentences to aid the reader. I don’t think there’s a rule you have to follow. You could separate the location from the date with some special character or characters or just an em dash. I think it would also make sense to spell out the state, since not everyone will be familiar with US state postal abbreviations.l

  127. Adam Says:

    I didn’t see this in the comments (although there are quite a few so forgive me if it has already been answered). Is it required to put the year after multiple dates within the same year? And if so, is a comma required after each date?

    For example, which of these is correct:

    The client came in on January 4 and February 5, 2012.
    The client came in on January 4, and February 5, 2012.
    The client came in on January 4, 2012, and February 5, 2012.

    Thanks in advance! And great site!

  128. laurakassner Says:

    Commas outside of quotation marks = nails on chalkboard. Thank you for validating my pet peeve. And thank you for visiting my blog, too!

  129. Diane Says:

    I’d like to know if a comma is required between No and thanks, as in this situation:

    “No thanks,” said Bob, “I’m too full for another bite.”

  130. Cathy Butler Says:

    ..at the…State of Tennessee on Thursday, the 12th day of April 2012, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
    IS THIS DATE CORRECT?

    • Laura Says:

      I have no idea. Are you sure you don’t mean the 13th day of April?

      • Cathy Butler Says:

        ??? April 12, 2012 was a Thursday. ???? My question is should a comma be between April and 2012?

        • Laura Says:

          I was being facetious since you asked if the date was correct, not if the spelling or punctuation was correct. I see no reason to include a comma between a month and a year.

  131. Cathy Butler Says:

    Thank you.
    BTW: I am at work, so “facetious” flies right over my head!!

  132. Anthony Says:

    If my name is tony and someone replies to me : great e-mail,Tony. Is the punctuation in is email to me correct?

    • Laura Says:

      Great question, Tony! When you’re addressing someone in writing and use their name, set it off with a comma (or two). Your friend’s use of the comma, Tony, is correct.

  133. L. Marie Says:

    Should the date on a program be written as August 22nd & 23rd 2012 or August 22 & 23, 2012? I think the second is best, need your advice.

  134. Jeff Says:

    So, if I’m following along here, I’m correct when I write: “…Wednesday, August 29 from 2:50-4:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel.” Yes?

  135. Carol Says:

    Do you need a comma between November and 1860.

    Thus, in Novmeber, 1860, Linclon was elected as the president of the U.S.

    • Laura Says:

      If you’re writing just a month and year (without a day), don’t separate them with a comma. And don’t include a comma after the year.

      Her daughter April may return in June 2009 for the reunion.

  136. Gilvan Says:

    I know it is probably a US writing convention but that comma inside quotation marks is so weird to me. I get the impression you also quote the pause, although they are not part of what you just quoted.

    • Laura Says:

      I think what looks “so weird” to us depends on what we’re used to seeing. In any case, the U.S. preference for putting commas (and periods) before a closing quotation mark seems to be a holdover from typesetting days and was one way to protect the comma and period from getting accidentally removed.

  137. Gurl Says:

    What about when you are writing a address like ex: 234 Main Lane St. Petersburg Missouri. Where would the comma go??

    • Laura Says:

      You’ll need a comma after the name of the street and city. If the state isn’t the last word in the sentence, then put a comma after it, too.

  138. N. Says:

    Hi, do I need a comma with city-year combination on the title page of some written term paper. New York 2012
    or New York, 2012?

  139. N. Says:

    Hi, do I need a comma in city-year combination on the title page of some written term paper?
    Is it New York 2012
    or New York, 2012? Thanks

  140. cmdrysdale Says:

    Nice post. I’m having issue with number five (placing a comma outside the quotation marks) at the moment since it only applies to US English (as you say), and not English English (and apparently some versions of Canadian English), where: ‘Her favorite movies are “First Wives Club”, “The Second Time Around”, and “The Last King of Scotland”.’ would correct (with the full stop at the end coming before the outer quotation because the punctuation falls within the quotation, but the commas coming outside the inner quotations because they’re not). The question here is, does it matter which version you use as long as you’re consistent throughout your work?

    I’m having to grapple with this one at the moment since I’ve got a book coming out in the UK which is written using British conventions and I’m wondering if I can leave it this way for the international edition (that will be on sale in the US), or whether everything needs to be changed to the US conventions (punctuation, spellings etc) for this one.

    Any thoughts on this front?

    • Laura Says:

      There are certainly a lot of differences between US English and English written in the rest of the world. The placement of the comma and period (full stop) before a closing quotation mark is just one issue. I believe the use of single and double quotation marks is reversed in the US. We use double quotation marks for the main quote, and single quotation marks within a quote. So in the US, we’d write: “Her favorite movies are ‘First Wives Club,’ ‘The Second Time Around,’ and ‘The Last King of Scotland.'” In addition to the differences in spelling, our vocabulary and many idioms are somewhat different. Most US readers would understand a book written in the UK for a non-US audience. The Harry Potter series was edited for an American readership — but the series was already a whole success in the UK, and so it made sense to invest in another edit. I don’t have any experience in editing a book for different English-speaking audiences, but you might find out more here: http://askville.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-books-edited-Americanized-Scholastic-readers/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=4096222

      • cmdrysdale Says:

        Thanks for your reply and the links. I’m just not too sure how not using the standard US protocols might affect US readers’ opinions of my work. I hadn’t really thought about the differences between US English and British English in quite so much detail before this all came up. The issue of single vs. double quotation marks and where the punctuation is placed is one issue that has been troubling me. There is also the fact that, as an American friend pointed out to me, an American teenager would never say something along the lines of ‘She fancies you!’ (meaning ‘She likes you’) as I’d written at one point. This is not even getting into the issues that resulted in the first Harry Potter book being called ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone’ in England, but ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone’ in the US. Then there is issues with words and phrases than there appears to be no US equivalent of, such as ‘Dodgy’, or ‘Knock-on effect’. And then there is the confusion between words that are the same but have very different meanings, such as what are ‘Braces’ in the UK, but ‘Suspenders’ in the US (boy did that cause me a lot of confusion at first since both words have very different meaningsw in the other country). What makes it worse is I’m Scottish, where we have words such as ‘outwith’ (which means something along the lines of ‘Not part of’ but it’s more specific than that) that are no recognised in the rest of the UK, and even that I’m from Glasgow where the word ‘How’ is used instead of ‘Why’ (it’s short for ‘How Come?’). As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language’. This seems to apply to Scotland and England, and indeed, within Scotland, between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Still not decided what to do for an American/International edition. Humm, sorry this comment seems to be less a reply and more of a blog posting in it’s own right!

        • Laura Says:

          If your story takes place in the UK, then UK expressions are appropriate, no? And maybe somethings don’t need to be changed for a US audience. I remember my daughter, at age 11, reading Adrian Mole books, and loving them — and we bought them in England, so they weren’t Americanized. I’m really out of my element, though, on this issue. Perhaps you can find an online group of writers who are dealing with, or have dealt with, the same challenge?

        • cmdrysdale Says:

          Hi Laura,

          Thanks for the suggestion. The story is actually set in the northern Bahamas, with a mixed cast of Brits, Americans and Canadians (just to make things complicated!). I’ll need to see if I can find somewhere to get some advice on this (it hadn’t reallyoccurred to me as a potential issue until a couple of days ago, until I read your posting…

  141. Charlie Says:

    Rubbish cheese r us is better

  142. Upping Your Punctuation Proficiency | March Communications Says:

    […] we mull over documents that look too comma crazy, or whether to go with one or two spaces after a period, or even proper punctuation with regard […]

  143. Lynn Mack Says:

    Does one apply the same rules for comma insertion following a full date if the date is expressed in month, day, year numbered format, i.e., 10/01/2012?
    EXAMPLE: Helen’s baby was born on Tuesday, 10/01/2012, almost 3 weeks early.

    • Laura Says:

      In your example, the commas are correct because the date is in apposition to the word “Tuesday.” But you wouldn’t always need commas, as in this care: Helen’s baby was born on 10/01/2012 at 1:00.

  144. Chris Says:

    Found this post just when I needed it! Thanks!

  145. Leelo Says:

    Did anyone notice that the example, “Her daughter April may return in June 2009 for the reunion.=” needs commas?? Should be, “Her daughter, April, may return in June 2009 for the reunion.”

    • Laura Says:

      There is no way to tell from that single sentence that commas are required around April. If she has more than one daughter, then the name April is required to identify the daughter in question and is not set off by commas. If she has only one daughter, then the commas surrounding April would be correct because the name of the daughter is not required to identify her. Since I wrote that sentence I declare it correct without commas!

      • Tamu Says:

        That’s pretty complicated. I don’t think I learned that in school, and I have a PhD! Please disregard the question I asked below about this; I hadn’t read through the entire blog.

  146. Brandon Says:

    It is ok to put a comma after the word,”about” in the following sentence?

    This book was about, a little boy trying to save the planet.

  147. Lil Says:

    What about sentences starting with “In 1995…” would you say “In 1995, blah blah blah” or “In 1995 blah blah blah”

  148. Tyler M Says:

    I think that the rule requiring a comma after the name of a state when following a city is actually wrong. So, I understand that this would be considered correct punctuation: “Ted arrived from Memphis, Tennessee, this morning.” But I refuse to follow that rule, since it does not make any sense, and I actually think that the rule is wrong. It reminds me of that line from the movie Happy Gilmore when Adam Sandler’s character tells Bob Barker: “The price is wrong, ‘Expletive’!” Why do we follow old rules in grammar if they don’t have any relevance today?

    • Laura Says:

      Just because you don’t agree with a rule doesn’t make it wrong. Punctuation rules, like the rest of the language, evolve and some day most authorities may agree with you that the comma after the state is unnecessary. But if you want to write in standard English, you’ll include it — at least for now. I actually find the comma helpful. Try reading your sentence with the single comma and pause when you get to the comma; then read the rest of the sentence without the pause. You might find that “Tennessee this morning” sounds awkward, at best.

  149. dianewms Says:

    You do not normally need a comma after the year in a date because it would make the year parenthetical, which it is not. Same with the state following a city. August 11, 1921 is my grandfather’s birthday. In this case, 1921 is NOT parenthetical; it’s a necessary part of the date. However, if you wrote the date as an introductory preposition phrase, you would put the comma after the year, not because the year needs setting off, but because it’s the end of the phrase: On August 11, 1921, my grandfather was born in Salem, Oregon to George Smith, a bricklayer, and his wife Sarah, an artist. If you use the military style of writing a date, such as 11 August 1921, you don’t put commas around the year. The bill was passed on 11 August 2011 in Washington, DC to end discrimination against comma abuse.

  150. Kim Says:

    I have a question about the comma after Dear or Hi. We can put the comma after Hi like ‘Hi, Jason’, but don’t use it after Dear. Why is it? and is it wrong if I put the comma after Dear like ‘Dear, Jason’?

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  153. Tamu Says:

    I’ve noticed that people always write:
    Hi Laura,…
    Wouldn’t it be more correct to write:
    Hi, Laura…?

    Also, is it no longer necessary to separate a person’s name in a sentence? I saw above that you wrote:
    My daughter April…
    But when I was growing up, I’m pretty sure they taught:
    My daughter, April,…

    Thank you so much for providing these answers! I’d really like to use the comma appropriately because I write so much for my job.

    • Samuel Martin Says:

      I think it would have to be:
        Hi, Laura, …

      Your second question pertains to restrictive vs nonrestrictive clauses. It depends on how many daughters you have. If you only have one daughter, her name is just parenthetical information: “My daughter, April, …”. But if you have multiple daughters, you need to clarify WHICH daughter you’re referring to: “My daughter April …” (as opposed to my daughter June, my daughter May, or my daughter December—which in retrospect was a terrible choice of name).

  154. Pauline Herr Says:

    If I am writing and email to students at a university, I need to know if the “TH” is correct or is it supposed to be omited, example, Registration will open up in August 8th; online registration is now open. Should or shouldn’t the “th” on the date be there?

  155. Ann Beach Says:

    I am a seventh grade language arts teacher and looking for sites to use in classroom. I was specifically looking for comma rule regarding dates in a sentence. When I found this site I was excited to find it had what I needed plus more. But too many mistakes in other areas!!! To be specific….
    1. Where is the sentence’s endmark?
    “…….England, last week”

    2. Last rule “placing commas outside quotation marks” is stated but narrative only discusses commas inside quotations. So, is there ever a time when the comma is outside the quotations?

    3. I believe you are not to begin a sentence with “and” unless writing a compound sentence.

    “Terrible Writing on the Web. And Writing Terribly Well for the Web” appears at the very top.

    The writer should use a comma before AND to write a compound thought or title.

    As people are getting more information from websites, that information should be presented correctly.
    Respectfully submitted, Ann Beach

    • Laura Says:

      Ann, you are correct that I inadvertently omitted the period (or “the sentence’s endmark” as you so quaintly put it) in that sentence. I will correct it.

      In the U.S., a comma always goes before the closing quotation mark. In the rest of the English-speaking world, the rule is different.

      As for beginning a sentence with “and,” it is considered a grammatical myth that has been debunked decades ago that you cannot begin a sentence with “and.” And the example you give is NOT of two sentences. They are fragments functioning as a subtitle. Combining them with a comma and the word “and” would not make them a sentence. They would still be a fragment — but a longer one.

      I suspect that you’re not working in the U.S. and that the rules you learned may be different. I hope so, at least. Given the number of mistakes you made in your own writing and your wobbly knowledge of grammar, I’d hate to think that you’re teaching American children. Our educational system has enough problems.

  156. Extra Resources Says:

    With having so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagiarism or copyright violation?
    My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help reduce content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

  157. R. Naim Says:

    Every posting date listed for comments omits the comma after the year even in the paragraph that gives the rule that if there is a comma before the year, put a comma after the year. No wonder people can’t punctuate any more since the authoritative sources can’t even follow their own rules.
    So what is it? a) The event began June 30, 2013, at 4 pm.
    b) The event began June 30, 2013 at 4 pm.

    • Laura Says:

      I have no control over the formatting of the date for comments but I don’t see any problem with the way it’s formatted since it is not embedded in a sentence and there is no chance for confusion.

  158. siberiansiren Says:

    Is this punctuation correct: Date: Tuesday, October 15; Time: 10AM; Location: Aspen Room
    My boss doesn’t want me to use the semi colons, but seems to me something should separate the Date, Time and Location.

  159. Kendra Says:

    Do you have to put a comma after a year for instance, “In 1844 Americans were experimenting with…” so would I put a comma after 1844? Thank you !

  160. Kate Says:

    Is a comma after New York required or optional in the sentence, “My relatives live in Albany, New York, and Elizabeth, New Jersey,” ?

  161. za Says:

    Do i put acooment after that usualyy?

  162. Kim Says:

    Do I need a comma after 10th in the following:
    Join us on Tuesday, December 10th for our annual meeting.

  163. ziggy Says:

    When referring to May and June 2013 would you use a comma after June?

  164. Judy, Esq Says:

    I’m sure I know this but just to be sure, is there a comma after February 24th when someone says, “On February 24th of 2012, blah, blah, blah. . .

  165. Lawri Says:

    Perfect post!

    In that last example, I would recommend not using “24th.” I see a lot of use of the ordinal form these days, and although it’s the way we speak, it’s not technically correct in writing. You might say to someone, “On February 24th of 2012, I went to the movies,” but you would write, “On February 24, 2012, I went to the movies.”

    Another way to remember to include the commas after years and city/state pairs is that the year or state is functioning as an appositive in those instances.

    • Laura Says:

      Lawri, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree that February 24, 2012, is preferred when writing, but the example was — I think — a quote so I thought both “24th” and “of” were part of the quoted matter.

  166. Jess Says:

    I’m approving a Save The Date card for my daughter. On the back of the card she has: “On August 23 I’m marrying my best friend.” Should there be a comma after the number or not? Should it be 23rd or not? Thanks!

    • Laura Says:

      Congratulations to you and your daughter! There’s no need for a comma after the 23. In general just the number 23 (and not 23rd) is preferred.

      • Jess Says:

        Thanks so much, Laura. Everyone says planning a wedding is fun. Daughter and I are wondering when the fun begins! We appreciate your help with our Save The Date. :)

  167. Trae Lickiss Says:

    Why do you need to put commas surrounding the name of a person spoken to?

  168. Trae Lickiss Says:

    does this sentence make sense for a powerpoint slide title for a slide about, putting commas around the name of a person spoken to:
    (Annunciating a name)?

    • Laura Says:

      Will your audience know what “annunciating” means? I don’t think it’s terribly clear. Most grammarians refer to this as “direct address” — directly addressing (or talking to) a person or people. It doesn’t have to be addressing them by their name, either. For example:
      Waitress, please bring me the check.
      Mom, is dinner ready?
      Children, settle down!

  169. Trae Lickiss Says:

    the sentence that i was wondering about is the bottom most one of my last comment.

  170. leejtyler Says:

    Excellent interaction here. We all know that language organic and thus, constantly growing. (Would you leave the comma out of that sentence following the rule that the ‘and’ stands in place of the comma?)

    My intended question is this: When addressing someone with an introductory phrase such as, “It’s nice to meet you, James”, would you leave the comma in or take it out? I have heard both and some authors are noting that commas are used too much these days and thus would leave it out.

    What is your opinion on these two examples?

    • leejtyler Says:

      (And yes, I would put an ‘is’ after ‘language’. ;p

    • Laura Says:

      Certainly there has been a trend for several decades to reduce the number of punctuation characters used in writing. There was a time when writers were taught to always put a comma after any prepositional phrase that started a sentence. I don’t do that now, but I still tend to be old school in many other areas of punctuation although I believe that the overriding consideration is clarity.

      I admit that I don’t understand your comment about the first example you give. I think it’s fine as it is and see no reason for another comma. I would also use the comma before a term of direct address, which I guess makes me a dinosaur.

  171. Casey Mahon Says:

    For the following example please provide the correct usage of the comma between the time and day: 7 p.m,, Wednesday, May, 17, 2014. I was taught that the comma is necessary in the same manner as the following commas; however, I have a staff person arguing it should not be included. Thank you.

  172. Kelly Says:

    Is a comma required between the date and time in this example? July 5, 2014, at 8:30 am

  173. 06.15.14 | ECS Middle School English Says:

    […] 5 Comma Errors (according to this website)? Go ahead and give it a try and check out this website: http://terriblywrite.wordpress.com/terribly-right-writing-for-the-web/top-5-comma-errors/. If for some reason the link won’t work for you, just Google “Top 5 Comma […]

  174. Brittani Says:

    In your above example, “Her daughter April may return in June 2009 for the reunion”… should there be a comma after daughter and one after April?

    • Laura Says:

      It depends. If the name April is not necessary to identify her daughter, then it should be enclosed in commas. But if she has more than one daughter, then the name is necessary to identify the daughter, and no commas are required. Since I wrote the sentence, I chose not to include the commas on the assumption that the imaginary woman had more than one imaginary daughter.

      • Jeff Nathan Says:

        Are you appositive about that? ;^}
        I think the imaginary woman’s having imaginary daughters confuses the whole issue. She can’t REALLY have two daughters if they are imaginary, can she? April told me that her imaginary mother was very inventive and may have been lying about the other daughter.

  175. Rick Says:

    One thing I keep seeing is the comma being eliminated after a short prepositional phrase that begins a sentence.
    For instance:
    In 1776, George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River.
    vs.
    In 1776 George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River.

    I would put the comma in there, but I see it so frequently not included in books, ads, periodicals, and newspapers.
    Is either way correct?

    • Laura Says:

      The trend over the last several decades has been to use less punctuation. At one time, a comma after an opening prepositional phrase (even a short one) was considered a requirement. Now, more and more authorities say it is unnecessary after a very short phrase; some say it’s unnecessary after a phrase of four or fewer words. Others (like Grammar Girl) recommend using it after any opening prep phrase. Still others say, it depends; if it’s necessary for the rhythm of the sentence or for clarity, then use it.

      I don’t think you’re ever wrong by including a comma, but I don’t think it’s a requirement, either. I’m all for leaving it up to the writer and editor (if there is one) to decide on a sentence-by-sentence basis.

  176. Heather Says:

    Does this sentence need a comma after 21:

    I need your feedback by Monday, July 21 in order to have time to summarize the data.

  177. CHESHTA Says:

    IS THIS CORRECT TO WRITE .. JUNE’2011 ?


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