How to Use Commas With And

1 and 1 equals 3

Knowing when to use commas and the word “and” might seem tricky. If you keep two rules in mind, you should be able to use commas with and correctly.

I will try to be brief in this post.

You should use a comma before and when you are combining two ideas that could be individual sentences.

For example, this sentence is correct:

You should use a comma when you have two ideas, and each idea could be an individual sentence.

How do you know this?

The sentence could be rewritten as two sentences:

You should use a comma between two ideas. Each idea could be an individual sentence.

This sentence is incorrect: 

You should use a comma to connect two ideas, and between items in a series.

How do you know this?

Because when you split the two parts, one is not a complete sentence:

You should use a comma to connect two ideas. Between items of a series.

Do you see how the second part is not a complete sentence? Therefore, no comma is needed.

The same rule is true for commas and any conjunction.

What About Using Commas Before and in Items of a Series?

The rule is that when you have items in a series, you should put a comma before the and:

Today my dog chased after squirrels, gnawed on some bones, and chewed up my slippers.

There is a controversy about whether the comma before and is necessary. My personal opinion is why make things more difficult than they need to be. Use the commas and you cannot be wrong. That comma is called the Oxford Comma, and you should follow the link if you want to know more about it.

I tried to be brief, and I hope I was.

And I tried to punctuate the sentence above correctly. Did I do so?

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