Grammar Menu
Choosing Words Correctly

This page was composed by a credentialed teacher in California who loves Jesus. "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 1:14

Rules for using commas:

Directions: Move the arrow over or touch each highlighted word or segment and look for a definition or explanation in the box.
Note: Quotes with Jesus speaking are referenced in red.

1. Use commas to separate items in a series of three or more words, phrases, or clauses.

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8.

In the following example a coordinate conjunction (and) precedes each item in a series. If you are including coordinate conjunctions, don't use commas to separate the items in a series.

"I am the way and the truth and the life." John 14:6 .
2. Use a comma between two consecutive adjectives that describe the same noun.

Our compassionate, gracious God is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Exodus Chapter 34.

To check for correctness of consecutive adjectives try one of these:
A) Replace the comma with and. If using and makes sense, the comma is correct.
B) Reverse the order of the adjectives. If the sentence is correct with the adjectives reversed, you need a comma between them.

3. Use a comma before a coordinate conjunction that joins independent clauses. A clause or group of words is independent if it's complete with a noun and verb.

Coordinating conjunctions link words or word groups.
Here are the seven coordinating conjunctions (Acronym: FANBOYS):
for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
Coordinate conjunctions join independent clauses and add meaning to sentences.

The following is an example of a coordinating conjunction between two independent clauses:

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but

whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:18.

If there is an independent clause and a dependent clause with a coordinate conjunction between them, don't use a comma before the conjunction.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but

cannot kill the soul. Matthew 10:28.

Don't use a comma when two words are joined by a conjunction: "He was polite but stern".

4. Use a comma after these one-word introductory expressions: Yes, No, Well, or Oh, if they are at the beginning of the sentence.

Oh, the raging of many nations-they rage like the raging sea. Isaiah 17:12.
5. Use a comma when you address a person. In the following example, you are addressing, in prayer, the first person of the Trinity: God the Father.

" Father, thank you that you have heard me." John 11:41.

6. Use a comma to set off an introductory expression, phrase, or clause from an independent clause that follows it.
Introductory expressions may begin with: If, Because, Even though, Unless, Before, Since, After.

" If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching."
John 14:23.

"After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee." Mark 14:28.

Because the Lord is my sheperd, I have everything I need! Psalm 23:1.
7. Use a comma after introductory phrases (Prepositional or Participle).

To learn, you must want to be taught. Proverbs 12:1.
Use a comma to mark off a participial phrase:

On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 1 Samuel 17:11
Saul and all the Israelites are the subject of the sentence. The main verbs in the sentence are "were dismayed and terrified."
"On hearing the Philistine's words" is a participle phrase. It functions as an adverbial phrase that provides additional information about the circumstances surrounding Saul and the Israelites being dismayed and terrified.

8. Use commas before and after a group of words that are not needed for the understanding of the main idea of the sentence.

Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again. John 11:25.

9. Use a comma to set off words that explain a noun.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19.

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