Posted by: Jack Henry | July 16, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Commas, cont.

Hello folks. I apologize for a missing comma and a missing “the” in my last Editor’s Corner. It’s summertime and I think my brain was at the beach.

Today, I have the comma rules sequel for you! Get comfortable, grab some tea, pretend there is a stirring concerto playing in the background, and join me for rules five through eight.

Rule 5

Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun.

Okay. What the heck am I talking about? Uncoordinated? No, that’s me, not the adjectives. Here is a little bit of information on coordinate and non-coordinate adjectives:

You can decide if two adjectives in a row are coordinate by asking the following questions:

  • Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written in reverse order?
  • Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written with “and” between them?

If you answer yes to these questions, then the adjectives are coordinate and should be separated by a comma.


  • Joy was a clever, intelligent woman. (coordinate)
  • Lanie has a giant bread box. (non-coordinate)
  • I have two navy wool suits. (non-coordinate)
  • The street was lined with large, green Sycamore trees and red, white, and blue flags. (coordinate)

Rule 6

Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate elements or to indicate a distinct pause or shift.

Oh, for the love of Pete! Too much coordination required! Now it is contrasted coordinate elements. What am I talking about? Have a look:


  • He was merely ignorant, not stupid.
  • The hippopotamus seemed very reflective, almost human.
  • You and Maurice are close friends, aren’t you?

Rule 7

Use commas to set off all geographical names, the day and year in dates, addresses (except the street number and name), and titles in names.


  • Birmingham, Alabama, gets its name from Birmingham, England.
  • My uncle lives at 234 Handyman Lane, Peoria, Illinois.
  • December 22, 1979 was a momentous day in his life.
  • Bono B. McDonald, MD, will be the principal speaker.

Note: When you use just the month and the year, no comma is necessary after the month or year: "The highest temperature in Springfield, Missouri, was 108° F, July 1986.”

Rule 8

Use commas wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading.


To Trevor, Noah was a generous man.

Commas are important!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: