Comma Before “And” – Rules & Examples

14.07.23 Commas Time to read: 6min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


The use of commas often causes confusion among students, leading to errors in academic writing. This regularly happens since many are unaware of the exact rules and the exceptions. This article seeks to elucidate the specific rules and considerations that govern the usage of commas before the conjunction “and”, offering clarity through examples and explaining exceptions to the rules.

When to place a comma before “and”

In general, a comma must be placed before the conjunction “and” for several cases. There are also set rules, where a comma is not necessary, as illustrated below.


In a list

Parenthetical expressions

Joining independent clauses


No comma

A pair of adjectives

Linking subjects/objects

Joining dependent clauses

Between verbs or predicates

The rules for comma usage can vary depending on the particular Style Guide being followed. Additionally, certain complex sentences may have exceptions when it comes to placing commas. It’s important to keep in mind whether your sentence is easy to read and clear, even without the use of a comma.

Comma before “and”

Occasionally, a comma before “and” is about providing clarity and preventing misunderstanding in written English. A comma before “and” is used in several cases:

  • In a series of three or more items
  • Joining independent clauses
  • After parenthetical expressions

The use of a comma can change the meaning of a sentence.

In a list

Commas are used to separate items in a list to ensure that each individual item or group of items is clearly distinguished from the others. When you have a series of three or more items, a comma should be used before “and” in most writing styles. This is known as the Oxford comma or serial comma.


  • For breakfast, I had eggs, toast, and coffee.
  • In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, and cycling.
  • My favorite countries are Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Two independent clauses

When two independent clauses (clauses that could each stand alone as a complete sentence) are connected by a coordinating conjunction (such as “and”), a comma is often used before the conjunction to separate the two clauses. If “and” is used to connect two independent clauses (each could stand alone as a complete sentence), a comma is necessary. This helps to clarify where one complete thought ends and the next begins.


  • She enjoys hiking, and he prefers swimming.
  • It started raining, and we decided to stay indoors.
  • I finished my work, and then I started cooking dinner.

Parenthetical expressions

Parenthetical expressions are words, phrases, or clauses that are not essential to the overall meaning of the sentence. Commas before “and” are used to set these off from the rest of the sentence to clarify that they’re additional, nonessential information.


  • John, who is my best friend, and I are going to a concert.
  • Paris, despite its busy atmosphere, and London are my favorite cities.
  • The new employee, eager to impress his boss, and his coworker stayed late.

No comma before “and”

In general, there are four cases when a comma before “and” should definitely not be used. These cases will be listed below:

  • Joining subjects or objects
  • Linking verbs or predicates
  • Joining dependent clauses
  • Connecting a pair of adjectives that modify the same noun

Linking subjects/objects

When “and” is used to join two nouns or objects that are acting as a single entity, a comma before “and” is not necessary and should rather be avoided.


  • My sister and I went to the store.
  • He bought apples and oranges from the market.
  • The cat and the dog are playing together.

Between verbs or predicates

You shouldn’t use a comma between two or more predicates that share the same subject. A predicate is what’s being said about the subject. Also, if you’re using “and” to connect two or more verbs that the same subject is doing, there’s no need for a comma.


  • She sings and dances very well.
  • I cooked dinner and washed the dishes.
  • They read the book and wrote a report.

Joining dependent clauses

A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb, but it doesn’t express a complete thought and can’t stand alone as a sentence. No comma is needed when “and” connects two dependent clauses.


  • You should finish your homework and make sure you understand the material.
  • He will save his money and buy a new car when he has enough.
  • I will go to the store and pick up some milk if we’re out.

A pair of adjectives

When a pair of adjectives directly modifies a noun and there is no need for a pause or separation between them, a comma before “and” is not necessary. The absence of a comma in this context helps maintain the smooth flow and clarity of the sentence.


  • She wore a beautiful and elegant dress.
  • He has a cute and playful puppy.
  • They live in a large and comfortable house.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

Test your understanding of using commas before “and” by placing them in the right positions in the 10 sentences. You can then find the correct answers in the second tab to check if you understood when to place a comma before “and.”

  1. I love to read books and I also enjoy painting.
  2. She bought apples pears and oranges from the store.
  3. He ran quickly to the station and caught the train.
  4. She is a kind and generous person.
  5. We must wake up early tomorrow and prepare for the trip.
  6. The room is clean and it smells good.
  7. My friend and I are going to the park.
  8. The car is old and it needs repairs.
  9. She reads books and writes essays in her free time.
  10. He’s a well-known writer and a professor at the university.
  1. I love to read books, and I also enjoy painting.
  2. She bought apples, pears, and oranges from the store.
  3. He ran quickly to the station, and caught the train.
  4. She is a kind and generous person.
  5. We must wake up early tomorrow, and prepare for the trip.
  6. The room is clean, and it smells good.
  7. My friend and I are going to the park.
  8. The car is old, and it needs repairs.
  9. She reads books and writes essays in her free time.
  10. He’s a well-known writer and a professor at the university.
Looking to print your dissertation?
BachelorPrint's printing services are now attuned to the needs of students in India. Explore our cost-effective solutions for printing and binding your dissertation. Starting at just ₹ 650.00 with FREE express delivery, rest easy while we handle the details!


There are three cases when a comma is placed before “and”. These will be listed below.

  • Series of three or more items: The restaurant serves pizza, pasta, and salads.
  • Joining independent clauses: I went to the store, and I bought some groceries.
  • Parenthetical expressions: I visited my favorite city, London, and I had a wonderful time.

Typically, a comma is not placed immediately after the word “and” in standard English usage. However, there are a few specific cases in which it might occur:

  1. Introductory phrase or clause following “and” (I finished my work, and, after taking a short break, I started cooking dinner.)
  2. Parenthetical information following “and” (He wanted to go swimming, and, despite the cold weather, he jumped in the lake.)
  3. Direct address following “and” (Pick up your toys, and, John, make sure to clean up your room.)

However, in most cases, a comma will not follow “and.”

No, there are rules for when a comma should be placed before “and.” When there are three or more items in a list, a comma is typically used before the final “and”, but also when joining two independent clauses (complete thoughts that can stand alone as sentences).

Yes, it is acceptable to start a sentence with “and.” Starting a sentence with “and” can be used to create a sense of continuation or to connect ideas. While traditionally, it was discouraged to begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions like “and,” “but,” or “or,” modern usage allows for more flexibility in sentence structure.


  • And so, the journey began.
  • And then, everything changed.