Comma dilemma

First of all, English isn’t my first language, nor do I live in an English speaking country at this point, so I learn from example, by reading as many published books I can. And I’ve been edited by a friend who has a degree in English and is currently working as an editor, who never removed my commas but only added missing ones. Now I’m being told by a few my commas are correctly placed but I have too many. I use Grammarly and it suggests a few removals. When I removed those, my editor puts them back in (she doesn’t edit my whole book, so I’m on my own most of the time). I’m confused. Can someone please educate or link me to a reliable resource on where to place or not place the )$&@ing comma?

Here comes the fun part: It depends on whether you’re using Brit-Eng or American too. Different comma rules for those suckers.

I’ve given into Grammarly at this point. I don’t know how English commas work and I’ve had it explained a billion times by different people. I’m just not getting it.

So, you’re not alone. And Imma stay and see if there’s some good resources that’ll be shared. :eyes:


there’s an example that says “Thousands of protesters showed up, they were shouting” is wrong, when “Thousands of protesters showed up, shouting” works just as well


The thing with Grammerly is that it sucks. Yes, it’s great in general, but it’s still not the best way to proofread your work. It sometimes suggests things that are plain wrong. Your commas are probably right, trust me, and your editor probably would appreciate it if you trusted Grammerly in spellcheck more and less with commas. :slight_smile:


What the ever loving $&&@. You’d think different spelling and voltage and measurement would be enough!!! So what? Now I have to question every comma commenter asking where they’re from? :joy::joy::joy:


also british commas (oxford comma) is basically that u split unrelated items in any sort of list to avoid ambiguity (i saw my wife, sister and mom at dinner) is american, while (i saw my wife, sister, and mom at dinner) has an oxford comma


I do. I had someone very kindly offer to do all my commas for me - but I had to decline because they’re American and I write in British English (’:

Here’s one site that talks about it a bit:


Which version of English are you using on Grammarly? Chances are you’re using one version on Grammarly and your friend is correcting based on the other :slight_smile:

Sometimes the English language can be so much fun! :joy:

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Grammarly is likely removing stylistic commas that your friend prefers, which is why they put them back in. Stylistic commas are optional, and my guess is grammarly is only looking for required ones. I wouldn’t worry about them. Style is preference, and those who say to remove them are saying it because of preference.

The easiest example is the oxford comma, where you place a comma at the end of a list.

For example, penny likes cakes, pies, and chocolates. The comma before and is the oxford comma which is a stylistic choice. I prefer it; others don’t.


Coming from both backgrounds I first have to figure out which comma rule I’ve been using. But according to @podxnok I’ve been using Oxford commas (which might have triggered American readers to call for their execution?). Come to think of it, my editor writes British English, that’s why she puts them back??

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Yep! Definitely figure out what you’re using. It’ll make your comma life a tiny bit easier, and Grammarly will be easier to navigate :smile:


The Oxford comma is in the Chicago Manual of Style, which is American-based. It’s just something all editors are taught to include as far as traditional publishing (not newspapers or journalism, etc.).


Some rules are

  • In a list of three or more, put a comma after each item except for the last one.

[edit- oh, I guess there’s a debate about this one lol]

I like grapes, raspberries, and bananas.

  • Put a comma after a dialogue tag

Margret said, “No way!”

  • A comma goes after something that is extra information that explains or clarifies something.

Harry, a recent high school graduate, wanted find a job.


I was also under the impression that you also put commas where you want readers to pause for effect and I’ve seen published authors do that a lot but I never checked the rules. I hope you’re right that it’s a preference. I was sitting here trying to come up with some kind of super power to go through 80K fixing commas that I don’t know how to fix lol

This is true! Recently, I’ve seen it looked down upon because commas have very specific rules. As long as you know what rules you are breaking and you break it in an effective way, you’re good.

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also also, if you’re super confused about whether or not there are too many commas, alternate with en dashes

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I’m not even sure. But chances are I have both kinds of readers and they’re telling me to change A to B and the other will come and tell me to put A back and my editing will never, ever end!!



If you’re certain there are not British and American ways to use en dash…

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American way:

Use an em-dash (—) in sentences as you would periods/commas/semicolons/etc. Use an en-dash (–) between two dates/ranges/numbers/etc.


It is very likely, haha. Like Fray suggested, if you confirm which English version you are using (American or British) and familiarise yourself with the rules they follow, then you can stand by that and hopefully avoid all of the back and forth editing :grin:

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