Does a Comma Take the Place of “And”?

I was an English teacher for 40 years. Every semester when it was time to teach punctuation, a student would gently remind me about a rule I hadn’t mentioned: “A comma takes the place of and.”

No, it doesn’t. But there were always a few students who would nod knowingly.

If I thought hard enough, I could probably come up with a sentence where you could indeed substitute a comma for and. But I’d rather save my brain cells for other tasks.

So – if you harbor this urban legend, let it go.

Here are three comma rules that will cover most sentences:

  1. Use a comma when a sentence begins with an extra idea.
  2. Use a comma when you join two sentences with and or but (or any of the seven FANBOYS words).
  3. Use a pair of commas with an interrupter.

You can learn more about these comma rules here. You can download a free handout here. Happy commas!


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