Comma Before or After And | Correct Use & Examples

Commas updated on  February 14, 2024 2 min read
Put a comma before “and” when it’s used to connect two independent clauses. An independent clause contains both a subject and a verb and can function as a standalone sentence.

Example: Comma before and connecting two independent clauses
Andy cooks dinner, and Dana cleans the house.

However, no comma should be used when “and” connects two verbs with the same subject. In the following example, the subject, Peter, performs both actions (working and sleeping).

Example: “And” connecting two verbs with one subject
Peter works at night and sleeps during the day.

These rules also apply to using commas with the coordinating conjunctions “or” and “but.”

When to use a comma before “and”

You should put a comma before “and” when it’s used to connect two independent clauses (i.e., clauses with separate subjects and verbs).

This is the case even when the subject of the second clause is a pronoun that refers to the same subject as the first clause, or when both clauses contain the same verb.

Examples: Comma before and connecting independent clauses
Adi works in a bookshop, and he collects first editions.
Sasha paints landscapes, and she sells them online.
The cake smelled good, and it looked delicious.

In these instances, you can omit the second subject. Doing this simplifies your sentence and eliminates the need for a comma.

Examples: Simplified phrasings with no comma required
Adi works in a bookshop and collects first editions.
Sasha paints landscapes and sells them online.
The cake smelled good and looked delicious.

However, when a sentence is short and the two independent clauses are closely related, the comma is usually considered optional.

Example: “And” connecting two short independent clauses
You ask and I answer.
You ask, and I answer.

When you don’t need a comma before and

“And” can be used to connect various types of words, like nouns, verbs, and adjectives. When “and” is used to connect two words, instead of two independent clauses, you shouldn’t include a comma.

Example sentences: “And” connecting nouns, verbs, and adjectives
Amy, and Tessa are going swimming.
Amy and Tessa are going swimming.

Every morning, Gina does yoga, and drinks a smoothie.
Every morning, Gina does yoga and drinks a smoothie.

The house is old, and dusty.
The house is old and dusty.

It’s usually recommended to include a comma before “and” at the end of lists that contain three or more items. This is called the Oxford comma.

Example: Oxford comma
Lucy has lived in Paris, New York, and Berlin.

When to use a comma after and

A comma should only appear after “and” when it is followed by an interrupter (i.e., a parenthetical expression that provides non-essential information). In these instances, a comma should also appear after the interrupter.

Example: Comma after and
I play the drums, and, occasionally, I play the guitar.
The finalists were excited and, as you can imagine, nervous.

Even if a sentence starts with “and,” you shouldn’t put a comma after it unless it is directly followed by a parenthetical expression.

We walked for miles. And, we never rested.
We walked for miles. And we never rested.
We walked for miles. And, although we were tired, we never rested.

Worksheet: Comma before or after “and”

Test your knowledge about when to use a comma before or after “and” with the worksheet below. Add commas wherever you think they are needed.

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in literature. He writes about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.

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