Comma Before Such As | Correct Use & Examples

Commas updated on  December 6, 2023 4 min read
The prepositional phrase “such as” is used to clarify the phrase it modifies or to introduce examples.

  • Include a comma before “such as” when it’s used to introduce nonessential examples.
  • Don’t include a comma before “such as” when it’s used to introduce essential identifying information.

“Such as” introducing nonessential examples (comma)

“Such as” introducing essential identifying information (no comma)

Many European languages, such as Italian and French, are descended from Latin.

Resources such as libraries and online databases are essential to student learning.

The shop sells a number of useful tools, such as hammers, shovels, and rakes.

Jonah enjoys activities such as hiking and swimming.

Tip
If you’re unsure whether you need a comma, try removing the “such as” phrase. If the sentence still conveys the same basic meaning, include a comma. If not, don’t include a comma:
  • “Many European languages are descended from Latin” conveys the same meaning as the original sentence.
  • “Jonah enjoys activities” is vague and does not express the intended meaning. The “such as” clause is essential, so no comma is needed.
You can also use the QuillBot Grammar Checker to ensure your punctuation is correct.

When to use a comma before “such as”

“Such as” is commonly used to introduce a nonrestrictive clause (or nonessential clause): a clause that can be omitted from a sentence without impacting its essential meaning. When used in this way, “such as” means the same thing as “for example” or “for instance” and is followed by one or more examples. Nonrestrictive clauses are usually set off from the rest of the sentence with commas. You can tell that a “such as” clause is nonrestrictive if the information it provides is not essential and can be removed without impacting the intended meaning.

Examples: Nonrestrictive “such as” clause
Coordinating conjunctions, such as “and,” “but,” and “so,” are used to connect independent clauses.
Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect independent clauses.

The preposition In the above example, removing the “such as” clause doesn’t affect the basic meaning. The examples are useful but not necessary to understand what is being discussed. When a “such as” clause is preceded by a comma, it must also end with a comma. The only exception is when the clause appears at the end of a sentence (in which case it should be followed by a period).

Examples: Comma before and after “such as” clause
Environmental issues, such as air pollution, deforestation, and overpopulation impact the planet.
Environmental issues, such as air pollution, deforestation, and overpopulation, impact the planet.

When you don’t need a comma before “such as”

“Such as” can also be used to provide essential identifying information about another part of the sentence (e.g., the subject). When used in this way, the “such as” clause is a restrictive or essential clause.

Restrictive clauses provide essential information and shouldn’t be set off from the rest of the sentence with commas. You can tell that a “such as” clause is restrictive if you can’t remove it without impacting the intended meaning.

Examples: Restrictive “such as” clause
Words such as “and,” “but,” and “so” are used to connect independent clauses.
Words are used to connect independent clauses.

When the “such as” clause is removed, the sentence no longer makes sense. It suggests either that all words are coordinating conjunctions (which is incorrect) or that an unspecified number of words are (a statement that is too vague to be worth making). In this instance the “such as” clause is restrictive and should not be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas.

Comma after “such as”

It’s always incorrect to put a comma after “such as,” regardless of whether you’ve used a comma before it. “Such as” should be directly followed by the words it introduces, without any intervening punctuation.

Examples: Comma after “such as” (incorrect)
Famous landmarks, such as, the Eiffel Tower, attract tourists from around the world.
Famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, attract tourists from around the world.

Using other punctuation with “such as”

It’s incorrect to put a colon directly after “such as.” While colons can be used to introduce lists of examples, they should come at the end of a complete sentence. As it’s never correct to end a sentence with “such as,” it’s a mistake to use a colon after it.

Examples: Using a colon after “such as”
Jen is studying a number of topics, such as: photo editing, video editing, and graphic design.
Jen is studying a number of topics, such as photo editing, video editing, and graphic design.
Jen is studying a number of topics, such as the following: photo editing, video editing, and graphic design.

It’s also incorrect to add a semicolon before or after “such as.” A semicolon is typically used to connect two independent clauses. As “such as” is not used at the beginning or end of independent clauses, this is a mistake.

Examples: Using a semicolon before or after “such as” (incorrect)
Jen is studying a number of topics; such as video editing, and graphic design.
Jen is studying a number of topics, such as; video editing, and graphic design.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, rhetorical devices, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


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Among vs between

Irony

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has taught university English courses on effective research and writing. He is particularly interested in language, poetry, and storytelling.

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