Commas are the most misused punctuation marks in the English language. Full stops or periods indicate a complete break. On the other hand, commas indicate a smaller break. Some people use commas as a small pause in their sentences. It is used to separate words, items, clauses, and certain parts of a sentence.  The use of commas in a sentence can be very confusing. Whenever we write any text for professional purposes, we want it to be perfect. And we obviously don’t want a negative impact on our reputation because of the incorrect use of a comma. 

The comma is an important part of a sentence and the rules of using a comma are quite tricky. Yet most people don’t quite know how to correctly use it in a sentence. Sometimes people spread wrong or incorrect information about the usage of commas making the situation more nerve-wracking. 

There is an opinion or suggestion out there that you should use commas when you would like to pause while speaking. Although this might sound correct, this rule might cause you to write grammatically incorrect sentences. 

Sometimes, the wrong use of a comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence. In other words, using a comma in the wrong place can turn a positive sentence into a negative sentence. This is quite a silly mistake and we obviously don’t want that. In this article, we will discuss the basic comma rules. We will try to elaborate on when to use commas and when not to use commas. Also, we will also add if using a comma before “where” is correct or not.  As a result, you can be more clear whether or not you need to be using commas before relative pronouns such as “where,” ” which” or “who”.

Table of Contents

The rules for using commas in a sentence:

A comma is a punctuation mark, a very important part of a sentence. A comma must be placed at the right place of a sentence so that you can express your thoughts in the correct way. Wrong use of a comma may sometimes cause a sentence to represent an opposite meaning. Here in this section, we will discuss some of the basic and also important rules of using commas in a sentence.

Whenever you write a list of items in a sentence you use commas to separate them. For example,

   The lemonade requires some lemons, sugar, salt, and water.

You must use a comma before writing a quotation. For example,

He said, “Let’s play a game.”

If you are addressing a person in your sentence, use a comma after the name. For example,

Dad, I bought you a new pen.

Sam, Can you please bring your book?

Hello, Samantha, Good to see you

Respected Sir, I have submitted my homework.

When your sentence has two independent clauses which are joined by a coordinating conjunction such as and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet; use a comma between them. For example,

Maxim is a good boy, though his behavior is affected by his bad friends.

The teacher is strict but fair.

Elizabeth will go, or He leaves.

One should use a comma for separating a dependent clause from an independent clause. In this case, the dependent clause must be before the independent clause. For example,

After the exam, he called me.

Being the magistrate, he had nothing to do.

If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to call me.

However, if the independent clause is placed before the dependent clause, there is no need to use a comma. For example,

I will go if he comes.

He called me after the exam

Call me when you can.

You don’t need to use commas between correlative conjunctions. Correlative conjunctions are words that come in pairs such as not only, but also. For example,

You can go there not only for the experience but also for knowledge.

In this section, we have discussed the most common rules of using commas in a sentence. This is where most people make silly mistakes. We should know the right rules and implement them to make our sentences flawless.

“Where” – meaning and grammatical explanation

In case you don’t know, ‘where’ means an indication of a place. In other words, “in which place” or “in what place.” ‘Where’ can be used with different meanings according to different parts of speech.

As an adverb, “where” determines or indicates the position or circumstances of a person or item. 

An example of using ‘where’ in a sentence as an adverb,  

Where do you live?

Where do you stand in this decision?

Where is the book?

Where is the position of the team?

As conjunction, “where” indicates in or at which or what place, point, or location of a subject. For example, 

Find where the packet is.

Find where the answer is hidden.

And lastly, as a pronoun, “where” indicates which place or point of a subject. We have written an example of using “where” in a sentence as a pronoun to make it easier to understand.

 Where did the student come from?

This is the place where we met her.

That is where the money was taken.

In short, we can say that we can use “where” in a sentence as three parts of speech that include adverb, conjunction, and adverb. If “where” is used as a conjunction or adverb in a sentence, there is not much need to add a comma in the sentence. But, if “where” is used as a pronoun, there are certain cases where you must and mustn’t add a comma before “where”. The main motive of this article is to discuss the rules of using commas before “where”. We will understand when we need to add a comma before “where” and when we don’t need to add a comma before “where”.

When do you need to add a comma before “where”?

The answer to this is, when “where” is used as a relative pronoun in the sentence. If you want to understand whether or not you need to place a comma before a relative pronoun such as “where”, “which” or ‘which, you have to understand the function of the relative clause of the sentence. 

In case you are wondering, “what is a relative pronoun?” A relative pronoun is a word that connects a dependent or relative clause to an independent clause completing the meaning of a sentence. In other words, relative pronouns establish a relation between the main clause of a sentence and its subordinate or relative clause. 

If the meaning of the subordinate or relative clause has no meaning of its own and one can consider it as an extra to the sentence and without it, the sentence can express its full meaning then you need to place a comma before the relative pronoun.

In easier words, if the independent clause after “where” can express the complete meaning of the sentence without the help of the dependent clause placed before where, then you need to place a comma before “where” or after the subordinate or dependent clause. This generally means that the dependent clause of the sentence holds some extra meaning without which the sentence can be clear and meaningful.

We tried to explain with an example in this section so you can be more clear about whether to place a comma before where,

I go to school, where I meet my friends

If we try to explain this, we can see that “I go to school where” is the dependent clause, and “ I meet my friends” is the independent clause of the example sentence above.  The sentence can provide clear meaning without “I go to school”. And this information can be considered extra since the independent clause “I meet my friends” is sufficient to express the full meaning of the sentence. 

Some more examples include,

My brother lives in Canada, where he is pursuing higher education.

My mom goes to the market, where she buys fresh groceries.

My friends will go to the mall where they will shop for the party.

When do you don’t need to add a comma before “where”?

Now, we think you can understand when you don’t need to add a comma before “where”. It is when the independent clause cannot express clear and understandable meaning without the dependent clause. When the relative clause before the relative pronoun such as “where”, “which” or “who” holds essential information, you don’t need to place a comma before it. 

In other words, when the dependent clause holds an important part in the sentence to express its meaning and the independent clause is incomplete without it, you don’t need to place a comma before “where”. In this case, “where” is not a relative pronoun, it is a restrictive pronoun.

Some examples that can help you understand when you don’t need to add a comma before relative pronouns such as “where”,

My brother is living in Canada where he is pursuing higher education.

I will be there where we first met.

He will stay where she likes.

In the above examples, you can see that the dependent clause holds essential information without which the independent or main clause cannot express the complete and clear meaning of the sentence. In such cases, you don’t need to add a comma before “where”.

Closing Thought

The rules of placing commas before “where” can be quite tricky and confusing. We cannot afford to make silly mistakes in the usage of commas in our professional lives. Just to make it easier, always remember that if the sentence can express an understandable clear meaning without the part of the sentence placed before “where” then you need to place a comma before “where”. On the contrary, if the sentence cannot express a complete meaning without the part before “where” then you don’t need to place a comma before where. Well, the rules can be hectic at first but with practice, you can master the rules of using commas perfectly. 

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Samuel Smith

Samuel Smith is a curious person with tremendous experience. He enjoys sharing his story with everyone and is always ready for new opportunities.