top of page
  • Jordan Keller

What I Learned At Writing Group: Commas & Conjunctions

One of the first things I learned at writing group was the proper use of commas. I spent my whole life from fourth grade on thinking I understood them, but nope.

So what is a comma? Simply put, it’s used to indicate a pause in a sentence.

A safe rule of thumb is to read your sentence out loud and wherever you would naturally pause, you’ll add a comma.

The kind of commas that tripped me, and several other group members, up the most are the ones hanging with conjunctions. Your “and,” “or,” “but,” and “because” words to name a few.

So what’s the rule with them? Despite what my fourth grade self remembers, it’s not always before.

You use a comma if both sides of the sentence can stand on their own.

Here’s an example:

Jordan went to a restaurant, and Jordan ordered a milkshake.

Each side of the conjunction can be its own complete sentence. You can think of it like the comma taking the place of a period if you were to separate this sentence into two.

Jordan went to a restaurant. Jordan ordered a milkshake.

Here’s an example for a sentence that doesn't need a comma.

Dillion went to a restaurant and ordered a sandwich.

“ordered a sandwich.” isn’t a complete sentence so you don’t use the comma with the conjunction.

Let’s recap. A comma indicates a natural pause and should only be used with conjunctions when both sides of the conjunction are complete.

I'm Jordan S. Keller, a fantasy author and four year host of the Central Cincinnati Fiction Writers Workshop.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page