What Are Commas, Semicolons, and Colons

Commas indicate pauses or brief breaks between ideas in sentences. They add pacing and clarity. Many writers either neglect to use or overuse commas, which complicates their sentences, or can sometimes obscure the meaning. The rules about commas are straightforward and not difficult to learn.

Many writers are confused about when to use a semicolon and when to use a colon. The main rule for these punctuation marks is to use them sparingly. Semicolons join independent clauses and items in a series. Colons introduce a list, a quote or formal statement, a restatement, or an explanation. Once you master the rules for effective punctuation, your writing skills will improve.