The purpose of punctuation is to help your reader navigate your writing more easily and to make the thoughts you’re expressing as clear and intelligible as possible. Commas are a great tool to help you do that. They’re also among the more confounding forms of punctuation. That’s because they can be both overused and underused. So here’s the best advice for using commas: use common sense. Use enough commas to make your writing and your point clear, as well as to show the reader where you’d like them to take a pause. But don’t use any more than you absolutely need.
There are lots of ways to use the comma, but let’s focus on one of the biggies: separating items in a series. Most series are pretty simple (e.g., Ryan and Sara visited England, France and Italy during their European vacation.). You’ll note that there’s not a comma after France. That’s because it’s not necessary for clarity. The separation among the items is clear and the added clutter of another comma wouldn’t make it any more so. Sometimes, though, that comma is necessary to make sure your reader doesn’t get lost and your meaning is clear. If a part of the series uses another conjunction or two, for example (I’m taking a Caribbean cruise to Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago.), use comma sense and include it.
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