Basic Punctuation

Lists

Commas are used to separate words in a list.

Simple Lists

What kind of fruit do they have?

apples, bananas, grapes and strawberries

What does your boyfriend look like?

He's tall, dark and handsome.

Complex Lists

What kind of ice-cream do they sell?

chocolate, strawberry, mint and vanilla

The last item in the list is linked by the word and. In a straightforward list, there is no need for a comma before and. If the items are more complicated, a comma may be needed to make the meaning clear. The two sentences below have different meanings depending on their punctuation.

We have chocolate and walnut, strawberry, and mint and vanilla.

We have chocolate and walnut, strawberry and mint, and vanilla.

Commas are used to separate words in a list.

Simple Lists

What kind of fruit do they have? (a list of nouns)

apples, bananas, grapes and strawberries

What does your boyfriend look like? (a list of adjectives)

He's tall, dark and handsome.

Complex Lists

What kind of ice-cream do they sell?

chocolate, strawberry, mint and vanilla

The last item in the list is linked by the conjunction and. In a straightforward list, there is no need for a comma before and. If the items are more complicated, a comma may be needed to make the meaning clear. The two sentences below have different meanings depending on their punctuation.

We have chocolate and walnut, strawberry, and mint and vanilla.

We have chocolate and walnut, strawberry and mint, and vanilla.

Exercise

Punctuate this list in two different ways. These are not sentences, so no capital letter or full stop is needed.

What kind of crisps do you like?
spring onion salt and vinegar prawn and tomato

List 1: There are three different types of crisps.

spring onion salt and vinegar prawn and tomato

List 2: There are four different types of crisps.

spring onion salt and vinegar prawn and tomato

Check Results

University of Glasgow
Copyright © STELLA
stella@arts.gla.ac.uk