Mastering 'Comma Before Such As'

Comma Before Such As: A Comprehensive Guide to Grammatical Usage

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Ever found yourself wrestling with the decision of whether to place a comma before “such as”? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a common conundrum for writers everywhere, and I’m here to help guide you through it.

When it comes to punctuation, particularly commas, things can get tricky – fast. Especially when we’re dealing with phrases such as… well, “such as”. But don’t worry! There’s no need for panic or confusion.

With this comprehensive guide on grammatical usage, I’ll break down the rules and provide clear explanations. By the end of this article, you’ll be confidently using commas before “such as” like a pro!

Understanding the Comma’s Role

Let’s jump right in! When it comes to grammar, I believe that commas are some of the most misunderstood and misused punctuation marks. But they’re more than just curved lines on a page. They’ve got an important job to do, especially when it comes to phrases like “such as”.

First off, what is a comma? It’s a punctuation mark used to separate parts of a sentence. It offers clarity by breaking down sentences into smaller, more digestible sections. For instance, without commas in the sentence “I enjoy eating apples bananas and pears” you might think I’m talking about some exotic fruit named “apples bananas”. But adding commas gives us “I enjoy eating apples, bananas, and pears”, showing clearly that these are three separate items.

Commas also play an essential role in understanding phrases like ‘such as’. This phrase can introduce examples or clarify what we mean by something earlier in our sentence. Let’s take a look at two example sentences:

  1. “I love classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice.”

  2. “My garden has many flowers such as roses.”

In both cases, putting a comma before ‘such as’ isn’t necessary because the examples given (Pride and Prejudice; roses) directly relate to what came before (‘classic novels’; ‘flowers’). The rule here is simple: No comma is needed before ‘such as’ when the words after it clarify or explain something directly referred to earlier in the sentence.

However, sometimes we use ‘such as’ not just for clarification but also for parenthesis – additional information that could be removed without changing the main idea of our sentence.

For example:

“I have lived in big cities such as New York and London.”

Here, knowing which cities I’ve lived in isn’t crucial to understand my main point: living in big cities. Hence we add a comma before ‘such as’, indicating this extra piece of information.

So remember:

  • If ‘such as’ introduces necessary or restrictive information – no comma

  • If ‘such as’ introduces additional or nonrestrictive information – use a comma

It’s all about context! By paying close attention to whether your ‘such as’ clause is providing necessary details or optional extras can help you decide whether that tricky little comma needs to step into action!

Practical Applications of ‘Such As’ in Sentences

Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of using “such as” in sentences, shall we? It’s a phrase that often causes confusion but with some practice, you’ll be handling it like an old pro.

Primarily used for giving examples, “such as” is versatile and can make your writing more precise. Let’s look at how it works.

Consider this sentence: “I love fruits such as apples and bananas.” Here, “such as” introduces specific examples of the general term “fruits”.

In contrast, if I say “I only eat fruits such as apples and bananas,“, it implies that my diet includes ONLY these two types of fruit.

Can you see the difference? The context changes the meaning conveyed by our handy little phrase!

Now let’s talk about whether we need a comma before ‘such as’.

Think about this: when the information following ‘such as’ is essential to the meaning of the sentence, NO comma should precede it. For instance – “Dogs, such as German Shepherds and Poodles are great pets.”

On the other hand, when the details after ‘such as’ merely add extra information, a comma SHOULD come before ‘such as’. Like so – “I adore dogs, such as Saint Bernards and Corgis.”

Here’s a comparison table to sum up:


Requires Comma Before ‘Such As’

Dogs such German Shepherds and Poodles are great pets.


I adore dogs, such Saints Bernard or Corgis.


Remember – commas act like signposts guiding your readers through your writing. Choose wisely where you place them!

Conclusion: Mastering the Use of ‘Comma Before Such As’

I’ve spent a significant amount of time guiding you through the labyrinth of English grammar, specifically focusing on when to use a comma before “such as.” I’m confident that by now, you’ve gained a substantial understanding of this intriguing aspect.

It’s worth noting that comprehension often comes from practice. So don’t shy away from using what you have learned in your daily writing – be it an email, a report or even just jotting down notes. This is how we continually improve our command over language.

Remember, clarity is key when it comes to communication. A misplaced comma might seem like a minor issue but it can dramatically alter the essence of your message. While ‘comma before such as’ may seem trivial at first glance, its correct usage adds finesse to your writing style.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Always use a comma before “such as” if what follows is nonessential information.

  • Do not use a comma if the part after “such as” is essential for understanding the sentence.

Consider these examples again:

  • No Comma (Essential Information):

    • Books such as Moby Dick and War and Peace are challenging reads.

  • Comma (Nonessential Information):

    • I enjoy reading classic literature, such as Moby Dick and War and Peace.

In both cases above, the phrase starting with “such as” provides examples; however whether they’re deemed essential or nonessential changes the punctuation required.

I hope this guide has been helpful in lifting any confusion surrounding this particular grammatical conundrum. Remember that English language rules are here to assist us in expressing ourselves clearly and accurately. By mastering them one by one, we’ll become more effective communicators —and isn’t that what we’re all striving for?

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