Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.


The comma ( , ) is one of the most commonly used punctuation marks in English. Commas are the same in appearance as apostrophes (), but are placed on the bottom line of the text, in the same location as periods.
Generally speaking, commas are used to connect two or more elements in a sentence, but the way in which they do this varies widely, depending on what these elements are and how they are arranged in the sentence.
Continue reading...


punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses, that are equally significant (see grammar and phonetics). In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes interlock in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

The intonations of declaration are classified in three types, symbolized by the comma (,), used to separate words or phrases for clarity; the semicolon (;), used to mark separation between elements in a series of related phrases, generally in a long sentence; and the full stop, or period (.), used to mark the end of a sentence. Other intonations are shown by the exclamation point (!); the interrogation point, or question mark (?); the parenthesis [( )], used to set off a word or phrase from a sentence that is complete without it; and the colon (:), typically used to introduce material that elaborates on what has already been said. Quotation marks (“ ”) indicate direct quotation or some borrowing, and usually demand special intonation. The ellipsis (…) is used to indicate the place in a passage where material has been omitted or a thought has trailed off. The long dash (—) is especially used in handwriting for incomplete intonation patterns.

Punctuation of material intended to be read silently rather than aloud—the far more usual case today—has introduced refinements designed to help the reader: brackets ([ ]), a secondary parenthesis; capital letters; paragraphing; and indentation. Two other frequent signs are the apostrophe ('), marking an omission of one or two letters, or a possessive case, and the hyphen (-), marking a line division or an intimate joining, as in compound words. These last two are practically extra letters, and their use, belonging with spelling rather than with punctuation, is highly arbitrary.

Each written language has its tradition of punctuation, often very different from that used in English; thus, in German nouns are capitalized, and in Spanish the beginnings of exclamations and of questions are marked with inverted signs. See also accent.


See W. D. Drake, The Way to Punctuate (1971); Words into Type (3d ed. 1974); D. Hacker, A Writer's Reference (4th ed. 1999); Univ. of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. 2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The difference between the larger and smaller whole tones in the just scale, corresponding to a frequency ratio of 81/80.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Music a minute interval
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


COMputable MAthematics.

An ESPRIT project at KU Nijmegen.


"," ASCII character 44. Common names: ITU-T: comma. Rare: ITU-T: cedilla; INTERCAL: tail.

In the C programming language, "," is an operator which evaluates its first argument (which presumably has side-effects) and then returns the value of its second argument. This is useful in "for" statements and macros.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


In programming, the comma (,) is used to separate values in a function call. For example, in the C statement printf ("The result is %s\n", amount); the comma separates the display string from the name of the variable.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Each discusses commas at some length: two pages each in Fowler and Garner, 12 for Yagoda, 22 (not counting the illustrations) for Gordon.
(Comma's Openpilot software tries to help with that: it complains if the driver doesn't touch the wheel every five minutes, and it asks for human intervention if it's having trouble interpreting the road ahead.) And in the event of a crash, using a home-built driving aid might raise eyebrows.
Another important area of Comma Soft AG is the Comma Security Institute, which offers individual trainings, tailored to the needs of companies through a holistic approach.
Pick up a "Keyboard Kitten" adventure and join Comma and Rain Boy on an energetic romp exploring Oregon's bountiful treasures.
There between the two powerful trains stands Comma Man, (12) arms outstretched in a desperate attempt to prevent a collision.
"If there's a pause in the way people speak, then there's a comma. If there's a longer pause, then there may be a semicolon.
David Hitch, an old colleague whose editorial cartoons continue to amaze me in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, passes along an example of the comma's abuse from his own family.
Comma's founder, Ra Page, said: "Gaza is in the news all the time, almost every week, but we don't know anything about it.
The devil is in the details, specifically in the last comma. Since Bell Aliant wanted to sharply increase the pole rate and wanted the contractual flexibility to do that, it interpreted this clause as the right to terminate the agreement at any time, with one year's notice.
For one thing, use of the comma is not a grammatical question at all.
The issue of approving a joint venture proposal filed by the Malaysian-based AirAsia and India's Tatas became a bone of contention between the Indian finance ministry and the aviation ministry, as the ministries differed in their interpretation of a government press statement pointing to a strategically positioned comma in the statement.
In a statement published today, Cosan announced it would buy Comma from Esso Petroleum Co Ltd (EPCo) in an effort to set foot into the European lubricants and specialties market.