There are many rules associated with comma use, and where you place them in a sentence can change the tone or meaning of your material. Improper placement can also create confusion and a misreading of your words.
When you use the term “such as” in your writing, you indicate an example or similarity to something else. And, when you use a comma with “such” in a sentence, you may be completely changing what it references.
Let’s learn about when to use a comma with “such as” and when to leave your sentences without.
How to Use the Term “Such As” in a Sentence
“Such as” is an idiom, meaning it is a phrase made up of words that mean something entirely different when taken out of order. Use “such as” to “introduce an example or series of examples” or to specify a certain kind of item.
- You will need all materials in advance, such as loose-leaf paper and pens.
- In situations such as this, we should always proceed with caution.
The term “such as” is usually placed before a noun or pronoun to explain its relationship to other elements in the sentence. This provides readers with details and additional information related to the subject of the sentence.
Comma Rules to Review
Of the many comma rules that exist, you want to keep in mind the rules that are specific to the separation of information within a sentence. These are important rules because their use indicates a relationship to the phrase or clause preceding it.
Separating Two Independent Clauses Using a Coordinating Conjunction
A comma is placed before a coordinating conjunction when they are used to join together two independent clauses.
- I was closely watching the weather, and we decided to wait until a warmer day to have a picnic.
The placement of the comma helps define two different thoughts in the following sentence: 1) closely watching the weather and 2) waiting until a warmer day for a picnic.
Separating an Introductory, Dependent Clause From an Independent Clause
You do not use a comma when separating a dependent clause that follows an independent clause.
- I watched the weather closely and waited for a warmer day to plan a picnic.
However, you do use a comma when a dependent clause acts as an introduction to an independent clause.
- Until the weather warms up, we won’t be going to the beach.
Offsetting Information Within a Sentence
You can also use commas to offset nonessential information (also called a nonrestrictive clause) within a sentence. Nonessential information is defined as not being necessary for the overall understanding of the sentence. It does, however, add details to the sentence.
- The rain, falling steadily, didn’t deter us from enjoying the beach.
The phrase “falling steadily” isn’t necessary to understand the sentence above but does add clarification and detail for the reader.
When Should You Use a Comma With “Such As”?
Combine what the idiom “such as” means along with the comma rules we’ve reviewed above to determine when to use a comma with “such as.”
Use a Comma Before Nonessential Information at the End of a Sentence
If “such as” begins a nonrestrictive clause, it must have a comma placed before it.
- I like winter weather, such as snow and ice.
Snow and ice aren’t needed to understand that I like winter weather.
Use Commas to Offset Nonessential Information Within a Sentence
If your nonessential information falls within a sentence, it needs to be enclosed within commas.
- I like winter weather, such as snow and ice, and I have an entire closet full of winter clothing.
When Shouldn’t You Use a Comma With “Such As”?
Now that you know when to use a comma with “such as,” let’s review when you shouldn’t use one.
When the phrase “such as” precedes information that is vital to the understanding of the sentence, then you need to leave a comma out.
- Winter in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan can see accumulations of snow up to 30 feet in one season!
A comma (or set of commas) is needed when you use “such as” with nonessential information. The comma indicates that the information is not needed for the overall understanding of the sentences but is there to simply add detail.
“Such as” does not need comma usage when it precedes information that is important to the overall understanding of the sentence.