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Comma Drama: Punctuating “Such as”



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Although we see our fair share of glaring errors, the most common mistakes tend to be more subtle. One or two misplaced commas might not sound like a deal breaker for your next paper, but keeping typographical errors from adding up increases your credibility. This gem from Grammarly’s Brittney Ross can help!

 

When to Use a Comma Before Such as

 

Here’s an example of such as used correctly with a comma in a sentence:

 

In this forest, you’ll see many types of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce.

 

The phrase such as pine and spruce is nonrestrictive, so you need a comma. How can you tell it’s nonrestrictive? Take the phrase out and see whether the sentence is still true: In this forest, you’ll see many types of coniferous trees.

 

When to Use Such As Without a Comma

 

Don’t use a comma if such as is part of a restrictive clause.

 

Trees such as oaks and elms don’t grow at this altitude.

 

Here we have a restrictive phrase. Try taking it out of the sentence: Trees don’t grow at this altitude. The sentence isn’t true anymore. We’re not trying to say that no trees grow at this altitude—we’re restricting the statement to specific types of trees: oaks and elms.

 

How to Use Such as in a Sentence

 

Use such as to provide specific examples of something you’re talking about. If the specific examples aren’t essential to the accuracy of your sentence, then use a comma before such as and after your example, unless the example is at the very end of the sentence.

 

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are high in vitamin C.

 

We like to plan our vacations around three-day weekends, such as Labor Day.

 

If the examples are essential to the meaning of your sentence, omit the commas.

 

Foods such as pizza and ice cream aren’t very good for you.

 

This year we’d like to visit a place such as Greece or Rome.

Posted in Copy Editing, Professional Editing, Professional Proofreading

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